Tuesday, November 15, 2005

California or bust

A much less enthusiatic review from Farid Ghehioueche of encod.org who didn't make it to the conference because he was detained at the airport and deported without allowing to get any closer to Long Beach than a jail cell.

Our friend and reform policy hero, Michael Krawitz forwards on an email from Farid. It's long so I'm only going to excerpt it. Email me if you want a copy of the full story.
The plane landed sunday afternoon. After first, and secondary checkpoints, I stopped at the third check desk. Here two customer agents started to deeply look into my luggages. Many questions raised, and scrutinized my belongings and interrogated about my reasons for enterring US soil. I was sure it was a mere formality as I was answering all their questions.
He was carrying the usual travel items, gifts and some literature about drug policy reform, along with an old poster from a hemp festival that had been long forgotten, folded into a jacket pocket.
After they scratched the GMCL flier and the plastic of the UNODC Cds They found 0.0001 gram of cannabis. They said it was cannabis and asked me to come with them in a little cell, for a complete overview and full body search and to test for pieces of marijuana. I didn't know there were any evidence of marijuana. I realized that I should have used a vacuum-cleaner.
Yes, they arrested him for bare residue. You can't see that small an amount with the naked eye. He was body searched several times, chained like common criminal and taken to a jail cell, where ironically he found a vial with "one gram of crack-cocaine in it." That helped him make friends with the other inmates. He was summarily deported.
It appeared I faced "zero tolerance" I have to apply for a visa to enter USA now. Homeland Security has my file, a number, all my finger prints. What amazed me during this trip among those custom agents is: they're all recruited among what could be seen in France as « invisible minorities » and in US a « positive discriminated peoples ». The repressed employed to repress others.
You have to admire Farid's spirit. Even while enduring this injustice, he engaged the law enforcement officers in a dialogue about why prohibition has failed.
What I tried to explain him was the fact, that even if I felt a great injustice and a decision that is totally disproportionnate. For sure it could be recorded in the Guinness book by the ridiculous charge against my enter on US soil. I told him that concretly I counted around 20 agents that were in charge of my case since the beginning of my troubles. How many real smugglers and terrorists could have take profit of the lack of scrutinity due to my affair ? I told him, I'm working for drug policy reform because I'd like them to be more efficient and for them to achieve a genuine control on borders of the risks, and not about creating the risk by misundertsanding and empowering injustice.
Encod will be sending representatives to a UN meeting in Vienna to keep presenting this case. We wish them the best and offer thanks for their invaluable work across the pond. Surely the struggle for reform is an international one.


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