06/29/14 Bou Bou Phonesavanh

Cultural Baggage Radio Show

Baby Bou Bou has stun grenade explode on pillow, with Atty Mawuli Mel Davis, mother Alecia Phonesavanh, activist Marcus Coleman + DPA conference on Colo weed sales w/ Art Way and Tony Ryan

Audio file


Cultural Baggage / June 29, 2014


Broadcasting on the Drug Truth Network, this is Cultural Baggage.

“It’s not only inhumane, it is really fundamentally Un-American.”

“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”
“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”

DEAN BECKER: My Name is Dean Becker. I don’t condone or encourage the use of any drugs, legal or illegal. I report the unvarnished truth about the pharmaceutical, banking, prison and judicial nightmare that feeds on Eternal Drug War.


DEAN BECKER: The drug war is ending slow, ugly and bloody. We got a couple of segments today that show you why it is coming to an end.


DEAN BECKER: I know it is a difficult story to tell. I’ll tell you what I’m going to ask the attorney to get us started. Attorney Davis, if you would, sir, please tell us what happened that night.

MAWULI MEL DAVIS: On May 28th the Phonesavanh family was actually preparing – they were asleep at 3 in the morning – but they were preparing to move back to Wisconsin and were supposed to be leaving on Thursday.

While they slept there was a no-knock search warrant that was executed by the Habersham sheriff’s department along with the police department and joint task force. They battered down their door. They were staying in a room that had been a garage converted into a room.

Once they entered they threw in a stun grenade – a grenade and an explosive device. They threw it into the crib of the Phonesavanh’s youngest child, Bou Bou, who was 18-months at the time. While his mother and three sisters slept in the bed and his father slept on a mat next to the bed this explosive device severely injured and burned young Bou Bou who was a sleep in his playpen.

It had a devastating effect on his young body. It blew open his face. It blew open his chest. He going to have reconstructive surgery to his face, to his nose. He still has a hole in his chest and it caused some brain damage. We’re not sure how much. They are still assessments that are going but we’re not sure how much damage has actually been done to his brain.

It’s a miracle that he is alive. It’s an unbelievable example of how the militarization of the police force in America and the no-knock search warrants can injure innocent people and disturb the life and livelihood of this entire family.

That’s what happened in Cornelia, Georgia on May the 28th and since then activists and organizer Marcus Coleman has helped and worked with family very closely to try to bring attention to this tragedy and also to just try to help the family through this time of gloom because they are living in a hotel.

They were burned out of their house in Wisconsin which resulted to them moving to Cornelia and they were bombed out of their house in Cornelia. Now they are living in a hotel in the Atlanta area and trying to take care and nurse their son who is in a rehabilitative hospital in the Atlanta Metro area.

DEAN BECKER: Thank you, Attorney Davis. Now this is another, as you say, glaring example of the militarization of our police force. I understand that there are tens of thousands of such SWAT raids – many of them so unnecessary. Your response, please, sir.

MAWULI MEL DAVIS: The fact that so many military tactics, military equipment is being used in the inner-city and the cities across America on American citizens should be troubling to the people of America in general and in Georgia in particular. This is something that we see being used and the result is usually injury or death and it is not for a substantial amount of drugs. It’s not for a mass murderer. It is for a small amount of drugs in most instances.

I do want to point out the Phonesavanhs are not involved and never were involved in any kind of drug activity. There were no drugs found at this home. There were no guns found at this home. There were no arrests made at this home.

The person they were looking for they found about one mile away in another house and they just simply knocked on the door and he came out and they arrested him without any incident so the idea that they served a no-knock search warrant and a stun grenade like this is really quite absurd.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, sir. As I understand it there were children’s car seats in the car and toys on the ground - every indication that this was not some kind of drug house, correct?

MAWULI MEL DAVIS: That’s correct. There was a minivan parked right...as you entered the door – the door that they went through – they had to walk past the minivan with those stickers on the back that showed the father, the mother, the children and a baby carriage that showed they had a baby.

They had the four car seats and they had a playpen that was sitting right outside the door. They had two playpens – one they used for baby Bou Bou when they were out playing in the driveway and the front yard and one that he slept in. These officers, the sheriff made the allegation that there was no evidence of children is, again, a complete denial of the evidence. The evidence was there. If you’re concerned and do proper look-out and proper surveillance.

For all of this to be present and for them not to recognize that they were going to be jeopardizing the lives of children just does not reach the standard of professional policing that we should expect from certified police officers.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, sir. You mentioned...I mean I would think that in anticipation of a SWAT type raid like this that they would have had ongoing surveillance and known what they were up to. Your thought there, sir?

