Former DEA Agent lays it out…Between whitened juries, inability to pay for legal defense, the forced plea bargain deals – the War on Drugs has been the biggest carceral system imprisoning black folks since slavery.
“WHAT I BEGAN TO SEE IS THAT THE DRUG WAR IS TOTALLY ABOUT RACE.”
In a new video by Brave New Films, Matthew Fogg, a former US Marshall and DEA Agent, speaks out about his time on the task force which specialized in fighting the “war on drugs”.
Fogg first speaks about his time as a teenage volunteer for his local police department, saying he used to park their police cruisers and drive them around the block. He said he knew then law enforcement was his destiny. He started as a Special Agent for the Drug Enforcement Agency and earned the nickname Batman, because he felt like he was policing Gotham city.
We were jumping on guys in the middle of the night, all of that. Swooping down on folks all across the country, using these sorts of attack tactics that we went out on, that you would use in Vietnam, or some kind of war-torn zone. All of the stuff that we were doing, just calling it the war on drugs. And there wasn’t very many black guys in my position.
So when I would go into the war room, where we were setting up all of our drug and gun and addiction task force determining what cities we were going to hit, I would notice that most of the time it always appeared to be urban areas.
That’s when I asked the question, well, don’t they sell drugs out in Potomac and Springfield, and places like that? Maybe you all think they don’t, but statisticsshow they use more drugs out in those areas than anywhere. The special agent in charge, he says ‘You know, if we go out there and start messing with those folks, they know judges, they know lawyers, they know politicians. You start locking their kids up; somebody’s going to jerk our chain.’ He said, ‘they’re going to call us on it, and before you know it, they’re going to shut us down, and there goes your overtime.’
Drugs are something that affect all races. Drugs are everywhere. For the DEA to only target urban areas (which are typically predominantly Black populations), something far more polarized is taking place.
Since the DEA was formed in 1986, the agency reports a total of 847,553 people have been arrested. There is also a total absence of demographic information on their website, which means there is no oversight on racial bias in targeting drug crime.
When a black female attorney for the Pentagon was stopped by DEA agents in an airport for suspicion of narcotics use, this prompted the inspector general (IG) for the Justice Department to review the DEA’s practices regarding “cold consent.” Cold consent is when a DEA agent approaches a person based on no particular behavior, or based on suspicion the person is using drugs. The IG found that no demographic data was collected on cold consent interactions. This means the DEA could be stopping people based solely on their race and no one would know.
But Fogg knew:
What I began to see is that the drug war is totally about race. If we were locking up everybody, white and black, for doing the same drugs, they would have done the same thing they did with prohibition.
They would have outlawed it. They would have said, ‘Let’s stop this craziness. You’re not putting my son in jail. My daughter isn’t going to jail.’
If it was an equal enforcement opportunity operation, we wouldn’t be sitting here anyway. It’s all about fairness, man. And understanding ‘How would I want to be treated?’ Whether I’m on the one end or the other end. How would I be treated if everything was done equally?
After Fogg retired from law enforcement, he went on to file an EEO and Title VII racial discrimination complaint with the U.S. Justice Department in 1998 claiming he worked in a “racially hostile environment” that did not promote black people fairly and was awarded $4 million. In 2011, Fogg formed the Bigots with Badges group and became their President. He was invited by the CATO Institute on C-SPAN to discuss police misconduct. He continues to this day to fight racial bias in the Justice System.