buckeyes-leaves.jpg

Great Moments in the Drug War

From the Columbus Dispatch

Tennessee police might need better instruction in botany and Buckeye football. A 65-year-old woman recently came under suspicion, she reported, for having a Buckeye leaf decal on her car. The cops mistook it for a marijuana symbol.

“It’s just amazing they would be that dumb,” Bonnie Jonas-Boggioni said.

She lives in Plano, Texas, but she grew up in Columbus and is known as a lifelong Buckeyes fan. She has served as president of the Ohio State Alumni Club in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. On Feb. 4, Jonas-Boggioni and husband Guido Boggioni, 66, were driving home to Plano after a trip to Columbus to attend the funeral of his mother, Eleanor, 92. They were in the westbound lanes of I-40, a few miles east of Memphis, when a black police SUV with flashing lights pulled them over, Jonas-Boggioni said. A second black SUV soon pulled up behind the first one.

Two black SUVs

“Knowing I wasn’t speeding, I couldn’t imagine why,” she said.

Two officers approached, one on each side of the car.

“They were very serious,” she said. “They had the body armor and the guns.”

Because the couple’s two schnauzers were barking furiously, one of the officers had Jonas-Boggioni exit the car so he could hear her better.

“What are you doing with a marijuana sticker on your bumper?” he asked her.

She explained that it is actually a Buckeye leaf decal, just like the ones that Ohio State players are given to put on their helmets to mark good plays.

Admittedly, the police cannot really  be expected to be botanists (and the leaves are not entirely dissimilar) or, indeed, experts in the iconography of Ohio State. 

But…

Before they let her go on her way, the officers advised Jonas-Boggioni to remove the decal from her car.

“I said, ‘You mean in Tennessee?’ and he said, ‘No, permanently.’

“I didn’t take it off. . . . This little old lady is no drug dealer.”

No she’s not. Nor more, it seems, than those policemen are respecters of the Constitution. But, then again, among the drug warriors, who is?

H/t: Reason

  1. skipsul

    Well, as a resident of the Buckeye State, I will point out that OSU basketball and football fans exhibit the usual signs of addiction to controlled substances.  Seriously, some days it’s all you hear.  Iran could nuke Tel Aviv, the Euro could collapse, Obama could nullify the Constitution outright, and all you’d hear on the radio would be whether OSU would be in the final 4.

    Dumb call on the Tennessee cops, but in the ballpark of ironic weirdness.

  2. Robert E. Lee

    As long as they beat the Wolverines.

  3. Devereaux
    Roberto: I’m more concerned that there are police officers out there who seem to view a sticker on a car as some sort of proxy for probable cause. 

    This is not a question of the drug war, this is simply a reflection of horrible training.  · 4 minutes ago

    Precisely! Even if it WAS a marijuana sticker, since when is that probable cause to stop someone. RICO is a horrible law that is being abused by many police organizations as simple highway robbery. It is no different than being stopped by a gang and robbed of your money. The flashing lights are not any real authority, as what they are doing is really outside the law. But unfortunately LEO’s have gotten accustomed to disregarding citizens’ rights in the mistaken idea that they can do anything they want with the badge.

    A sorry state we’re in.

  4. Joe

    From my understanding, municipalities that have jurisdiction over a stretch of highway will often “hire” cops from other local jurisdictions to patrol that stretch, then split the civil forfeiture proceeds under equitable sharing, which makes accountability even worse. And that’s really what this is about – civil forfeiture and Federal money. Here’s a chart from Drug War Facts showing the total civil forfeiture amounts across the country. In addition to the obvious 4th Amendment violation, there’s a 1st Amendment issue in that you can advocate for legalizing drugs without being harassed by the state for it.

    But probably the biggest and scariest violation of this mess regards reality – that certain people trusted to play domestic GI Joe are so detached that they think a drug dealer would advertise by driving around with a pot leaf sticker. These are probably the same ones that came to class and taught us smoking pot once would turn our brains to scrambled eggs. As unfunny as the drug war is, that made me chuckle.

