Matt Sutton 212-613-8026
New York, NY – In response to new details released in the killing of Marvin Scott III by Texas corrections officers after experiencing a mental health crisis while in possession of less than two ounces of marijuana, Kassandra Frederique, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), released the following statement:
“When we say ending the criminalization of drugs is the number one thing we can do to reduce harmful law enforcement interactions, this is exactly what we mean. Getting caught with less than two ounces of marijuana ended up being a death sentence for Marvin Scott III. Drug arrests—or even suspected drug involvement—have ended in death for far too many Black, Latinx and Indigenous people in this country. We saw how it played out for George Floyd, we saw how it played out for Breonna Taylor, we saw how it played out for Carlos Ingraham Lopez, and we saw how it played out with Daniel Prude.
These are not isolated incidents, and they will continue to happen. So long as the drug war provides a rationale for vicious and inhumane treatment, we will continue to see Black, Latinx and Indigenous people killed in horrible and unimaginable ways. For Marvin Scott, they choked him, they pepper sprayed him, and they put a hood over his head—all while he was suffering through a mental health crisis. It took only four hours from the time he arrived at the jail from the hospital for him to be found unresponsive as a result of the torture he endured at the hands of these officers.
This should have never happened. Yet, every 23 seconds, another person is arrested in this country for drug possession—the majority of which are people of color. And every 23 seconds, we risk the same avoidable fate that fell on Marvin Scott, and George Floyd, and Carlos Ingraham Lopez and Daniel Prude. We owe it to them, and all of those that came before them, to end this racist and inhumane drug war once and for all.”