Press Release

DPA Leads Coalition of National Organizations Calling for an End to the Trump Administration’s Use of the DEA to Surveil Protestors & a Congressional DEA Oversight Hearing

Peaceful Protests do not Justify the Aggressive Overreaction, Militarization, and Attempts to Suppress Protected Speech and Assembly

Contact: 
Matt Sutton 212-613-8026
msutton@drugpolicy.org

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Drug Policy Alliance led a coalition of national organizations in a letter to Congress supporting House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Subcommittee on Crime Chair Karen Bass (D-CA) in their call to halt the Trump Administration’s use of Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) resources to enforce laws that bear no relationship to drugs, particularly its plan to investigate events surrounding the nationwide protests of police misconduct that have taken place in recent weeks.  

“The DEA has once again stretched and misused its authority in a way that expands the police state,” said Maritza Perez, Director of the Office of National Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “While we unequivocally think the DEA should be abolished altogether, right now we at least need to make sure the harm they are capable of causing stays within the confines of its congressionally authorized activities and does not further encroach on American’s civil liberties, like protesting the kind of injustices the DEA itself has also been known to perpetrate.”

The letter, calling for an end to the Trump administration’s misuse of the DEA, was signed by 24 national groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Justice Roundtable, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP), Health in Justice Action Lab at Northeastern University School of Law, Center for Disability Rights and the Competitive Enterprise Institute. It also urges the House Judiciary Committee to hold an oversight hearing to examine, at a minimum: (1) the misuse of DEA funds for law enforcement beyond its congressionally authorized activities, including the use of DEA personnel and equipment for conducting surveillance, investigative, and law enforcement activities related to the protests around the death of George Floyd, (2) the ineffectiveness of the DEA in achieving its stated enforcement objectives, and (3) the misuse of federal resources, including those identified in the Inspector General’s 2019 report.

Earlier this month, DPA rebuked the Trump administration for activating the DEA, CBP and other paramilitary federal agencies to support police in suppressing the widespread lawful protests over the killing of George Floyd. DPA has long been critical of the DEA’s abuse of power, as well as its habit of overextending its authority and fueling mass incarceration and racial disparities as detailed in its 2015 report, The Scandal-Ridden DEA: Everything You Need to Know, and has called for the DEA to be dismantled and abolished.

The full letter can be viewed here.

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