MAWULI MEL DAVIS: It’s unfortunate with the way these no-knock search warrants in Georgia there is really no statute that controls what is to be done prior to entering a residence. There is no requirement that they maintain an ongoing surveillance while the person goes to secure the warrant. That is not a requirement.

We believe that it should be. We believe that it should be an extensive amount of surveillance before you go into a home like this under these circumstances. It didn’t happen and that is, again, what is so problematic that unfortunately we don’t think and according to the ACLU reports just recently released it just appears that militarization of police is just a common occurrence. I think we’re beginning to just accept this as a way of life and we shouldn’t.

DEAN BECKER: I agree with you, sir.

If Alecia is still available...are you still there, Alecia?

ALECIA PHONESAVANH: Yes, I am still here.

DEAN BECKER: I want to just ...this is so difficult. I just want to say we want to relay our thoughts and our hopes and our prayers that young Bou Bou recovers well and can have a productive life.

I want to ask you this. How does it feel to be inundated, to be raided in such a fashion when you’ve done nothing wrong?

ALECIA PHONESAVANH: Well, you know, coming from my background I’ve been in the medical field for the last almost 15 years and I’ve...it’s...you know my husband and I are good people. We work hard. We do what we can in the community. We help other people and for this to happen the way it did and for us to have to feel like we are being treated like criminals and then on top of that finding out what they did not only to my husband but also to my son it’s not justifiable in any way. There’s no way you can look at this and think, “OK, they made a mistake.”

This is not just a mistake. This is lack of planning. This is lack of information and lack of knowing their job. They clearly showed that they had practically no training on a situation like this at all. The way they handled it was very unprofessional. The way they yelled at us, the way they cussed at us and the way they lied to us it’s very overwhelming.

There are so many feelings that come to my mind – mostly hurt for my son, angry towards the whole team that was there. I am just disgusted with the whole team as well. It is just very unprofessional and...I don’t know. It just makes me very sick to my stomach to talk about it. I’m sorry...

DEAN BECKER: You’ve said plenty for the other mothers and interested people across America to understand your feelings. This is their friend and activist, Mr. Marcus Coleman.

Marcus, would you like to share that website and spell it for us, please?

MARCUS COLEMAN: Attorney Davis I heard you give a more recent one today so let me let you do that.

MAWULI MEL DAVIS: http://www.justiceandprayersforboubou.org/

Again, activist Marcus Coleman has been critical in helping get this family around to different churches and in front of different people who can try to assist them in their time of need. What we do know is that the bills are stacking up. They are having to live in a hotel. They are having to feed their three daughters and it’s been very, very difficult.

The other thing I think the listening audience across America should know is that the father, his rotator cuff was torn when these officers came in and brutalized him. So they bombed his son and they brutalized him so he’s having problems now that he can hold the baby even being able to hold him because he has a torn rotator cuff because of the violent manner in which they came in and assaulted him during this whole uncalled for, unwarranted process.

MARCUS COLEMAN: The sheriff’s department is claiming that this is all just a tragedy, an unfortunate tragedy but the treatment of this family... Attorney Davis pointed out that there were no drugs seized. There were no arrests made.

After the tragedy, the accident which was basically blown to pieces the treatment of the mother and the father was unprofessional to say the least. They were told to shut up repeatedly. They were actually lied to about the extent of their child’s injuries. They were told that he only sustained a loss of a tooth upon injury.

Attorney Davis pointed out that the father’s rotator cuff had been torn. He was actually [inaudible] as he was trying to ask what was wrong with his son. This family was told that they would be able to...first of all the child was transported to the number one trauma center here in Atlanta without their knowledge that he had even left the premises, let alone the extent of his injuries. They were told that they would be able to go and pick their child up.

They did not learn...the treatment was horrific to say the least but they were not aware of the extent of their child’s injuries until they actually arrived at the hospital. That is unprofessionalism let alone we think this could have been prevented in the first place but the treatment of a family who (as Attorney Davis pointed out) were not the suspect. There were no drugs seized. There were no arrests made. If this was such a tragic accident they should have had a real compassion once they found out that this tragedy had happened and they had none.

DEAN BECKER: I want to thank all of you for speaking about this situation and just know that...ah...there is a lot of us that are there with you.


MARCUS COLEMAN: That’s Bou Bou trying to speak – trying to let the world know what has happened to him and get back to being a normal 19-month-old.



