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September 4th, 2008

Rachel Hoffman – Thrown to the Wolves

When Rachel Hoffman was busted with a small amount of pot and a few ecstasy pills, the Tallahassee Police Department decided to use her as an informant for a big time bust - a shocking decision that led to the 23 year-old's brutal murder at the hands of two career criminals and drug dealers. Please be sure to watch the 20/20 investigation video and read my thoughts below...

It's sad to think the bastard police chief and the rest who are responsible will get away with this - with not so much as a slap on the wrist, I'm sure.

The police chief is one loathsome monster; not only did he throw that poor girl to the wolves, when they killed her, he turned around and smeared her good name all over the media - labeling her a "drug dealer" with "felony charges pending" - to make themselves look better and stifle sympathy for her. She was never convicted of anything. What happened to innocent before being proven guilty?! He can't stand there at a press conference and call her a "drug dealer" if she was never convicted of being so. Why is nothing being done about what they did and how they handled it afterward?

Not only did the Tallahassee PD essentially kill Rachel Hoffman, they tried to slander her and drag her reputation through the mud - they knew the public would outcry about a non-convicted, small-time pot user (a 23 year-old woman at that) being sent into such an appallingly dangerous situation; the bastards didn't even follow her to ensure her safety. So the police chief spun it that Rachel was a drug dealer dealing with other drug dealers; as if she made such big drug and weapons buys all the time. How can that man look at himself in the mirror every day? One wonders if he has children, and what he would do in Rachel's father's shoes?

It would appear that the Tallahassee PD had no regard for the safety of Rachel Hoffman and that - to them - her life was expendable. In their eyes, she was just another "criminal"; not someone worthy of any respect or protection. They used the charges against her to manipulate and scare her into being an informant and doing a huge drug bust because she refused to narc out her friends and acquaintances. I have no doubt in my mind that she was coerced and intimidated - possibly even lied to - in order to bring down two big time drug dealers. The TPD cared about making a big bust, not about the safety of the young woman they used to try and make it. They also lulled her into a false sense of safety, and then essentially abandoned her; it doesn't take any police training to know that Rachel should have been followed the entire time. Sending her to deal with two hardcore criminals/drug dealers/arms dealers, they never should have let her out of their sight.

I also question the smarts of the TPD in setting up the bust - surely they knew the two men might be tipped off by the setup. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that a young, white woman contacting two black drug dealers that she does not know and who do not know her to make a big buy of drugs and a weapon purchase is a little sketchy. I'd imagine the two men felt something was fishy from the get-go, and planned all along to lead her to a deserted place where cell phones would be a moot point and the cops were not likely to follow. Poor Rachel was sent right into a death trap.

The whole thing just infuriates me - there is NO WAY these police officers or that department should be allowed to get away with this. I truly hope justice is done for Rachel and her family & loved ones, and that some good comes out of her senseless death.

A few posters at Digg commented on Rachel being at fault for what happened to her, by choosing to be a "loser" and smoke pot in the first place. One poster in particular insisted that since it was "illegal" there is no sympathy to be had for Rachel and what was done to her...and that if you don't like the laws, move elsewhere. I took issue with every bit of this rhetoric and responded thus:

I know plenty of professionals and and highly-paid individuals who smoke pot - I certainly wouldn't call them "losers". Lumping every pot smoker into the category of "loser" doesn't seem quite fair...especially since it isn't true and can't be proven. People all over the U.S. smoke or have smoked pot; and the majority of those people live normal, functional, and very productive lives.

In a democracy, the idea is not to move away from the area that has laws you do not like, but to fight to try and reform those laws that you feel are not Constitutional or fair. I'm not alone in my thinking:

"Dissent is the highest form of patriotism."
- Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

"If our democracy is to flourish, it must have criticism; if our government is to function it must have dissent."
- Henry Commager (1902 - 1998)

"We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it."
- Edward R. Murrow (1908 - 1965)

We have a right to empathize with Rachel Hoffman, and we have a duty to her - as a fellow human being and an American - to rally against the injustices done unto her. Pot smoker or no, this young woman did not deserve to be used in the manner she was nor did she deserve to die for smoking weed. This is about corruption and abuse of power in the police department - a lack of value for human life. Someone must stand up and say "This is not right!", there have to be people that decry, "That is enough!" It is the only way change can or will ever happen - and America, as a democracy, is about change and shaping the future. Had no one stood up and cried out against the injustices of slavery and women's inability to vote, then nothing would have changed and laws that should not have been laws in the first place, would have stayed in place.

The "war on drugs" is wrong and misplaced - and people will (and should) fight against it. Rachel Hoffman is only one of its many victims. To blame her for her own death, to say she "got what she deserved" is simply callous. To imply that her parents failed to raise her properly because she smoked pot is utterly ridiculous. Many professionals and well-adjusted individuals who live perfectly normal lives smoke pot every day - it is not the demon the government has made you to believe it is. Rachel Hoffman could have gone on to live a happy, successful and normal life - even if she had continued to smoke pot for the rest of it. She was not and likely would never have been a "loser". The only "bad decision" on her part was having faith in those sworn to serve and protect her - and all of us.

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