Last year, Pot-TV newswoman Loretta Nall returned to her rural Alabama home after a shopping trip to find a swarm of police officers tearing her home apart.
The officers studied green goose defecation in her yard, believing it to contain marijuana. They stole files from her computer; they also stole other personal and professional items. They confiscated a wax-covered set of weighing scales that Nall used to weight out candlemaking ingredients. They claim to have seized a huge amount of marijuana: .87 grams, not even enough to roll a phattie. They arrested Nall and charged her with two misdemeanors.
Nall had to do her own legal work to find out about the charges, she says, because her attorney Rick Lyerly showed up late for a court appearance, failed to respond to queries in a timely manner, and basically advised her to give up her rights and accept a plea bargain.
Nall fired Lyerly and decided to represent herself. Nall says Lyerly responded by refusing to give Nall the prosecution’s legal documents she needed to defend herself, and by filing a lawsuit against her seeking thousands of dollars in legal fees for services Nall says Lyerly never performed effectively or with her informed consent.
During the year that Nall’s case has dragged on, she consulted several prominent “marijuana movement” lawyers, and also contacted NORML, trying to get help. She says she has been “amazed and disappointed” by the “lack of courage” displayed by some movement attorneys and advocacy groups, all of whom advised her to give up and plea bargain.
Finally, she found a superlative attorney, Wilson Myers, and was ready for a court date in October that the prosecutor abruptly canceled. She now has no idea when her trial will take place, but her lawyer has warned her that she is almost certain to be convicted, and that the prosecutor told the lawyer that he intends to “make it a war and go for the maximum penalty of two years in prison and $4000 in fines.”
Undaunted, when Nall heard that a hit team of gun-wielding police had stormed Stafford High School in Goose Creek, South Carolina on November 5th, she immediately phoned Marc Emery, the famed Canadian seed seller and political activist who funds Pot-TV and Nall’s activism.
Emery sent her to Goose Creek; she says she is “deeply troubled” by what she found there.
“The police came into the main wing of this rather posh high school, the wing where most of the school’s black students congregate, at 6:50 am, just after two buses from the black neighborhoods had let off their students,” she reports. “They locked down the main wing, pointed guns at student’s heads, searched them with dogs, and found absolutely nothing. It reminds me of the movie ‘Bowling for Columbine,’ except this time, it was the police who were the gun-toting terrorists.”
Goose Creek police had been called to the school by Principal George McCrackin, who monitors his students with 72 video cameras. McCrackin claimed he had seen lots of marijuana-dealing activity in the school. He defended his decision to bring police into the school, and refused to criticize police for pointing guns at defenseless students.
Goose Creek police Lt. Dave Aarons was also unapologetic. Police had their guns out as “a matter of officer safety,” he said. “I don’t think it was an overreaction. Anytime you have qualified information regarding drugs and large amounts of money, there’s a reasonable assumption weapons are involved.”
Nall says that McCrackin and Aarons are “full of bullshit.”
“No students had any drugs or guns,” Nall explains. “The raids created a very dangerous situation for no reason. The police terrorized a group of students, most of them African-American, and then walked away empty-handed and unapologetic, like a bunch of Nazi assholes.”
In Goose Creek, Nall conducted protests, displaying banners saying “DARE to keep cops off kids” and other slogans. She watched a mostly-white crowd of students and parents organize a rally in favor of the police and principal, and stood with black students and their parents at a counter-protest.
“The rich white kids say they are glad the police did this to the other students, because drugs are deadly and the school needs to get rid of druggies,” she reports. “The black kids and parents are scared to say out loud that this is a racist incident, even though they say it in private, but while I was in Goose Creek, handing out pamphlets and trying to protest what the police did, white people said to me, ‘Don’t you have anything better to do with your time than helping niggers?'”
Nall led protests outside the Goose Creek Police Station, and also met with local African-American activists in the NAACP organization.
“I was terrified that I was going to get beat up by some of the racists who support racism and the drug war,” she said. “They really harassed me. I found out that the stoner kids who go to that school are also terrified. Their parents are going to pull them out of there so they can go to better schools. Nobody wants to send their child to school so that police can point guns at them.”
Nall is familiar with police harassment of schoolchildren.
According to police records and testimony of Nall’s daughter Bell, the raid on Nall’s home happened because a police officer stationed at Bell’s school was told by Bell’s first-grade teacher, Beth Shaw, that Bell had mentioned “green plants” during a class discussion.
Without any evidence to support her assumption, Shaw believed that Bell was talking about marijuana plants, and told police officer Eric McCain, who later wrote that he knew that Nall was a marijuana activist because he had seen a pro-marijuana editor’s letter from her in a local newspaper. McCain led the raid on Nall’s house.
Nall later learned that McCain and Shaw had been secretly interrogating Bell and her son Alex. Nall wrote a letter to the school principal and demanded that drug warriors leave her children alone, but early this year, Bell says, her second grade teacher Mrs. East brought a man into the classroom, a man who “befriended” Bell by taking her to a secluded area of the school’s playground, playing kickball with her for several days, and asking her personal questions about herself and her parents.
At one point, Nall reports, the man asked Bell if her parents used or possessed marijuana.
“When I heard about this, I was very angry, especially when I found out that this man was a police officer and the husband of Bell’s teacher,” Nall says. “Part of me wonders if he wasn’t attempting to molest my daughter, but regardless of that, he was interrogating her, without authorization to even be on school grounds, after I had sent a certified letter to the school principal telling him that no police officer or anybody else was to question my children at school unless I was present or an attorney was present.”
The feisty Alabama activist says she is not surprised that school principals and teachers are in cahoots with vicious drug warriors.
“We saw it in the Webster Alexander case in Northern Alabama; the principal was a former law enforcement officer who called in the police on his students,” she says. “There are DARE officers in almost every school in America, lying to kids and encouraging them to nark on their parents and friends. There are police officers pointing guns at students. America is a Nazi police state. I am going to do everything I can to fight it.”
For more information: alabama.usmjparty.com
Nall’s pot-tv show based on her work in South Carolina is scheduled to air during the week of November 17th.