Pubdate: Sun, 25 Feb 2001
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)
Copyright: 2001 The Baltimore Sun, a Times Mirror Newspaper.
Contact:  501 N. Calvert Street P.0. Box 1377 Baltimore, MD 21278
Fax: (410) 315-8912
Author: Susan Goering
Note: The writer is executive director of the Maryland ACLU.


As the organization that pioneered "driving while black" suits, the 
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is distressed by reports that poor 
African-Americans in Baltimore now risk searches and arrests for simply 
"being while black" ("Tough policing hasn't sparked complaints rise," Feb. 19).

Surely poor black city residents who are the victims of violence that 
accompanies street-level drug-dealing deserve safe streets.

But "tough policing" that results in more than 15,000 unwarranted stops and 
searches in nine months in East Baltimore alone makes area citizens twice 
victims -- at risk for losing personal safety and their civil rights.

The liberty lost is all the more grievous because it is unnecessary. 
Putting one neighborhood under a pressure-cooker inevitably moves problems 
to another, and is unlikely to decrease homicides in the long run.

We will never win the war on drugs, with its predictable carnage, until we 
provide an immediate drug treatment slot for anyone who wants one.

Last year's state funding increase to expand Baltimore's drug treatment 
system is a first step. Now the governor's proposed budget would fund even 
more treatment over the next two years.

Treatment is the most cost-effective way to reduce drug use and its 
associated crime and health complications.

Using valuable resources to create a virtual police state in the black 
community may work on any given day, but is the antithesis of freedom for 
all in the long run.

Susan Goering


The writer is executive director of the Maryland ACLU.
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