Anthony L. Fisher on Sex, Spice, and Small-Town Texas Justice


Reason TV

On the morning of May 7, a law enforcement team headed by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) broke down the door of The Purple Zone, a smoke shop in the small, rural community of Alpine, Texas, owned by 29-year-old Ilana Lipsen. With their weapons drawn, officers pointed the security cameras at the wall and tore apart the store. Lipsen's sister, Arielle, who happened to be on the premises, was pinned to the ground by the butt of one agent's rifle, according to witnesses. Next, DEA officers raided a nearby apartment also owned by Lipsen. When her tenant, Nicholas Branson, asked to see a search warrant (which they didn't have), a gun-wielding agent reportedly replied, "What are you, a fucking lawyer?" No illegal substances turned up at either the store or the apartment. The story, writes Anthony L. Fisher in the January issue of Reason, hits a number of libertarian outrage buttons: militarized police raids, an abusive prosecutor, disturbingly subjective drug laws, First Amendment violations and intimidation of journalists.