Dan Feidt, producer of DRE drug scandal video, talks about Occupy, police, and the war on drugs
Feidt believes the DRE scandal is a consequence of police's systematic attempt to disrupt Occupy and the war on drugs.
Dan Feidt is the journalist and producer primarily responsible for MK Occupy Minnesota, the video making the explosive allegation that Minnesota officers have offered Peavey Plaza protesters drugs as an enticement for participation in the State Patrol's now-suspended Drug Recognition Expert program.
Feidt, 29, is a journalist-turned-web developer who still does some independent reporting when he comes across a great story, which is obviously the case with the DRE drug scandal. City Pages reached him yesterday to pick his brain about the drug scandal and its connection with the Occupy movement and the war on drugs.
During our conversation, Feidt repeatedly insisted that to him, the DRE scandal is further evidence of the need for reform of America's drug laws. He characterized his "money quote" as "the war on drugs is a corrupt Wall Street scam."
Feidt, who has been involved with the Occupy movement from the beginning, said he first noticed something bizarre about the way police treated Occupy protesters last year while working with Occupy Wall Street in New York. "There was a pattern. Police would pick up intoxicated people [in various parts of town], and say, 'we can take you to detox, or we can take you to Occupy.'" He said he heard about Minnesota officers dropping off intoxicated people near the Hennepin County Government Plaza last fall, which at that time was home to Minnesota's Occupy movement. Now, Occupy's home is Peavey Plaza.
Both Forest Olivier (second from right) and Michael Bounds (third from right), pictured "Occupying" US Bancorp Center last night, claim police got them high.
Feidt said he doesn't think Minnesota and Minneapolis officers giving people drugs is anything new. "The word around town has been that this type of thing has been going on for years, but in this case it got lined up with the Occupy site. When we put the video out, we heard from people that this had happened to them before, especially in neighborhoods like Phillips," Feidt said.
So are Minneapolis officers and city officials lying when they say they knew nothing about the drug scandal? Feidt believes they know more than they're letting on. He cites a sequence early in MK Occupy where a Minneapolis squad car can be seen pulling away from Peavey Plaza along with an outstate trooper's car.
Regarding that sequence, Feidt says Minneapolis officials "are downplaying that. The experiences that are out there on the street do involve the Minneapolis police... people have described being offered drugs by the MPD in previous years."
"The mayor and the Minneapolis Police Department don't want to have to acknowledge the fact that the war on drugs is an abusive system that triggers financial corruption and money laundering," Feidt said. "Minneapolis is a major financial hub, and [officials] can't acknowledge how much drug money flows through the financial system of this city. They look the other way, just like they looked the other way on DRE."
Even if officers would've refrained from dosing Peavey Plaza protesters, Feidt says that doesn't change the fact that the DRE program is "very dangerous and irresponsible" in its design.
"It's unsafe and unethical to drop off intoxicated people in public places, and not have an ambulance with full medical staff at the Richfield facility" where testing occurred, Feidt said, adding that DRE "doesn't help people sober up or find treatment."
Based on how intoxicated some of the Peavey Plaza protesters seemed to be after they were returned downtown by police, Feidt said it's possible that police were giving out more than just marijuana.
Police are "incredibly unlikely to check [the pot] to see whether it was laced with anything. Nobody ever established the purity of these drugs they were handing out," he said.
Feidt: "The war on drugs is a corrupt Wall Street scam."
From the broadest standpoint, Feidt believes the DRE scandal is a direct consequence of the war on drugs and the punitive, dehumanizing approach that authorities take toward drug users.
"The whole point of [DRE] is to take regular officers from rural districts and bring them into the loop of the war on drugs, train them to treat people like objects and not to look for treatment or to deescalate situations," Feidt said. "It gets to the larger nature of the war on drugs and the effort to get officers to treat people like objects."
"The war on drugs is just this unbelievably messed-up system. It's a huge policy failure," Feidt said, adding that the way lawmakers compartmentalize the financial crimes associated with drug dealing is "unbelievable."
"Everybody has had some kind of sketchy drug-war experience, and that's why people can relate to the video," he said.
Previous coverage of the DRE scandal:
-- DRE drug scandal: City of Minneapolis denies involvement as outstate officers take heat
-- Police did indeed give Occupiers free pot, new evidence suggests; DRE program suspended
-- State Patrol: "No evidence" officers gave Occupy-ers drugs
-- State patrol "looking into" Occupy drug allegations; Mpls police claim no involvement
-- Minnesota police giving Peavey Plaza Occupy-ers drugs as part of impairment study, report says [VIDEO]
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