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Oregon may soon decriminalize the low-level possession of all drugs, massively reducing arrests

Under the proposed measure, low-level possession of illegal substances would be reclassified from a misdemeanor to a violation.

Elias Marat

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With opinions changing across the country over the need for urgent criminal justice reform, there’s no time like the present to enact a much-needed overhaul of laws that criminalize poverty and social ills such as drug use. And this November, voters in Oregon will have an opportunity to decriminalize the low-level possession of all drugs.

Under the proposed Measure 110, or the Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act, the low-level possession of illegal substances would be reclassified from a misdemeanor to a violation, punishable by either a $100 fine or a health assessment.

Drug trafficking would remain a felony offense, while substantial possession of drugs would be reduced to a felony. Rehabilitation services would be expanded under the measure, and 24-hour Addiction Recovery Centers would also be opened.

By effectively decriminalizing the small-scale possession of drugs, the proposed measure would effectively halt one of the most pernicious means by which the “War on Drugs” has adversely impacted communities of color and poor communities that have suffered disproportionate over-policing and mass incarceration.

According to the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission, the reclassifications proposed by the measure would see roughly 1,800 fewer Oregon residents facing conviction for felony possession of a controlled substance annually – leading to a mammoth 95-percent drop from current conviction rates.

The report from the commission also found that Measure 110 would be of particular benefit for communities of color, with racial disparities in arrests and convictions falling “substantially.” However, the benefits would also cut across the board – with Black people seeing a fall in arrests by 93.7 percent and an 82.9-percent fall for Asians, 86.5 for Hispanics, 94.2 for Native Americans, and 91.1 for whites.

The report also notes that “inequities [may] exist in police stops, jail bookings, bail, pretrial detention, or other areas” but there is not “sufficient or appropriate data to examine those stages.”

The state would fund Measure 110’s addiction programs, which are expected to cost $57 million yearly, entirely through excess taxes collected on cannabis sales. Current tax revenue from cannabis sales are expected to yield $182.4 million from 2021 to 2023. And as tax revenues increase and decriminalization incurs further savings for the state, petitioners for the Yes for 110 Campaign predict that even more funds can be reallocated to help treat and rehabilitate drug addicts.

Supporters of the measure have been enthusiastically organizing online, and have found that many Oregonians are on the same page with them over the need to end the failed “War on Drugs” and pursue an alternative course to tackle widespread drug addiction.

“There’s no playbook for how to campaign in a pandemic,” said Anthony Johnson, one of the chief petitioners for the campaign. However, he’s confident that the measure has “a really good chance of winning” come November.

“Our communications with voters all across the state shows that voters understand that the status quo is not working,” Johnson added. “We’re clearly not going to arrest our way out of addiction.”

A large number of prominent groups and individuals have backed the measure. This includes trade unions, faith groups and churches, groups representing Asian, Black, Indigenous and Latino communities, human rights organizations, several county district attorneys, and even drug policy reform advocates from the ranks of police.

Oregon is no stranger to blazing new trails in drug policy and criminal justice reforms. In 2014, the state legalized cannabis through a 2014 ballot measure, while a 2017 law drastically reduced the penalty for possessing small quantities of cocaine, LSD, and other substances. This November, Oregonians will also have the opportunity to end the prohibition of psilocybin or “magic” mushrooms and establish a new statewide framework for licensed psilocybin therapy treatment centers.

News

Adam Toledo: Chicago Police Video Shows 13-Year-Old’s Hands Were Up When Cops Shot Him

Elias Marat

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The Chicago Police Department has released gruesome footage depicting the moment that police officers fatally shot 13-year-old Adam Toledo while his hands were up.

In new bodycam footage from the March 29 slaying, an officer pursuing Toledo can be heard shouting at the young boy to show his “f*cking hands” before shooting him a single time, leaving the boy covered in blood and gasping for air.

While the officer can be heard shouting “drop it,” the teenager appeared to have empty hands when he raised his arms in the moment before he was shot. Video also shows officers discovering a handgun near the scene.

Adam was later pronounced dead at the scene.

The video released Thursday by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability the footage from the officer who shot Toledo, along with 16 other body-warn camera video clips, two recordings of 911 calls, an incident report, and a response report, along with other materials.

The mother of Adam, Elizabeth Toledo, reported the boy one week prior to the shooting, although he did return hom on March 27 before leaving that night, reports WBEZ.  Because Adam did not have any form of identification, the family wasn’t informed by police about his death until March 31. In a GoFundMe page set up by Elizabeth, it was noted that one of Adam’s “dreams was to become a police officer.”

