Blog Post

DPA's Sophie Dowdy on Medium: To End Police Violence, We Must End the War on Drugs

Drug Policy Alliance

In response to the mass-scale protests calling for an end to police violence, DPA's Sophie Dowdy penned a thought-provoking op-ed on DPA's Medium making the case that ending the drug war is a critical component to achieving this goal.

"As we rise up against injustice, many have started to also think about how to build a better future, where communities have found new and better ways to keep each other safe, and the violence of policing is a thing of the past. As we do so, we must think about ending the drug war as a critical component of ending police violence."

Dowdy argues, as DPA has many times said before, that the perception of drug use is too often used as a cover for racialized violence and even death.

"Over and over again, we have seen drugs used as pretext to enact racialized violence. As Derek Chauvin knelt with his knee on George Floyd’s neck, one of the other officers on the scene turned to the onlookers and said “don’t do drugs, kids.” Floyd’s drug use was used not only to try to absolve the officers involved, but also to mark him as implicitly deserving of death."

As she contends, it's time to "defund and dismantle the institutions that criminalize drug use and build alternatives that uphold the dignity and autonomy of people who use drugs... people have already imagined and are enacting different ways of responding to drug use that aren’t punitive but that instead embody values of safety, community, care, and justice."

Read the op-ed on DPA's Medium.

Sophie Dowdy is an intern with the Department of Research & Academic Engagement at Drug Policy Alliance.