    Also, as a Michigan alum, I’ll just acknowledge there are a lot of bad jokes I could make and move along. You’re welcome, Scott

  5. Kervinlee

    Help, it’s the police!

  6. Roberto
    Gracie

    QuickerBrownFox

    So we should be suspicious of two old people driving through a part of the country known for civil forfeiture abuse, yet guess at the circumstances so as to give the officers the benefit of the doubt? And why do you say that this event is highly unlikely? 

    Civil forfeiture laws are a problem everywhere and I would be in favor of either doing away with these laws or extreme modification of such.

    However, that doesn’t mean that I am willing to take at face value an unsubstantiated story.   I don’t think they were stopped because of the sticker on their bumper.   That is what is unlikely.    · 4 hours ago

    Is it? I am not so certain. Certainly all such reported stories, in fact ANY story reported, on the internet should be approached with due skepticism. However I have followed a number of discussions among law enforcement officials and a common refrain is that from 1/4 up to 1/3 of their colleagues  are unfit for that profession, as an aside public school teachers appear to generate similar numbers from their fellows. I do not believe your wholesale rejection of this incident is warranted Gracie.

  7. billy

    Enough is enough. Let’s legalize marijuana and be done with this nonsense.

  8. Gracie

    This story has been picked up everywhere, evidently from the same original source of that Ohio newspaper.   As far as I can tell it is totally uncorroborated by anyone.   As it seems to me to be a highly unlikely event, I am surprised that everyone seems to take it at face value.   Perhaps the recent events surrounding the manhunt in CA have made us ready to believe any tale of misbehavior by the police.

    If the couple were stopped, I would think it more likely that the cops were looking for a vehicle similar to theirs and just wanted to talk to the occupants.   They wouldn’t necessarily tell them that though, but might comment on the plant as a conversation opener.   Evidently they did not search the car so that has to tell us something. 

  9. Vance Richards

    If they had an Alabama sticker on the car, the police would have shot them on sight. In some parts, football is a much bigger deal than drugs.

  10. Franco

    Hard to believe? Not at all.

    Usually police find other reasons to stop people in order to find criminal offenses, so this is at least somewhat refreshing.

     Safety is a pretext for finding criminality. Whenever I hear a police officer utter words like “safety” and “care”, I cringe. He’s lying to himself and others. 

    I find it especially galling that they advised them to remove the sticker.

    Gracie: 

    If the couple were stopped, I would think it more likely that the cops were looking for a vehicle similar to theirs and just wanted to talk to the occupants.   They wouldn’t necessarily tell them that though, but might comment on the plant as a conversation opener.   Evidently they did not search the car so that has to tell us something.  

     I don’t know where the believe-the-police-first mentality comes from, but if your fantasy of what may have happened is true, then these police just made it much more difficult to prosecute these potential criminals by opening the conversation as you describe. 

  11. Joe
    Gracie: As far as I can tell it is totally uncorroborated by anyone.   As it seems to me to be a highly unlikely event, I am surprised that everyone seems to take it at face value.

    So we should be suspicious of two old people driving through a part of the country known for civil forfeiture abuse, yet guess at the circumstances so as to give the officers the benefit of the doubt? And why do you say that this event is highly unlikely?

  12. Mr. Dart
    Gracie: This story has been picked up everywhere, evidently from the same original source of that Ohio newspaper.   As far as I can tell it is totally uncorroborated by anyone.   As it seems to me to be a highly unlikely event, I am surprised that everyone seems to take it at face value.    · 15 hours ago

    I have to admit, Gracie, I don’t buy it either.  As a libertarian who thinks the so-called drug war is a total waste of time and money I would like to believe it, but it smells like a hoax to me.  Did they get badge numbers? Plate numbers? I sure would have.   The male in the story wasn’t so fearful of the  armored and armed officers that he couldn’t exit the vehicle and approach them to show off his sweatshirt. Yet he didn’t get a badge number.  Nor did they get plate numbers from either of those mean black SUV’s. 