“It weighs heavy on our hearts to be planning our last goodbyes instead of watching him grow up and live out those dreams,” the family noted on the page.

The child has been described as having a “big imagination” and was a fan of children’s shows and zombie movies.

“Adam was really into zombies. And the zombie apocalypse. He even had this zombie apocalypse bag packed and ready to go. Some of his favorite movies and TV shows were ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,’ ‘Ghostbusters,’ ‘SpongeBob SquarePants,’ ‘Toy Story,’ ‘Cars,’ ‘The Walking Dead,’” Elizabeth told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has appealed for calm over the release of the gruesome footage while businesses in the area have boarded up their windows in anticipation of large protests.

“We live in a city that is traumatized by a long history of police violence and misconduct,” the mayor told reporters. “So while we don’t have enough information to be the judge and jury of this particular situation, it is certainly understandable why so many of our residents are feeling that all too familiar surge of outrage and pain.”

The release of the video comes amid continuing anger and grief over the April 11 shooting of Daunte Wright by an officer in a Minneapolis suburb.

It also comes as authorities fear a new wave of protests as communities await the outcome of the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis Police officer accused of killing George Floyd last May after kneeling on his neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds.

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Music

Lil Nas X Song Is #1 In Saudi Arabia, Where Homosexuality Is Illegal Under Sharia Law

Elias Marat

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Lil Nas X has been on top of the world for weeks now, whether it’s living rent-free in the heads of homophobes or topping the Billboard charts after his smash hit “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” dominated playlists.

And ironically, the anthem has become the most-played song in Saudi Arabia, the conservative kingdom where open expressions of same-sex love and even private acts of gay sex are punishable by death.

The song, whose video features the artist giving Satan himself a lap dance have dominated news conversations all over the globe, smashed through to the top of the Billboard Global 200, which ranks top tracks in over 200 territories, on Monday.

According to Apple Music, the song is also leading Saudi Arabia’s top 100 charts as the most-played song in the country.

Apparently overjoyed by the ranking, Lil Nas X tweeted: “WE NUMBER 1 IN SAUDI ARABIA WTF LETS GOOOO”

The autocratic kingdom, which has long been governed by a strict yet uncodified interpretation of Sharia law, has an atrocious record on LGBTQ rights and classifies homosexuality as a variety of extremism. N many circumstances, gay sex is punishable by death.

As the Human Dignity Trust explains, “The punishment varies depending on the circumstances: married men and interfaith sex are punished with the death penalty, while non-married men are punished with flogging. Sharia law principles underpinning the criminal law in Saudi Arabia also impose strict dress codes that impact on the gender expression of transgender people.”

However, this does not mean that Saudi citizens abstain from these “illicit” acts. As one fan wrote on Twitter: Period!!!! Let’s correct the narrative about the Middle East! Shoutout Saudi Arabia.”

However, another user responded: “I lived in Saudi Arabia my whole [life] and if I come out I will literally get stoned and people will be happy about it, saying it’s a ‘narrative’ doesn’t help anyone in the contrary, the middle IS homophobic and change NEEDS to happen.”

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Corruption

Cop Who ‘Accidentally’ Killed Daunte Wright Arrested on 2nd-Degree Manslaughter Charges

Elias Marat

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The former Minnesota cop who shot and killed Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old unarmed Black man, during a traffic stop will now face charges of second-degree manslaughter, a prosecutor announced on Wednesday.

The brutal killing of Wright, which comes amid the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for last May’s killing of George Floyd, threatens to spark a new round of nationwide protests against police brutality and discriminatory policing.

On Wednesday, Washington County Attorney Pete Orput confirmed that Potter, a 26-year veteran of the Brooklyn Center Police Department, would be charged.

On Wednesday morning, agents with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension arrested Potter, the bureau announced in a statement.

Potter was taken into custody in St. Paul and will be booked at Hennepin County jail.

On Tuesday, Potter resigned as demands for justice for Wright reverberated nationwide. Her resignation coincided with that of the city’s former police chief, who claims that Potter accidentally grabbed her Glock when she thought she was reaching for her Taser during the Sunday traffic stop.

Wright’s family and attorneys have rejected the claim that Wright’s death was merely the result of an “accident” and are demanding accountability and sweeping reforms of policing in Minnesota.

Potter could face up to 10 years in prison along with a $20,000 fine, per Minnesota law.

“While we appreciate that the district attorney is pursuing justice for Daunte, no conviction can give the Wright family their loved one back,” said Wright family attorney Ben Crump in a statement.

“This was no accident. This was an intentional, deliberate and unlawful use of force,” the statement added.

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