Naked City

The Great Goose Creek Raid

Naked City

Things keep getting worse for officials in Goose Creek, S.C.; so far two separate lawsuits have been filed against the city's police department and against administrators at the city's Stratford High School in connection with a November drug raid there. On Nov. 5, cops in the Charleston suburb burst into Stratford High at 6:40am with guns drawn, and ordered students to get down on the floor while cops searched lockers and book bags for marijuana; students who didn't move fast enough were handcuffed. No drugs were found, but the raid has stirred up trouble for local police and for Stratford principal George McCracken, who reportedly called for the raid to help take care of the school's "drug problem."

McCracken later told reporters he had no idea the cops would come in with their guns drawn -- but did nothing to stop them. Goose Creek Police Lt. Dave Aarons said police drew their guns "as a matter of officer safety," reports the Drug Reform Coordination Network. Police had "qualified information" that drugs and "large amounts of money" would be found at the school -- so it stood to reason, Aaron said, that weapons would also be found.

Unfortunately, it wasn't just the drugs that were elusive; police also failed to find any stash of cash or weapons. But officials in Goose Creek have found a big old pile of trouble. Seventeen students filed a class action lawsuit Dec. 5, claiming that police and school officials had violated both their due process rights, and their constitutional rights to be free from unlawful searches. And on Dec. 15, the ACLU's Drug Policy Litigation Project was slated to file a lawsuit on behalf of 20 individual students, alleging Fourth Amendment search violations. But those two suits may be just the tip of the iceberg. While the ACLU project's Anjuli Verma told the DRCNet that the latest suit does not allege racial discrimination "at this point," the facts of the case "speak for themselves." Nearly 75% of Stratford's students are white, but 75% of the students caught up in the raid were black, leading some to charge that the raid was specifically intended to target the school's minority population, many of whom are bused in to the school and thus arrive much earlier in the morning than the mostly white neighborhood kids. For more info and pictures from the raid, check out www.thememoryhole.org.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Weed Watch, Stratford High School, drug raid, ACLU, Drug Reform Coordination Network, Goose Creek

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