DEAN BECKER: The following is from the Washington Post by our good friend of the show, Radley Balko.

“The American Civil Liberties Union has released reports showing that 62% of SWAT raids were to conduct searches for drugs. Under 80% were to serve a search warrant. Only 7% were for hostage, barricade or active shooter scenarios. At least 36% no contraband was found whatsoever and SWAT tactics are disproportionately used on people of color.”


(Game show music)

DEAN BECKER: It’s time to play: Name That Drug by Its Side Effects.

Responsible for countless overdose deaths, uncounted diseases, international graft, greed and corruption, stilled science and events, unchristian moral postulations of fiction as fact.


Time’s up!

The answer: and this Drug is the United States’ immoral, improper, bigoted, unscientific and plain F-ing evil addiction to Drug War.

All approved by the FDA, absolved by that American Medical Association and persecuted by Congress and the cops and in abeyance to the needs of the bankers, the pharmaceutical houses and the international drug cartels.

$550 billion a year can be very addicting.


SHARDA SEKARAN: Hello. Thank you everyone this is Sharda Sekaran. I am the managing director of communications at the Drug Policy Alliance. We are very grateful to all of you for joining us on this teleconference call.

As you know this is a historic moment that we are in. It has been 6 months since marijuana legalization went into effect in the state of Colorado so we are very fortunate to have a group of speakers here who will give great overview of what has happened since then and some of the aspects that marijuana legalization that are important to note at this moment.

To get us started we are going to have Art Way who is the senior publishing manager for the state of Colorado for the Drug Policy Alliance. Art is going to talk about some of the early impacts of public health and safety in Colorado and the criminal justice system. Thanks Art.

ART WAY: Thank you Sharda and I’d like to thank everybody for joining us. We are six months into the transition to a system of taxing and regulating marijuana for adult use after nearly a century of prohibition. Fortunately the early numbers are positive.

There is definitely an economic benefit taking place within the state. Regarding the overreach of the criminal justice system there is a human benefit taking place as well thanks to the voters of Colorado and Amendment 64.

It all began with sort of an overview of what we’ve seen regarding the criminal justice impact of legalizing marijuana in Colorado. In the first few months of 2014 counties across the state have issued less than 900 marijuana-related citations so far this year. These citations or arrests in addition to what we’ve seen in the city of Denver at about 260 citations or arrests puts the state on track to adjudicate less than 3,000 marijuana-related cases in 2014.

This is less than the nearly 5,000 marijuana-related cases we saw in 2013 which was our first full year of decriminalization and far, far less than the 10 to 12,000 marijuana-related charges we saw during the last decade of prohibition here in the state.

No doubt as across the country marijuana prohibition in Colorado was heavily focused on minor possession and now that adults in the state are allowed to possess an ounce we are seeing a sharp decrease in the amount of marijuana-related charges handed out in the state. Most importantly this means that thousands of Coloradans are no longer dealing with the criminal justice system and the consequences of marijuana prohibition.

Since such cases in Colorado cost about 300 dollars to adjudicate millions of dollars have been saved within the judicial system to coincide with the tax revenue being brought in by Amendment 64 and recreational sales of marijuana.

Based on a report done by the Colorado Center on Law and Fiscal Policy the state will expect to save anywhere from 12 to 40 million dollars by no longer adjudicating these minor marijuana possession cases in the state of Colorado.

Outside of the criminal justice system we are also seeing some possible unintended benefits. According to Uniform Crime Reporting data for Denver there has been a 10% decrease in overall crime from this time last year and it saw a 5.2% decrease in violent crime. This also includes burglaries. Moreover, burglaries regarding dispensaries may reach a three year low as the first year of recreational sales comes to a close in the state of Colorado.

Most recently a paper published by the scientific and physician journal [inaudible] states that the reduction of violent crime could be related to the historic selling of marijuana for adults here in the state of Colorado.

It’s also a bit early to get analysis on traffic data but what we can tell so far based on information from the Colorado Department of Transportation that as always the lack of seatbelt use, alcohol and poly-drug use remains the primary culprit regarding fatal car crashes in the state. The state will soon engage in ramped up enforcement efforts for the July 4th weekend as they did a few months back for St. Patrick’s Day. What we learned from the St. Patrick’s Day weekend, once again, alcohol-related citations and so forth dwarfed what we saw from marijuana – something like 450 to 3.

