As I sat on my bed writing this article, I listened to the radio as Ferguson burned again. But there is much more to the breaking news. It’s wasn’t just Missouri, but in other states, other cities, people took to the streets. I heard about Seattle, Salt Lake, Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver, New York City…the whole country was boiling over. As urban areas bubbled with outrage I considered when this fire actually started. The freeway in Oakland had been shut down, when did we first get shut down I wondered. When did the ‘power of the people’, the people’s voice, our voice first get muted? In August 2014, the people shouted. They were screaming, Americans were screaming, but what was the message? I hear about racial issues, I hear of class issues but what speaks louder is the wailing of how we are being boiled alive, like the high pitch of a lobster dropped in its pot of death.
The people scream now but the pot has been heating up for decades. We are like the frog, you know the story. Put a frog in a pot of cool water; slowly and gradually warm the water, one degree at a time. Water boils at 212 degrees but the frog never notices the slow, steady increments of the warming water. By the time the heat is so high it kills, the frog never once tries to jump out of the pot. The frog never feels death sneaking up on it. The frog is cooked.
We are like that frog. Over the years the temperature has been rising. But who heats the pot? And why? The fire that burns is no accident. People’s rights, our rights have been used as fuel. Slowly they have been burning away. The flames are rising. Ferguson was not about race, it’s not about a kid or a cop. It’s about the pot, the pot we sit in. Our country has slowly, gradually, been turned into a police state. When once we revered our police, we now fear them. When once they served to protect us, now they oppress us. Before the water came to a boil, the police respected the people. Then, the power was for the people, of the people, and by the people. Now, the power is for the police, of the police, and by the police.
When was the heat first turned on, and by whom? To know how this story will end we need to understand how it began.
Before Eric Garner, there was Rodney King, before we couldn’t “all just get along” there was turmoil boiling up across the country. Detroit burned, and Chicago burned decades before L.A. burned. Before there were four dead in Ohio, there were many more who suffered similar fates. Before the civil rights movement and Nixon declared war on “those hippies”, the South was the center of the fire. Much like it was in 1861.
The roots of this fire go back that far. It may have started as a “race” issue or so it has been written, but the power of the flames began with the “power” itself. Before NWA coined “fight the power” the fight had been taken to us. Now we take the fight to the power, to the men of power. This is the fight. This is who started the fire that burns tonight. Yes, it’s time. The “man” has, in fact fueled the flames but like Billy Joel said, “we didn’t start the fire.”
It started with the men of power, rich white men. Over 75 years ago, the power of the people began to evaporate as capitalism was highjacked. Those men, slowly, like boiling a frog, took power, our power. These men enlisted us against ourselves, dangling power like a carrot. These men made new laws (the “stick”) and like any other tool made by man, the “man” used it. What was once the whip of the master morphed into a billy-club. Eventually, these clubs were used to beat the people in Ohio, Detroit, Chicago, and in Mr. King’s neighborhood. Rodney King? Martin Luther King? As Ferguson burned I ask, who is the king?
This war on the people has evolved over time. A war against blacks and Mexicans turned into the war on poverty, then the war on drugs. Do not be fooled, this is the same war, the same flames that burned in 1776 and that burned the White House in 1812, also burned in 1864, 1914, 1941 and 1968. The same fire burns in Ferguson and those flames have spread. Today it is “Big Brother” who controls the “man”, the Police State is here. It’s too late to jump out of the pot, the frogs are screaming and our goose is almost cooked.
And what about the pot? This dish could not be served without the pot. How was the pot used to cook the people? The answer goes back to the 1920’s, after the country was roaring with wealth. Just after the war to end all war was “won,” the plot to use the pot to cook us was in its inception. Congress first had to give the real power of the people away to those rich, white men. Power was and still is money. When we (a small group of Congress) gave away out Constitutional right controlling our money to the Bankers, the recipe was written. Hearst, Rockefeller, DuPont, and the Rothschilds to name a few cooked the books and took the greatest country to ever grace the world, and pot was the ingredient. The “pot” was not called pot, it was called marijuana. And as it turned out, the recipe practically wrote itself.
