Reading The Road Map To A Police State

Zero Hedge
by Aaron Tao

police state usa

There is no crueler tyranny than that which is perpetuated under the shield of law and in the name of justice.” —Charles de Montesquieu

If there was any silver lining to the horrifying events that took place in Ferguson, Missouri which riled the month of August, it has finally brought the issue of police militarization to the forefront. As outrageous as the police shooting death of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown was, the brutal law enforcement response in the form of running roughshod over the First Amendment and resorting to quasi-martial law to mostly peaceful protests by local residents and activists was worse. To many observers, what took place in a Midwest suburb was indistinguishable from scenes out of occupied Iraq.

How did this happen? For an answer, the writings of investigative journalist Radley Balko are an invaluable resource. Perhaps more than any other person, Balko has reported substantially on police militarization and injustice across the country for years.

The full details can be found in his book Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces . This important book, which was recently released in its paperback edition, could not have arrived at a better time. Despite going into an intellectually rigorous analysis of law, politics, and history, Balko has a gift for storytelling, which highlights many heartbreaking stories and makes Rise of the Warrior Cop an accessible and gripping read.

In the introduction, Balko begins with the provocative question:

How did we evolve from a country whose founding statesmen were adamant about the dangers of armed, standing government forces — a country that enshrined the Fourth Amendment in the Bill of Rights and revered and protected the age-old notion that the home is a place of privacy and sanctuary — to a country where it has become acceptable for armed government agents dressed in battle garb to storm private homes in the middle of the night — not to apprehend violent fugitives or thwart terrorist attacks, but to enforce laws against nonviolent, consensual activities?

In the first chapter, Balko traces classical history and its lessons on America’s Founders as well their own experiences under British rule. As students of the Enlightenment, they were familiar with how the Roman Republic was overthrown by ambitious military leaders and how the Praetorian Guard in the Empire era, which not only acted as bodyguards for the emperor but also took on many policing roles as well, was responsible for much political intrigue and instability. In the lead-up to the American Revolution, British authorities used the hated writs of assistance to enforce tax laws and to crackdown on contraband in the colonies. This type of general warrant allowed for authorities to “search broad groups of people, for evidence of any number of crimes, sometimes over long stretches of time.” As bad as they were, Balko noted that in contrast to what police can do today, the writs of assistance could not be exercised at night and they required a knock-and-announcement before entry into a private home. Finally, it was the deployment of British soldiers to enforce the law that brought long-simmering tensions to a boil. After the Revolutionary War, with these abuses still fresh on their minds, the Founders framed and ratified a Constitution with a Bill of Rights.

The Fourth Amendment, in particular, was written explicitly to prohibit general warrants and to reinforce the Castle Doctrine, an even older principle carried over from the British common law that can be traced back to antiquity. The Castle Doctrine simply reinforces the timeless idea that “a man’s home is his castle.” As explained by Balko:

Implicit in the sentiment is not only the right to repel criminal intruders but also the idea that the state is permitted to violate the home’s sanctity only under limited circumstances, only as a last resort, and only under conditions that protect the threshold from unnecessary violence. Thus, before entering without permission, government agents must knock, announce and identify themselves, state their purpose, and give the occupants the opportunity to let them in peacefully. … The announcement requirement under English law was not a formality, as it has become in police raids today. It was elemental. Its purpose was to give the homeowner the opportunity to avoid violence, distress, and the destruction of his property.

Balko also goes into interesting detail regarding the Third Amendment, the “runt piglet of the Bill of Rights,” which contains the seemingly antiquated provision that prohibits the quartering of soldiers in private homes. The case law pertaining to the amendment is scant but Balko asks us to consider why the Founders placed such an importance on it. Read in light of the Castle Doctrine, it makes sense that those who revere the principle that “a man’s home is his castle” would not tolerate their homes being occupied by soldiers. But most importantly, “the amendment was a placeholder for the broader aversion to a standing army. … It represented a long-standing, deeply ingrained resistance to armies patrolling American streets and policing American communities.”