    Why didn’t the “reporter” from the Columbus Dispatch make a few calls?  Maybe it was just too good a single-sourced tale to feed his Buckeye Booster readers to confuse it with a few facts. Maybe.

  13. Richard Finlay

    As a non-OSU resident of Ohio, I would favor outlawing buckeye stickers everywhere, just on general principles.

  14. skipsul
    Vance Richards: If they had an Alabama sticker on the car, the police would have shot them on sight. In some parts, football is a much bigger deal than drugs. · 4 hours ago

    Or Florida, after all OSU poached Urban Meyer from the Gators.

  15. Dave Carter
    C

    As government, at all levels, becomes more abusive of its citizens, pushing them around in matters large and small and ignoring their constitutional rights, it’s not surprising that its enforcement arm follows similarly.  I don’t see the issue going away anytime soon, unfortunately.  

  16. Franco
    Terry

    Gracie: This story has been picked up everywhere, evidently from the same original source of that Ohio newspaper.   As far as I can tell it is totally uncorroborated by anyone.   As it seems to me to be a highly unlikely event, I am surprised that everyone seems to take it at face value.    · 15 hours ago

    I have to admit, Gracie, I don’t buy it either.  …but it smells like a hoax to me.  Did they get badge numbers? Plate numbers? The male in the story wasn’t so fearful of the  armored and armed officers that he couldn’t exit the vehicle and approach them to show off his sweatshirt. Yet he didn’t get a badge number.  Nor did they get plate numbers from either of those mean black SUV’s. 

    Why didn’t the “reporter” from the Columbus Post Dispatch make a few calls?  Maybe it was just too good a single-sourced tale to feed his Buckeye Booster readers to confuse it with a few facts. Maybe. 

    Are you saying these people are lying? They are deliberately impugning police in order to boost their football team? Maybe? Maybe not.

  17. Franco
    Robert E. Lee: She’s lucky.  West bound in Tennessee the police are looking for drug money.  Various police agencies have almost had shoot-outs over who was going to keep all the money they could get their hands on.

    Tennessee State Troopers have a nasty reputation for shooting pet dogs, apparently for fun.  If children are watching, so much the better it seems. · 20 hours ago

    Here’s a report on I40

  18. Mr. Dart
    Franco

    Terry

    Gracie: This story has been picked up everywhere, evidently from the same original source of that Ohio newspaper.   As far as I can tell it is totally uncorroborated by anyone.   As it seems to me to be a highly unlikely event, I am surprised that everyone seems to take it at face value.    · 15 hours ago

    Why didn’t the “reporter” from the Columbus Post Dispatch make a few calls?  Maybe it was just too good a single-sourced tale to feed his Buckeye Booster readers to confuse it with a few facts. Maybe. 

    Are you saying these people are lying? They are deliberately impugning police in order to boost their football team? Maybe? Maybe not. · 14 minutes ago

    Beats me.  I don’t know them.  She wrote a letter to the Dallas Morning News about it too.  Could have happened. Maybe not.

    I usually don’t immediately believe what I read in newspapers, Franco. Especially with no second source or corroboration.  Reporters are at least as untrustworthy as policemen to me, generally.

    Every time I have been involved in stories reported upon in the media major facts have been wrong.  This story is hearsay with no verification.

  19. Gracie
    QuickerBrownFox

    Gracie: As far as I can tell it is totally uncorroborated by anyone.   As it seems to me to be a highly unlikely event, I am surprised that everyone seems to take it at face value.

    So we should be suspicious of two old people driving through a part of the country known for civil forfeiture abuse, yet guess at the circumstances so as to give the officers the benefit of the doubt? And why do you say that this event is highly unlikely? · 58 minutes ago

    Edited 56 minutes ago

    Civil forfeiture laws are a problem everywhere and I would be in favor of either doing away with these laws or extreme modification of such.

    However, that doesn’t mean that I am willing to take at face value an unsubstantiated story.   I don’t think they were stopped because of the sticker on their bumper.   That is what is unlikely.   

  20. Robert E. Lee
    Franco

    Here’s a report on I40 · 8 minutes ago

    Now if people would just watch this video.

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