So far regarding public health and safety things are looking good in the first 6 months of taxed and regulated adult use/sale of marijuana in Colorado. I’ll finish with another positive note. Just today the Department of Revenue issued a press release stating that underage compliance tests in the state of Colorado (primarily Pueblo and Denver) were successful regarding the marijuana industry. They received a 100% rating. Not on dispensary in the city of Denver and the city of Pueblo was caught selling marijuana to youth so that’s more positive news coming from the state during the first 6 months of recreational marijuana sales in the state of Colorado.

With that, Sharda, I’ll turn it back over to you to let other speakers bring up some other important issues.

SHARDA SEKARAN: Our next speaker is Tony Ryan who is a former Denver police officer and a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. He’ll be speaking on the role of police under legalization now in Colorado.

Thank you, Tony.

TONY RYAN: Thank you. It should be short and sweet. As far as law enforcement is concerned from our point of view at LEAP and my point of view as a former Denver officer for 36 years - 26 in charge of officers on the street – I’ll say this. The war on drugs is a great distraction to law enforcement efforts as far as communities are concerned and if we start to look at real facts in Colorado legalizing the drug that is most enforced in the war on drugs was a boon to finally work the law enforcement officers to actually answer the calls but also to how they stand in the public’s eye.

Drug enforcement activity is probably one of the highest complaint sources to any police department in the country. Most of the time you’ll see something going on where law enforcement officers are acting badly or improperly it has something to do with some kind of drug enforcement like a drug raid or something - you always hear about the dog being shot or a kid being shot or something.

A lot of this was marijuana-related and now in Colorado we are not doing that anymore because marijuana is legal for adults – people over age 21, rightfully so.

That means what can law enforcement do if they are not tied up doing that? They can do what people really want law enforcement to do and that is to answer calls for service. Whenever somebody picks up a phone and calls the police department requests the services of police officer it is really important to them. If they don’t need police officers to be short because there is a lot of them answering drug enforcement activity or other such special assignments. What they need is the guys in uniform to show up as fast as possible and answer what to them, at least, is something really important or they wouldn’t have called law enforcement in the first place.

So now law enforcement can actually do what is more law enforcement related in the eyes of most people – help come solve their problems. They come home and find out their house has been burglarized they want to report this and have an investigation started “yesterday”. They don’t want to wait two hours which could be the case in rural communities where there aren’t very many officers around but in a place like Denver there are plenty if they aren’t otherwise distracted.

So the main parts are law enforcement can lose some of the bad parts of its reputation on behalf of some of its officers and they can better gain the confidence of the society they serve and better respond to the needs of their society.

SHARDA SEKARAN: Our next speaker is Jordan Wellington. He is the director of compliance at Vicente Sederberg LLC. He will talk about tax revenue and the governor’s proposed tax allocation plan.

Thank you for joining us Jordon Wellington.

JORDON WELLINGTON: Let me point out that we pay somewhere between15 and 20 million dollars in state taxes so far this year as the marijuana industry that includes sales taxes and excise taxes. In addition to that there is a host of other local licensing fees, local taxes that have been applied in addition to our state application fees and things like that. The number is considerably higher.

The governor’s office is currently working on a proposal how to spend that money. The legislature has had a spending bill which took a very conservative approach and decided to spend a limited amount of money and did not base it on a more aggressive tax projection for the whole year which is somewhere between 60 and 100 million dollars probably when it is all said and done.

As Mike mentioned there is probably two major things that these tax revenues go towards and that is, first of all, either fully funding the regulatory structure and then, secondarily, dealing with the various aspects of marijuana legalization mostly around public health and education. One of the things that we feel very strongly about is the importance of education about responsible use and that’s something we’ve been talking to the governor’s office about for quite some time.


DEAN BECKER: I’ll have much more from this teleconference and even last week’s conference at the Baker Institute. News is happening so fast it’s hard to crowd it all in to one half hour.

Working with the Baker Institute and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition we’re going to Washington, DC on July 29th to hand deliver a copy of my book, “To End the War on Drugs: The policy maker’s edition” to every member of congress, to every senator, representative, the president, the justices of the supreme court. We are going to mail a copy to every governor across these United States.

We’re calling for a debate on December 17th – the 100 year anniversary of the drug war – to clarify the need for another 100 years of these second attempt at prohibition.

As always I remind you that because of prohibition you don’t know what’s in that bag. Please, be careful.


DEAN BECKER: To the Drug Truth Network listeners around the world, this is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage and the Unvarnished Truth.

This show produced at the Pacifica Studios of KPFT Houston.

Tap dancing… on the edge… of an abyss.

Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org