In my last post, I covered the 1997 arrest and subsequent conviction and imprisonment of Robert Ed Forchion, also known as NJWeedman. As I write, we remain in the midst of sustained nationwide protests and an emerging public discussion about policing in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. Watching a police officer callously assault and eventually kill a man while being filmed has led to a sea change (though still severely limited) in public acknowledgement and critique of poor police behavior. But watching the subsequent coverage of the police response to this critique (which has been to double down on their brutality) keeps bringing me back to Ed Forchion, whose post-release story (though not as tragic as George Floyd’s) highlights the depths of the systemic problems of modern policing.
Editor’s Note: Today’s post comes from contributing editor Bob Beach. Beach is a Ph.D. candidate in history at the University of Albany, SUNY.
On January 27, a 20-year old Spencer Alan Boston walked into a Wilson County, Tennessee General Sessions court, to discuss sentencing on a simple marijuana possession charge. Tennessee law penalizes possession of less than a half-ounce of marijuana as a misdemeanor, subject to as much as a year sentence. But instead of discussing his case, Boston started to make an argument in favor of legalizing marijuana in the state as he reached into his pocket, pulled out a joint, and lit it up.