(ANTIMEDIA) — Drug warrior cops are having a rough week on social media. Police departments have taken to Facebook and other platforms to boast about drug busts, and in turn, they’re receiving strong pushback from internet users, particularly when cannabis is concerned.
From North Carolina and Ohio to Indiana, Missouri, and Texas, cops have been taking a beating.
On September 7, Lincolnton, North Carolina police posted a mugshot of a young man charged with PWISD (possession of a controlled substance with the intent to manufacture, sell or deliver) of marijuana, as well as “Possession of Marijuana Paraphernalia” and “Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.” They estimated the street value of the confiscated drugs to be a whopping $200.
Though the post went relatively unnoticed for over a week, by Wednesday, both trolls and serious commenters had descended upon it. “’Don’t do drugs, it’ll ruin your life.’ That’s true, in most cases it’s the government that ruins that person’s life,” one Facebook user wrote in a comment that received over 1,000 likes.
The comments ranged from sarcastic to serious:
Facebook users also bombarded their ratings section, where users can review pages. Fox 46 Charlotte reported that “The Lincolnton Police Department went from a five-star rated department to a 2.1 rated star department over the course of a few days.” In a post, the police boasted about the backlash:
“If you read the one star reviews you will notice we are being attacked because we enforce the drug laws of North Carolina. So basically the pro-drug crowd is rating us one star for doing our jobs. We see this as a good thing.“
Nevertheless, they ultimately removed their ratings system altogether.
“2009 Cadillac with Ohio registration was stopped for failure to display a front license plate. Criminal indicators were observed and a Patrol drug-sniffing canine alerted to the vehicle. A probable cause search revealed 600 grams of marijuana. “
Once again, trolls and concerned citizens flooded the page, leaving over 1,600 comments and calling the cops out for everything from stealing property to violating freedom and wasting resources chasing a plant (their page rating has dropped well below a 3.0). Still others called out the hypocrisy of the drug war and the dangers of legal drugs Some even questioned the philosophical and moral legitimacy of policing institutions all together:
Some mocked the cops:
Others were straightforward and blunt (no pun intended):
Some commenters defended the cops, claiming the fact that cannabis is illegal justified the bust or that the cops were just doing their job. Other commenters made sure to respond:
The same thing happened on a post from cops in Mt. Vernon, Indiana, where Posey County police seized “Over 50 pounds of marijuana” and, in turn, received an internet lashing:
One commenter claimed marijuana was killing her friend’s son, only to be shut down by a slew of pro-cannabis commenters:
In yet another post, on Friday, the Wharton County Sheriff’s Office in Texas claimed to have seized $25,000 worth of “alleged” drug money. After dissenters streamed onto their post, complaining that they stole a private citizen’s cash without even finding drugs, they evidently modified their post (see screenshots below), removing “alleged” and adding that the suspect had been arrested for money laundering.
Still, no evidence was presented, and in seven hours over 900 commenters had bombarded the post (some of the comments reflect the original post’s use of the term “alleged”:
When Anti-Media attempted to message the page for comment on what evidence they might have to warrant their actions, we received an “Action Blocked” notification (indicating they likely shut off private messages due to the spike in activity). Like Lincolnton police, they also appear to have removed their rating system (note the time in the upper right corner of each image):
These are just a few of the instances in which cops have received powerful pushback for bragging about enforcing a drug war much of the nation now believes is unwinnable. The increase in resistance has been largely assisted by at least one Facebook page: Liberty Memes. The libertarian page often posts about police brutality and misconduct, and last year made headlines when Facebook banned them over their anti-Hillary Clinton memes. According to their mission statement, Liberty Memes “uses memes to defend the libertarian principles of the rights to life, liberty, and property.”
The page has made a habit of sharing cops’ posts about drug busts and other controversial actions with their nearly 400,000 followers, providing a veritable alert system for those who want to express their opinions directly to the enforcement class.
As the page’s “Admin 2” told Anti-Media,”the intention is to very specifically get them to think twice about committing these actions, as they are in violation of their oaths and run contrary to a vast portion of public opinions.”
As the trend of trolling and confronting cops online grows, some departments have deleted comments, which experts say is unconstitutional. Several departments have been sued for doing so. Still, in many cases, the comments are left intact. This aligns with guidance from PoliceOne, a website for law enforcement that advises officers to leave comments on their pages unless they contain profanity or other potentially actionable threats.
As demonstrated this week, the internet is increasingly calling out cops for cannabis busts, both sarcastically mocking them and sincerely pointing out the ethical and logical problems that come with violently arresting nonviolent people over a plant that is increasingly found to provide medicinal benefits. But as this week also shows, it appears cops have yet to listen.