Skip to main content

Memphis TN - At approximately 9:15 pm on Saturday, August 1st, Officer Sean Bolton, 33, pulled up in front of a vehicle that was allegedly illegally parked in the Parkway Village neighborhood of Memphis.

Officer Bolton approached the vehicle and is believed to have interrupted a sale of a small amount (1.7 grams) of Cannabis. When Officer Bolton attempted to use force against the vehicles' occupants, a struggle ensued, and Officer Bolton was shot by Tremaine Wilbourne, 29.

As expected the community immediately expressed outrage over a police officer being killed and a manhunt ensued. During a press conference the following evening, Memphis Police director Toney Armstrong said, "I think it's safe to say that when you look at this individual, you're looking at a coward. He's a coward. You gun down, you murder a police officer for less than two grams of marijuana. You've literally destroyed a family. Look at the impact that that's had on this department, this community, this city, for less than two grams of marijuana."

Wilbourne has since turned himself into police stating "I am not a coward."

This unfortunate incident is yet another example of senseless violence caused by the failed war on drugs. Officer Bolton would no doubt be home with his family had he not attempted to extort money and kidnap a person for the sale of a plant.

From the perspective of most Americans, Bolton was killed while enforcing the law, and they are correct. The public sees that Bolton was "just doing his job" and he was killed in this process. However, if consideration is given to the morality of "the law" being enforced by Officer Bolton, an entirely different perspective is born.

The fact that a human life was ended over a plant that is proven to have saved lives and is 100% legal in other states, is nothing short of a sad irony. This country is only 80 years removed from alcohol prohibition, which led to a staggering increase in organized crime and unspeakable violence. Have we learned nothing?

Scroll to Continue

Recommended for You

To some individuals, Wilbourne may be seen as nothing more than a cop killer, who will be judged for previous actions that bear no significance on the events of the evening in question.

However, some people, including the spouse of a murdered police officer, are starting to see thing differently. As the Free Thought Project previously reported, Dionne Wilson, the widow of San Leandro police officer Nels “Dan” Niemi, has become an outspoken advocate for the reform of drug prohibition laws.

At at the Fair Justice Summit in Washington D.C. last month, Wilson stated very poignantly “I was really wrong about how our system works.”

When her husband was first killed, Wilson wondered how it was possible that a criminal, like the man who murdered her him, could be free. However, now she sees it from an entirely different perspective. Wilson now questions why he ever went in to prison in the first place.

"I can't help but think how my life would be different, and my children's lives would be different... had we passed Proposition 47 years before," she said.

Proposition 47 was one of the most damning blows to the state's immoral war on drugs which reduced, across the board, the classification of most "nonserious and nonviolent property and drug crimes" from a felony to a misdemeanor. California became the first state in the country to stop kidnapping people for possessing arbitrary substances.

Ms. Wilson is by no means alone in her pursuits as victims' families and other advocates have produced a groundswell of support for the reformation or repeal of drug laws all across the country.

This movement, coupled with ever increasing knowledge about substances that have for years been deemed harmful or immoral by the government, is responsible for many of the legalization and decriminalization initiatives we are seeing in states across the union. One can only hope that these laws are done away with before another life is taken prematurely, and another family and community is left to grieve for a fallen loved one.