Until the Civil War and Reconstruction, active duty troops were rarely if ever used for domestic law enforcement. In the early American republic, law enforcement was left mostly in private hands. Close-knit communities with shared values relied mostly on social stigma and shaming to maintain order. Professional full-time prosecutors didn’t exist, and it fell upon crime victims themselves to initiate the charges before a grand jury, a panel of private citizens who had the power to indict. The citizen militia was called out for only the worst cases that required force. But as urbanization advanced and an increasingly diverse population grew, it brought the need for changes.

One particularly interesting historical fact noted by Balko is that after the fall of Rome, centralized metropolitan police forces were not to be formed for almost another two millennia. In places that developed strong civil liberties traditions such as England and the American republic, people remained suspicious of standing armies, martial law, and powerful executives. In the United States, the New York Police Department (NYPD) was not formed until 1845. Modeled after London’s famous “bobbies,” political leaders had to wage major public relations campaigns to win over the trust of citizens. Major efforts were taken to distinguish the police from soldiers, and to ensure they were responsive to elected officials and the public. But in many jurisdictions, the police became a little too responsive to politicians, acted as corrupt henchmen for anyone who won office, and oppressed minorities and outsiders. The issue of police corruption was serious enough that it became a plank in the progressive movement by the early twentieth century. Reformers introduced the concept of professionalism which “transformed the job of police officer from a perk of patronage to a formal profession with its own standards, specialized knowledge, and higher personnel standards and entry requirements.” Although it helped address the problem of corruption, this new policy began to subtly separate the police from the communities they supposedly served and protected.

The meat of Balko’s story focusing on police militarization began in the 1960s. During this time, the civil rights, antiwar, and counterculture movements became very active while the overall crime rates soared. As the liberal Warren Court expanded the rights of the accused in a number of notable rulings, the law-and-order types became greatly alarmed that society was falling apart. As his critics on the right continued their attacks that he was “soft” on crime, President Lyndon B. Johnson oversaw the creation of two government institutions to fight crime that would have huge future ramifications:

  1. the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD), which eventually would become the modern Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the leading government agency fighting the War on Drugs.
  2. the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA), to “stream the federal funding, equipment, and technology to state and local law enforcement agencies.”

This would go on to set a large precedent for future programs like Byrne grants and the Pentagon’s 1033 program as “Johnson’s successors would quickly discover that introducing a funding spigot like LEAA, then threatening to pull it away, was an effective way to persuade local police agencies to adopt their preferred polices.”

The modern War on Drugs would officially begin under President Richard Nixon after winning on a law-and-order campaign and appealing to the “Silent Majority.” The focus of the Nixon’s administration’s anticrime effort would be on drugs, which they thought was the common denominator among racial minorities, the counterculture, and the antiwar movement that alienated “ignored America.” The Nixonites pushed for massive funding for the BNDD and LEAA, demanded no-knock warrants for federal drug agents, and even temporarily shutdown the U.S-Mexican border in Operation Intercept. In 1969, the first SWAT raid was carried out in Los Angeles against the Black Panthers. Despite the raid being a disaster “practically, logistically, and tactically,” it was a major success in public relations and SWAT teams would spread to nearly every city in America in the following decades. Despite being originally designed for emergency situations where violence was needed to end violence such as bank robberies and hostage scenarios, mission creep was unavoidable and SWAT teams would go on to be used for everything from breaking up neighborhood poker games, enforcing underage drinking laws, and performing regulatory inspections, as meticulously documented by Balko. Fast forward to modern day, it is now estimated that SWAT raids occur up to 40,000 times per year across the United States.

This can be traced back to the Reagan administration when SWAT tactics began to be increasingly used in fighting the drug war. Hardliners in his administration saw a “biblical struggle between good and evil, and in the process turn[ed] the country’s drug cops into holy soldiers.” Noting the inconsistent reverence supposed limited government conservatives have for Reagan, Balko had this to say:

Conservatives had always held the somewhat contradictory position that government can’t be trusted in any area of society except when it comes to the power to arrest, detain, imprison, and execute people. But Reagan didn’t dance around the contradiction, he embraced it. He blamed crime on big government — and in the same breath demanded that the government be given significantly more power to fight it.

