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Press Release

For Immediate Release
Thursday, August 14, 2014

Libertarian Party: Police should stand down in Ferguson, MO; end failed drug war

Militarized police in Ferguson, Mo., after the August 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown.
Militarized police in Ferguson, Mo., after the August 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown.

Tear gas, unrest, controlling the press, and the killing of alleged innocents are outcomes one would expect politicians to rationalize as inevitable in a war zone.

But these atrocities are happening in American cities — now in Ferguson, Mo., in the heart of the United States.

The war is not against tyrants who have invaded America or terrorists who commit mass murder.

No, the war is one that Democratic and Republican politicians are waging against fellow Americans who are hurting no one else.

The War on Drugs is frequently used to justify police who accost minorities walking down the street or otherwise engaged in peaceful behavior. This may have been what precipitated the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown over the weekend, leading to riots and another shooting on Wednesday.

Although all the facts of this case are not yet known, the War on Drugs can be blamed for breeding the tension and resentment that has led to the dangerous rioting we now see in Ferguson.

"The militarization of our domestic police forces must end," said Nicholas Sarwark, chair of the Libertarian National Committee. "The failed War on Drugs must end. And there's no circumstance in which any government authority should attempt to silence or suppress the news media or people peacefully observing police conduct."

So far, police in Ferguson have placed two reporters under arrest — one for the Washington Post and one for the Huffington Post — along with an observer, a St. Louis alderman.

The Libertarian Party calls on the Ferguson and St. Louis County Police Departments to:

  • Release the name of the police officer who shot Michael Brown.
  • Let the investigation into the shooting play out without escalating tensions.
  • Stop arresting reporters and observers in blatant violation of the First Amendment
  • Stand down and withdraw the militarized response.

The Libertarian Party also denounces and demands accountability for protesters who vandalize, loot, and destroy private property and thus victimize innocent small business owners.

The War on Drugs has been the rationale for the militarization of domestic police forces, a fact covered extensively by Washington Post reporter Radley Balko. The Libertarian Party calls for repeal of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which provides for dispensation of military equipment to federal and state law enforcement agencies for "counter-drug activities," and also calls for immediately ceasing the acquisition and use of military surplus equipment and supplies by domestic police departments.

America's senseless and reckless War on Drugs has ruined thousands of lives. It has failed to serve any useful purpose. It has failed to reduce dangerous use of drugs — and, in fact, encourages drug addiction. It has failed to make our streets safe — and has made them dangerous. It has failed to institute justice — and instead inflicts continual miscarriages of justice.

The Libertarian Party has long advocated for an end to the failed and dangerous War on Drugs. Twenty-seven Libertarian candidates running for federal office in 2014, and many more running for state and local office across the country, have pledged to end the War on Drugs if elected.