“Marijuana” is not good; the word is a slur, as much as the N. word. Cannabis is perhaps the greatest plant, a God given plant, the single greatest plant in human history. Some may argue that wheat or rice or perhaps even corn takes the cake as the world’s greatest plant but those grasses pale in comparison to real grass. The seed has all the essential nutrients needed in a human diet. Wheat falls ever so short. Corn is Porn when Cannabis is like Shakespeare. It can be used as fuel, two barrels of oil per acre. Its fiber resists rot and is nearly as strong as steel. It can be grown where nothing else can. And its medicinal properties not only are greater than we have yet to learn, but our very biochemistry and biological systems use the plant’s essential chemistry. And its effects on the mind, on our consciousness may be the very thing that offers what we need to put out the fire that burned in Ferguson and all over the world today. Am I overstating the power of the pot? Even the D.E.A. ‘s own administrative judge called Cannabis the world’s safest therapeutic substance. Hyperbole from the D.E.A.? I think not.
The plant dates back over 10,000 years at least. Found in the pack of an ancient Chinese grave, it has been essential as the stone tools this man carried with him.
To say Cannabis wasn’t known to modern man until it was outlawed in 1937 would be as false as it being listed as a Schedule 1 drug, dangerous and of no medicinal value.
Fact is, the founders of this great nation grew Cannabis. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson didn’t just grow hemp for rope and canvas. George himself wrote about separating the male plants of his “Indian Hemp” as a regular agricultural practice. Indian hemp aka Cannabis Indica, has been used for thousands of years (in India) for its smokable resins, aka hashish.
The Native Americans smoked Cannabis Sativa (Sativa, Latin for “good tasting”) in rituals and is valued as a sacred medicine by nearly all tribes.
It wasn’t until Afro-Americans, descendants of slaves used it in “speak easys” as they created and played the truly ‘American’ music called jazz that Cannabis first became vilified. Only blacks and Mexicans smoked the weed back then. When white women frequented these clubs, stories of “reefer madness” became American lore. Mary Jane’s bad reputation was by no accident. On the contrary, she was totally vilified by those very same white men I spoke of earlier. They were the ‘powers of industry’ back then. They were at the fore front of the Industrial Revolution. They singlehandedly, so to speak, built this nation. The real power was just being born, and Cannabis posed a very real threat to those men and their corporate machines. The very first car, the Model A, was made of hemp. The oil of this plant made the plastic fenders of this car just for starters.
William Hearst and Lammont DuPont together conspired to put pot in its place when oil, the petro-chemical was in its infancy. Big oil didn’t want big buds, the real “green” energy. And Hearst had hundreds of acres of forest to be used for pulp for his newspaper/media empire. Hemp pulp out performed any tree on the planet for paper. The Mexicans were bringing it up from South of the Border. Cannabis didn’t need the chemical process that DuPont provide as it only needs water. Hence, the beginning of Sativa’s smear campaign.
The rest is history. False stories of Mexicans on marijuana killing white folks were published in Hearst‘s newspapers. Stories of how blacks under Mary Jane’s spell had the nerve to think that they could have sex with white women. It didn’t take long before “Refer Madness” was in full effect.
Backroom deals fed the ‘crony capitalists’ greed with some help from their government friends, Aslinger created the Anti-Cannabis Campaign in 1937 and the Marihuana Tax Stamp Act was created. Hemp was illegal unless you had a government tax stamp. Funny thing was the government didn’t issue the stamps. Cars were made from steel, ran on gasoline and Hearst’s empire grew into the media machine it is today.
But the blacks still smoked. The music got even better. Eventually growing into R & B and yes, Rock and Roll. All from Cannabis. Ganja becomes part of the black culture despite the legal lies. One of the greatest entertainers ever was quoted when asked if he used Cannabis and if it was addictive. Louis Armstrong replied, “I’ve been smoking every day for 30 years and I still ain’t hooked! The story of the war on weed continues.
