Militarized police raids have become commonplace in the US over the past 40 years of the War on Drugs, and the terrible costs to American families continue to mount.
Police raids cost lives. Often, these are the lives of mistaken suspects, innocent bystanders, family pets, and the police themselves. 70,000 to 80,000 raids take place every year in America, with no end in sight as we mark 40 years of Nixonian Drug War violence on our calendars.
A few weeks ago, Reason released an emotionally gripping music video showing the disturbing footage taken by police on some of these raids to a song performed by Toronto-based musician Lindy. “No Knock Raid” is a beautiful and powerful melody that Reason calls “a searing indictment of one of the most aggressive, ubiquitous, and mistaken tactics in the War on Drugs.”
Libertarian activist Peter Jaworski finds out what’s behind the song and video in this interview with Lindy for Cannabis Culture.
Peter Jaworski: What motivated you to sing about no-knock raids?
Lindy Vopnfjord: I stumbled upon Radley Balko’s raid map one day and I was astonished. Also impressed how much work he had done on his own trying to expose what he called an epidemic of isolated incidents. The more the stories came to life in real time I was compelled to write a song about it. It just came out one day. The loss of life under this failed policy is nothing short of catastrophic both in terms of civilian and law enforcement casualties.
PJ: So there’s a strong Reason magazine connection there. How did you end up collaborating with them on this song?
LV: Janet Neilson from the Institute for Liberal Studies sent a video recording of the song to the folks at Reason. They really liked it and decided they wanted to make a proper video to coincide with LEAP’s marking of the 40th anniversary of the modern war on drugs. It has been a big thrill to work with them.
PJ: No-knock raids are not a hot topic in Canada. Why sing about an American problem?
LV: The American-led drug war has killed tens of thousands of people outside its borders. And Canada’s government does nothing to stop it. And besides it is absolutely revolting to use this kind of force on anyone in a so-called free country.
PJ: How would you describe your political views?
PJ: When did you realize you were a libertarian? What made you self-describe yourself that way?
LV: I was playing a gig at The Liberty Summer Seminar in Orono, Ontario and after listening to the speakers that afternoon I was pretty blown away. I had always been socially liberal and I didn’t like government all that much so it was like common sense when it was spelled out to me.
PJ: Being libertarian makes you fairly rare amongst indie musicians in Canada and, I guess, artists in general. Do you get any flak for your libertarian views? What’s it like being a libertarian in the music scene?
LV: I usually try to avoid talking about certain topics with other artists. Opinionated people don’t like having their views challenged. It can spoil a dinner party.
I find it equally surprising how conservatives ignore all the facts about prohibition and that left-liberals ignore the facts about economic liberty and free markets.
PJ: Can you be more specific about left-liberals? What significant fact or facts do they ignore when it comes to economic liberty and free markets?
LV: They forget that socialism was an utter failure. That hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of poverty because of economic freedom and trade liberalization. Those numbers don’t lie.
PJ: If you had to rank them, what are the three most important liberty-related issues in Canada? Put differently, if you could change just three policies in Canada, which ones would you change?
LV: 1. End the drug war. 2. I’d make government monopolies on goods and services illegal and end all tariffs and barriers to trade between provinces. 3. I’d shut down extra-judicial entities like “human rights commissions” because they are actually injurious to human rights.
PJ: You’ve written a song about the Human Rights Commissions and Tribunals called “Shakedown” (in honour of Ezra Levant’s book by the same name about these extra-judicial bodies). You’ve also written a song about no-knock raids. Are you planning or thinking about writing a song about Marc Emery’s situation?
LV: I have been trying for some time to write a song for Marc. I have three potential ideas. I’m just a bit stuck on the lyrics but I’ll get there soon!
PJ: You met Marc and Jodie Emery at the Liberty Summer Seminar. What do you think of Marc’s situation?
LV: Marc and Jodie are truly amazing. It sickens me how “law and order conservatives” are eager to throw away Canadian sovereignty just to satisfy their twisted desires. I can only hope that Marc will one day receive The Order of Canada and an apology.
PJ: Can we expect more pro-liberty songs from you in the future?
LV: No question about it!
Peter Jaworski is an Instructor and PhD candidate at Bowling Green State University. He is also a director of the Institute for Liberal Studies. He holds an MSc from the London School of Economics, and an MA from the University of Waterloo.