Under Reagan, the FBI was brought into enforcing drug laws, health professionals who favored treatment for drug abusers were purged from the bureaucracy, and sweeping new policies such as civil asset forfeiture (the legal theory that property itself can be guilty of a crime and be seized without the owner even being charged) were embraced. Perhaps the most radical action was that Reagan sought to amend the Posse Comitatus Act and bring the military into the Drug War.

Balko notes that:

By the end of the 1980s, joint task forces brought together police officers and soldiers for drug interdiction. National Guard helicopters and U-2 spy planes flew the California skies in search of marijuana plants. When suspects were identified, battle-clad troops from the National Guard, the DEA and other federal and local law enforcement agencies would swoop in to eradicate the plants and capture the people growing them.

After Reagan was succeeded by Vice President George H.W. Bush, the same course continued. Bush Sr. appointed hardliner Bill Bennnet (who once called for beheading drug dealers on Larry King live and even “urged children to turn in their friends who used drugs to the police”) as drug czar and ramped up rhetoric that the drug war was a moral crusade between good and evil. Drug treatment programs were stripped of funding, while additional cash flowed into law enforcement and new prison construction. Perhaps the most significant were the Byrne grants that were created in a 1988 crime bill which would send billions in federal cash to police departments over the next twenty-five years and allow “the White House another way to impose its crime policy on local law enforcement.” But in Balko’s view, the program’s most harmful legacy was the “creation of hundreds of regional and multijurisdictional narcotics task forces” that were often unaccountable and financially rewarded for making many busts in the following decades.

Reformers and activists hoped the election of Bill Clinton would bring changes to the War on Drugs but sadly, that would not be the case. Instead, Clinton “encouraged paramilitary raids against low-level offenders — even users” and cracked down hard on medical marijuana facilities in order to send a political message despite legalization in a number of states. In addition, the Bryne grants picked up steam as they incentivized “police departments across the country to prioritize drug crimes over other investigations.” Perversely, the funds were awarded based on the “number of overall arrests, the number of warrants served, or the number of drug seizures.” As a result, actually reducing crime was not favored and instead, grants were given to police departments that were making lots of seizures regardless of size and easy arrests (e.g., low level drug offenders).

During this time, the Supreme Court continued to whittle away the Fourth Amendment and further militarization was promoted through the creation of infamous 1033 program as relationships between the federal government and local police departments deepened. High-profile tragedies in the 1990s involving heavily militarized law enforcement such as Ruby Ridge and the Waco Siege served mostly as partisan fodder as the right temporarily became critics only to fall silent when George W. Bush became President.

Bush Jr. followed the moral crusade script and continued the paramilitary raids against medical marijuana facilities and patients despite some initial lip service to federalism. After the September 11th terrorist attacks, drug warriors did not fail to waste a good crisis and used the opportunity to attempt to link the new fear of terrorism to drug use. In addition, the new War on Terror created another “ratchet effect” that ballooned an already-growing National Security State and furthered militarized the police. Thanks to generous anti-terrorism grants from the Department of Homeland Security which dwarfed even the 1033 program, police departments across the country upgraded their arsenals with automatic weapons, drones, armored vehicles, and other military equipment. But since terrorist attacks are incredibly rare, police used their new gear for drug raids instead. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court continued its siege on the Castle Doctrine and the Fourth Amendment with its decisions in United States v. Banks and Hudson v. Michigan.

Many people desiring “hope and change” put their faith in Barack Obama for a drug war détente and an overall repudiation of the Bush policies, but as with what happened with Clinton, they were in for a very bitter disappointment. Obama expanded the trend of police militarization by pouring a record $2 billion into the Byrne grants. This was part of his 2009 economic stimulus package, overseeing “more federal raids on marijuana dispensaries in four years than George W. Bush had presided in over eight,” promoting greater forfeiture takings by the Justice Department, and continuing to give away hundreds of millions in federal surplus military equipment to local and state police departments.

Near the end of the book, Balko offers a number of proposed reforms to rollback police militarization and restore the workings of a free society. These ideas include the practical as well as politically unattainable, but at very least, provide a working road map:

  1. Scaling back and ending the War on Drugs.
  2. Halting SWAT mission creep such as prohibiting their use by regulatory agencies.
  3. Increasing transparency such as detailed warrant tracking and requiring the use of body cameras on raids where the videos could then be made public upon request.
  4. Embracing authentic community policing by “taking cops out of patrol cars to walk beats and become a part of the communities they serve” to rebuild trust among the people they serve.
  5. Changing police culture by moving away from “us versus them” combat mindset and toward emphasizing counseling and dispute resolutions for resolving conflict in routine problems.
  6. Increasing accountability and ensuring police are not above the law by imposing stronger liability on officers who make egregious errors (this proposal would most likely be fought tooth-and-nail by police unions).

