Sunday, May 25, 2008

Who killed Rachel Hoffman?

Nearly two weeks ago, an SSDP member lost her life in the crossfire of the War on Drugs

In memory of Rachel Morningstar Hoffman...
December 17, 1984 -
May 7, 2008

Donate to the Rachel Morningstar Foundation

Rachel Hoffman had just graduated from Florida State University, with plans to attend culinary school. As an undergrad, she was popular among her group of friends, many of whom she met through her involvement in FSU's chapters of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).

Like many college students, she shared marijuana with her friends, and would often "go in" on larger amounts in order to save money. And that's how she got busted.

Rachel was threatened with prison time, then promised a slap on the wrist if she agreed to wear a wire and set up a deal with her suppliers. Tallahassee police gave her $13,000 in cash and told her to purchase 1,500 ecstasy pills, 2 ounces of cocaine, and a handgun. They never informed her attorney, family, or the state prosecutor before they sent Rachel into the lions' den that day. And nobody had the chance to tell her she was in way over her head.

After police found Rachel's body, they held a press conference and blamed her for her own death. Among Rachel's family and friends, sadness quickly turned into outrage and action. Last Wednesday, hundreds of students marched in protest of the role the Tallahassee Police Department played in Rachel's death. They held signs that read "Who Killed Rachel?" and "No More Drug War" while wearing t-shirts from SSDP and other allied organizations. Please take a moment to watch this powerful video of the demonstration:
Protest video

In her memory, Rachel's parents have established the Rachel Morningstar Foundation, the goal of which is to pass a law requiring legal advice to be sought before a civilian can consent to undercover work. They will also work to decriminalize marijuana in Florida. Please make a generous donation to the foundation today, and include a personal note to Rachel's parents if you are moved to do so.

In the meantime, Rachel's murderers must be brought to justice. But the drug dealers who pulled the trigger clearly aren't the only ones responsible for her death. They are the police who coerced her into being an informant and the politicians who justify waging a War on Drugs to "protect young people from drugs," while using those very same young people as pawns in their deadly game. On Wednesday, one protester's sign poignantly asked, "Do you feel safe?"

Whether you are a student, an alum, an educator, or a nonstudent, there are plenty of ways you can join with SSDP in the fight to replace the War on Drugs with policies of regulation and control that will actually make us safe.

But for today, I hope you'll take a moment with me to reflect upon the countless lives lost in the name of this unjust war, and to honor the passing of one of our own.

Then, let's get to work.

Micah Daigle
National Field Director
Students for Sensible Drug Policy

No comments: