Episode 24: If It Wasn’t Drugs It Would Be Something Else

Desmond Cole in Toronto. (Photo: Allie Graham)

On Episode 24, Garth talks with the best-selling writer and activist Desmond Cole about how police use Canada’s drug war as a pretext for violence against Black communities. Garth and Desmond also discuss the relationship between the movement to decriminalize drugs and the movement to defund and abolish the police.

A full transcript of this episode will be available here soon. 

Further Reading and Listening

Check out Desmond Cole’s book The Skin We’re In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power

Desmond also discusses Robyn Maynard’s work in this episode. You can check out her book Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present here. 

You can hear Frontburner’s interview with investigative journalist Judy Trinh about the police killing of Anthony Aust here. 

Also check out the CBC Database of use of Deadly Force in Canada 2007-1017.

Thanks to Allie Graham for recording Desmond Cole in Toronto. Allie works on the podcast We Are Not the Virus, which you can listen to here

Today’s episode also included a clip from the YouTube interview show, Midas Letter. Midas Letter’s full interview with Julian Fantino is here.

Calls To Action

Support Malton People’s Movement against police brutality, Defund 604 Network in Vancouver, and Black Lives Matter Canada

Works Cited

Benson Bruce L., David W. Rasmussen and David L. Sollars. 1995. Police Bureaucracies, Their Incentives, and the War on Drugs. Public Choice 83 (1/2): 21-45. 

Chunn, Dorothy and Gavigan. 2004. “Welfare Law, Welfare Fraud, and the Moral Regulation of the ‘Never Deserving’ Poor.” Social & Legal Studies 13 (2).

Cole, Desmond. The Skin We’re In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power. Toronto, Canada: Doubleday Canada, 2020. 

Gaetz. 2010. “The Struggle to End Homelessness in Canada: How We Created the Crisis, and How We Can End It.Open Health Services and Policy Journal 3: 21-6.

O’Grady, Gaetz and Buccieri. 2013. “Tickets… and More Tickets: A Case Study of the Enforcement of the Ontario Safe Streets Act.” Canadian Public Policy 39 (4): 541-558


Crackdown is produced on Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh territory. 

You can donate to Crackdown at patreon.com/crackdownpod

Follow Crackdown and Garth Mullins on Twitter to get updates about the show. 

Crackdown’s editorial board is Samona Marsh, Shelda Kastor, Greg Fess, Jeff Louden, Dean Wilson, Laura Shaver, Reija Jean, Rest in Peace Dave Murray and Chereece Keewatin.

Today’s episode was conceptualized, written, and produced by Sam Fenn, Lisa Hale, Alex Kim, Ryan McNeil, and Garth Mullins. 

Original score for today’s episode was written and performed by James Ash, Sam Fenn, Kai Paulson and Garth Mullins.  

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