As I write in my room, I look out my window and see “old glory” herself waving in the wind. The first American flag was made from Cannabis. The Constitution was written on Hemp paper. Today the Constitution is viewed as an archaic document by the progressives, out of touch with today’s society. Obama thumbs his nose at the greatest document ever written and those God given rights, guaranteed in that paper are eroded as the police state grows. Many today think the only rights we have are the ones the government gives us! The water’s getting hot, can’t you feel it?
Well, “the heat is on wasn’t just a lyric from Glen Frye, it was a warning. Rock and Roll echos the wisdoms of weed to this very day.
As pot busts increased to 342,314 with the influx of cocaine came like an avalanche of South American snow. It was by no coincidence that inner city youth, mostly young men of color became victims of the war on drugs. Coke got cheaper and pot’s prices rose. Along with the advent of cheap ‘hard drugs’ and pricey pot, came the rise of para-military police. S.W.A.T. teams went from the exception to the rule. In North Las Vegas a new way to wage this war was invented. They called themselves ‘The Nasty Boys’ and they lived up to their reputation. Media jumped on the tactical train with a TV series of the same name. The Nasty Boys were a great success. Police all over the country adopted these techniques complete with cops wearing black ski masks and toting assault rifles. Busting down doors became old hat.
Arrests skyrocketed; prison terms and prisons were filled by mostly poor, young men of color. Congress’ solution to the problem was mandated minimum sentences with crack cocaine sentences made even more severe than “regular powder” cocaine. Cannabis busts also rose. In 1995, 60 % of all federal inmates were for drugs. Cannabis arrests were 204,812 in 1999. Anyone who used Cannabis and saw a police officer felt anything but ‘protected.’ Fear was the whole point. But not just “potheads” felt anxiety from the bold actions from cops. The police were anything but respected in poor, urban neighborhoods across the country. If you were of color and poor, you fit the profile.
We all know about ‘racial profiling’ today. Why? Because it became easy to see the tiny bubbles in the pot. Police abuse runs rampant. After Rodney King, did Los Angeles burning settle anything? The answer was more S.W.A.T teams, stronger pepper spray, stronger Tasers, bean bag shotguns and more bullet proof vans. This accelerated armory was supposed to be in response to the ever growing gangs and their reign over the drug trade. Mind you, these gangs are real. And yes, they are really dangerous. Something DOES need to be done. We don’t want to become like Mexico. But who added the fuel to the fire? There are many social, economic and political answers to THAT question but what started out as a move to vilify Cannabis nearly one hundred years ago for big oil, big media and big industry has led us to where we are today. In 2014, there were more police shootings than ever before. And the most shootings of unarmed people ever by cops.
When you see fully armored police that look like storm troopers, does that make you feel safe? The residents of Ferguson have let the world know how they feel. But this is throughout the Nation. Los Angeles, Seattle, Las Vegas, Denver, New York….
I was there. I lived in Las Vegas as a youth. I was the class of ’86. In the summer of ’85 it was especially dry in the desert, but not the kind of dry you may think. There was little to no weed anywhere that summer. But in the mostly black neighborhood that I lived in there was plenty of crack. Later we discover that much of the cocaine served on Blake Street had arrived via the U.S. Government. Remember Gene Hosenfuss, Ollie North, and guns for drugs? George Bush and the C.I.A?
The Nasty Boys style of para-military type raids was very effective. They came in ready for war with faces covered carrying assault rifles. They would cover the suspects heads with black hoods, this instilled fear. Soon after Nasty Boys the now infamous series “COPS” debuted. Then “America’s Most Wanted.” It was a full-fledged war. The “war on drugs” was a war on the people. Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble.
Similar tactics of the Nasty Boys were employed utilized nationwide. And these ‘men in black’ were no longer the exception. The pot got a little warmer. The heat was on. It wasn’t long before innocent citizens felt the heat. A grandmother is shot when police raid the wrong address. Family pets are killed by cops when raiding someone “suspected” of selling Cannabis. Raids, busts and mistakes add up. The police almost always are not held accountable for their actions.
