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Hamsterdam:
A Case of Necessary Radicalism
By
Laura Spurney
mean, you call something a war and pretty
soon, everybody is gonna be running around
acting like soldiers” (3.10). As Major Howard
“Bunny” Colvin expresses this sentiment during
Season Three of The Wire, the war on drugs continues
to pervade the lives of both the police officers and the
criminals. In an effort to step outside of the perpetual
cycle of the “good guys chasing bad guys,” Colvin
creates the Hamsterdam project, a social experiment
in which he legalizes drugs in a vacant area of the
Western District of Baltimore. Through the radicalism
of Hamsterdam, Colvin hopes to create positive
change in the only way he sees possible amidst a
broken system. By setting aside three, contained “free
zones,” known as Hamsterdam, where drugs can be
bought and sold without penalty so long as there is not
violence, Colvin contains the drug trade. The
concentration of buyers and sellers enables a public
health solution, as opposed to a perpetual series of
arrests, the method typically supported by those in
authority as a temporary and ineffective solution to the
drug violence (McMillan 58). Although Hamsterdam
benefits many facets of society, the radical nature of
this initiative and the unintended consequences of its
outcomes lead political leaders to reject the idea
entirely not because there are not some benefits but
“I
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