Even as more people awaken to the realities of a growing police state, the challenges to restoring a free society are vast and likely to be resisted every inch of the way by entrenched interests. As Abigail Hall and Christopher Coyne pointed out in their political-economic analysis of police militarization in the Spring 2013 issue of The Independent Review:

Government agencies’ inherent tendency is to expand beyond their designers’ initial aims and goals. Special-interest groups exacerbate this problem by seeking to expand their power and influence. The onset of crises — whether real or manufactured — begins a long, far-reaching process that erodes the already imperfect constraints on the government’s power … citizens must become skeptical of the possibility of establishing permanent constraints on government power. This skepticism ultimately requires recognition and appreciation of the realities of government power and a rejection of government action as a solution to the perceived crises.

After reading through Rise of the Warrior Cop, if there be a single lesson we should grasp, it is that police militarization and the War on Drugs are intimately tied. The former cannot be reversed unless the latter is ended. Thanks to the War on Drugs, the Castle Doctrine crumbled, the United States ended up with the largest incarcerated population in world history, and the Officer Friendlies of yesteryear have been replaced by a de-facto standing army clothed like Darth Vader.

There is a wide range of opinions among commentators today on what extent the United States is becoming/is a police state. In Balko’s conclusion, “it would be foolish to wait until it becomes one to get concerned.” If you were at all disturbed by the events in Ferguson or wondering why your local police department has an armored vehicle with a belt-fed, turreted .50 caliber machine gun, you owe it to yourself to read this book.

Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces, by Radley Balko, PublicAffairs, 2013

Via Ludwig von Mises Institute

Obama Announces CDC SWAT Teams To Round Up Infected People

The Daily Sheeple

obama

President Obama, who has notably ignored our open Southern border, welcomed illegal aliens, and refused to institute a travel ban from Ebola-ridden countries, has a hardcore solution for Americans who are potentially suffering from Ebola. He’ll just increase the police state another notch.

“What I have directed the CDC to do is that as soon as somebody is diagnosed with Ebola then we want a rapid response team, a SWAT team essentially, from the CDC, to be on the ground as quickly as possible. Hopefully within 24 hours.”.

The Daily Sheeple

“Travelers, Say Bon Voyage To Privacy”

Papers Please

no fly list

We talked at length with Watchdog investigative reporter Dave Lieber for his column in today’s Dallas Morning News: Travelers, say bon voyage to privacy.

Lieber hits the nail on the head by calling out how few travelers realize that the U.S. government is keeping a permanent file of complete mirror copies of their reservations:

Did you know that when you buy an airline ticket and make other travel reservations, the government keeps a record of the details?

If airlines don’t comply, they can’t fly in the U.S., explains Ed Hasbrouck, a privacy expert with the Identity Project who has studied the records for years and is considered the nation’s top expert.

Before each trip, the system creates a travel score for you…. Before an airline can issue you a boarding pass, the system must approve your passage, Hasbrouck explains….

Want to appeal? “It’s a secret administrative process based on the score you don’t know, based on files you haven’t seen,” Hasbrouck says….

Hasbrouck says: “You can’t keep files on everybody in case you want some dirt on them. That’s what J. Edgar Hoover did. We’ve been through this before in this country. Think of all the ways those files targeted innocent people and were misused. People’s lives were destroyed on the basis of unfounded allegations.

“Do we want to go back to that?”

For those whose curiosity has been piqued, here are links to more about this issue:

The FAQ, What’s in a Passenger Name Record (PNR)?, includes links to examples of PNR data, templates to request your travel history and PNR files from DHS, and information about our lawsuit against DHS to try to find out what files it has about us and how it has used and “shared” them.

