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Trump and Sessions Reveal Historical Links Between White Supremacy and the War on Drugs

Maureen Meehan

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While Trump’s defense of white nationalists, Nazis and the KKK in Charlottesville was appalling and disgusting, anyone who has not been living under a rock since the popular vote-loser took office is probably not surprised.

After all, appointing Jeff Sessions as attorney general said it all. Sessions wasted no times in attempting to restart the failed War on Drugs, one of the major goals of which is to arrest, criminalize and incarcerate people of color for offenses that are practically legal, like possession of marijuana.

The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) pointed this out in a recent blog post stating, “The history of U.S. criminal justice policy is the history of white supremacy; and Jeff Sessions is Trump’s Bull Connor.”

Theophilus “Bull” Connor, Birmingham Alabama’s former commissioner of public safety, was known as an ultra-segregationist with close ties to the KKK, who encouraged the violence that met the Freedom Riders at the Birmingham bus station in 1961. Connor promised local Klansmen that he’d make sure that at least 20 minutes elapsed before the cops were sent in, giving the racists plenty of time to beat the hell out of the peaceful marchers.

Sound familiar?

Jeff Sessions’ long record of hostility to justice and civil liberties in his home state of Alabama is well-documented—he was dubbed as too racist to be a federal judge—and now he is running the federal justice system. He once called civil rights groups un-American because they “forced civil rights down the throats of people.”

Sessions reportedly once said he thought the KKK was “OK” until he found out some of its members smoked pot.

In only six months as AG, Sessions has rolled back decades of criminal justice reform. The first salvo in his launch of the War on Drugs was urging prosecutors to seek the toughest possible punishment, even in non-violent drug cases.

That was in May. Then, in July, along came Sessions’ support for asset forfeiture, the process by which cops can take people’s money and property before anyone is even convicted of a crime.

As DPA’s Bill Piper said: “For a president who believes that police officers should racially profile suspects and rough them up and torture them, Sessions is the perfect Attorney General. His racist past is an asset, not a liability.”

The War on Drugs, started in 1971 under Richard Nixon, has long been a cover for social and racial injustice and targeting the blacks and the antiwar left.

“We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities,” said Nixon’s top advisor, John Ehrlichman, in a 1994 interview.

And here we are, 50 years later, with racist bigots in the White House trying to do the same exact thing, to the same people. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) tells us that African Americans are still disproportionately arrested and incarcerated.

In terms of the anti-war left… well, that’s coming soon.

If Trump can get his hands on the more than 1.3 million names and IP addresses of visitors to the site that helped organize the anti-Trump Women’s Marches earlier this year (on the day of his inauguration), then don’t be surprised if weed possession arrests in that community suddenly increase.

Totalitarian authority? Fascism on the rise? Violation of the Constitution? How about all of the above?

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