Chicago, Philadelphia and New York City all protested police abuse. It is portrayed by media as a black/white thing but we all know better. It’s a power thing. The government has known about the boiling pot. They have added all the ingredients carefully to continue the war they started. MRADs are given to small towns, new “no-lethal” weapons, developed by the military are being experimented on large “unruly” crowds. And then there’s the NDAA that can suspend our civil rights with the stroke of a pen. And it’s not by accident that a natural disaster now includes a “financial crisis” also deemed by the President. What happens when the people and their voices grow too large or too violent? It’s called martial law. But worry not my fellow people. They have “family relocation residences” for us. Complete with barbed wire to keep us in, nice and safe. And they are conveniently located next to railroad lines for easy transport. Sound familiar?
Most people in America today are clueless with suds coming out of their ears from CNN, MSNBC, FOX, American Idol brainwashing. These corporations that feed us these “products” are ever so powerful. The people know this deep down. Why else protest “Black Friday” at malls and Walmart’s across the country? They didn’t shoot or choke anyone.
Fascism is the rule of the people/government by corporations. That was Nazi Germany. When the poetic song “The Revolutions Will Not Be Televised” was released in 1999, the message wasn’t that the revolution would not be on T.V. On the contrary, it’s on 135 channels of crap, in HD and with 7.1 surrounds sound. The message was that the revolution is to take place outside, away from the neo-comforts of your living rooms, beyond the lifelike play of Grand Theft Auto 5 and the NFL playoffs, of which I thoroughly enjoy. The “revolution” start in our minds and deeper in our spirit. The spirit of ’76. Remember that? Remember “don’t thread on me?” Remember “give me liberty, or give me death?” Today, the NSA spies on everybody in the name of the “war on terror.” Don’t be fooled. The pot is boiling. We are being cooked alive. Terror is induced fear. If it were a justified war, it would be called the “war on terrorism.” Be afraid, they tell us. Bad men want to do us harm, they say. We must get them before they get us, they say.
Well I ask you. Who’s zoomin’ who? How does the water feel? Is it hot in here or is it just me?
Cannabis will soon be legal everywhere. The lies cannot continue. Common sense and the lure of the holy dollar have begun to right one of the most terrible wrongs and biggest civil rights violations ever. But it’s anything but time to “turn on, tune in and cop-out.” It’s time to wake up! Ferguson, MO is just a simmering, the police state is here.
The military once took a survey in 2009. They asked some troops if they would fire upon Americans if so ordered. Well it might be comforting to know, almost 80% said no. But 20% said yes. Who will be working for the man when the time comes? That’s a whole lot of yeses.
So, light that doobie, hit that pipe, or clear that bong and think about it. Potheads are not lazy. They just figured out somethings aren’t worth getting up for. But one man, a prophet said it best, and he was a huge pothead. “Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights. Get up, stand up, don’t give up the fight!” Even Vladimir Putin addresses the American people in a recent speech. “Keep your guns,” he said.
First was the ‘war on weed’, then the ‘war on poverty’, soon came the ‘war on drugs’, and now it’s a ‘war on terror’. What’s the common denominator? It’s been a long war on the people. Obama declared America, this nation, the “battleground” officially a few short years ago. A 2006 document named “Civil Disturbance Operations” (PDF) outlines a US Army Military Police training manual describing the plans of the government. An updated manual released in 2010 entitled FM# 3-39.40 Internment and Resettlement Operations goes even further. These documents clearly explain “warning shots will not be fired”. Feeling the heat yet? Ever been bullied by a cop? Ask a friend or family member. If you’re poor, odds are you smell what they’re cooking.
Being a police officer today is more challenging, it’s true. But crime has been dropping for years. Cops are people too. They have families too. But power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Respect is a lost virtue across the entire spectrum of our society today. All people, citizens, cops, politicians, kids and adults alike, have been part of this stew of suffering.
Just remember, this is not about race any more. Yes, it started this way with the help of crony capitalists. But today, we are all at risk. Even the cops. Cops are people too. What is going to be the next war on the people? Do you smell what’s cookin’?
An essay by Jason Lamoore, March 6th, 2015