The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Matt Sutton,

Drug Policy Alliance Statement on Derek Chauvin's Defense Attempting to Use Drugs as Justification for George Floyd's Death

Drug involvement—whether perceived or real—is no excuse to disregard the dignity and sanctity of human life.


In response to the Derek Chauvin's defense opening the George Floyd Trial today arguing drugs were responsible for George Floyd's death, Kassandra Frederique, Executive Director of theDrug Policy Alliance (DPA), released the following statement:

"It's no secret how George Floyd died. The world witnessed those nine and a half painful minutes as Derek Chauvin held his knee to Floyd's neck. And yet, today, his defense opened the trial arguing that drugs are what killed him. This is unconscionable, but not at all surprising. Drug involvement--whether perceived or real--has long been used as a cover for law enforcement to harass, inflict violence upon and even kill Black, Latinx and Indigenous people.

We know exactly what killed George Floyd. It's the systems that have been created through the parasitic relationship between policing, the drug war and racism. These systems empower officers like Derek Chauvin to operate with impunity, snuff out Black life and attempt to avoid any and all accountability.

And while we want to see justice for George Floyd, this trial--regardless of the verdict--will not be enough. So long as the drug war remains, Black, Latinx and Indigenous people will continue to have a bounty on their heads. They will continue to be gunned down in their beds, like Breonna Taylor, or held down until they can't breathe, like George Floyd, Daniel Prude, and too many others. The deep-seated structural racism and stigma around people who use drugs lead to horrific outcomes across the country. Until we dispense with the notion that people involved with drugs--or even thought to be involved with drugs--are not guaranteed the same right to dignity and life, we will continue to fight."

The Drug Policy Alliance is the nation's leading organization promoting drug policies grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights.

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