Requirements for airlines to send passenger data to the government, and receive individualized (per-passenger, per-flight) permission from the government before issuing a boarding pass, are contained in two separate sets of DHS regulations: Secure Flight for domestic flights and the Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) for international flights. (More about the APIS regulations.)

The system of “pre-crime” profiling and assigning scores to all air travelers was discussed in recent government audit reports and at a Congressional hearing last month, and in a front-page story in the New York Times, in which we were quoted, last year.

There’s a good overview of the government’s travel surveillance and control process in a talk by Edward Hasbrouck of the Identity Project that was broadcast on C-SPAN last year. The slides from that talk include diagrams of the system and examples of PNR data and other government files about travelers.

Papers Please

The High Cost of Living in a Police State: US Officers Shielded from Justice

Global Research
By John W. Whitehead

policestate

“It’s been over five months since the night a SWAT team broke into the house in which we were staying…We were staying with relatives and my whole family was sleeping in one room. My husband and I, our three daughters and our baby (nicknamed “Baby Bou Bou”) in his crib. Dressed like soldiers, they broke down the door. The SWAT officers tossed a flashbang grenade into the room. It landed in Baby Bou Bou’s crib, blowing a hole in his face and chest that took months to heal and covering his entire body with scars…

“Doctors tell us that my son will have to have double reconstructive surgeries twice a year, every year for the next 20 years… [I]n five short months our family has taken on nearly $900,000 in medical bills, some of which have now gone into collections… After initially offering to cover the medical expenses, the county has since refused to cover any of our medical costs, all of which would never have happened if the SWAT team hadn’t broken into the home.”—Alecia Phonesavanh

Who pays the price for the police shootings that leave unarmed citizens dead or injured, for the SWAT team raids that leave doors splintered, homes trashed, pets murdered, and family members traumatized and injured, if not dead?

I’m not just talking about the price that must be paid in hard-earned dollars, whether by taxpayers or the victims, in attempting to restore what was vandalized and broken by police. It’s also the things that can’t be so easily calculated to a decimal point: the broken bones that will never quite heal right, the children’s nightmares at night, the uneasy sleep, the broken family heirlooms, the loss of faith in a system that was supposed to serve and protect you, the grief for loved ones whose lives were cut short.

Baby Bou Bou may have survived the misdirected SWAT team raid that left him with a hole in his face and extensive scars on his body, but he will be the one to pay the price for the rest of his life for the SWAT team’s blunder in launching a flashbang grenade into his crib. And even though the SWAT team was wrong about the person they were after, even though they failed to find any drugs in the home they’d raided, and even though they may have regretted the fact that Baby Bou Bou got hurt, it will still be the Phonesavanh family who will pay and pay and pay for the endless surgeries every year to reconstruct their son’s face as he grows from toddler to boy to teenager to man. Already, they have racked up more than $900,000 in medical bills. Incredibly, government officials refused to cover the family’s medical expenses.

That is just one family’s experience, the price they must pay for living in a police state. Tally their pain, their loss and their medical bills, and add it to that of the hundreds of other families in cities and towns across the nation who are similarly reeling from the blows inflicted by the government’s standing armies, and you will find yourself reeling. For many of these individuals, there can never be any amount of reparation sufficient to make up for the lives lost or shattered.

As for those who do get “paid back,” at least in monetary terms for their heartache and loss, it’s the taxpayers who are footing the bill to the tune of millions of dollars. Incredibly, these cases hardly impact the police department’s budget. As journalist Aviva Shen points out, “individual officers are rarely held accountable for their abuses, either by the police department or in court… Internally, police departments rarely investigate complaints of misconduct, let alone punish the accused officers. Because cities insulate police officers and departments from the financial consequences for their actions, police on the street have little incentive to avoid unnecessary force, and their departments may not feel the need to crack down on repeat offenders. And so the bill for taxpayers keeps growing.”

For example, Baltimore taxpayers have paid roughly $5.7 million since 2011 over lawsuits stemming from police abuses, with an additional $5.8 million going towards legal fees. That’s money that could have been spent on a state-of-the-art recreation center or renovations at more than 30 playgrounds. As the Baltimore Sun reports: “Victims include a 15-year-old boy riding a dirt bike, a 26-year-old pregnant accountant who had witnessed a beating, a 50-year-old woman selling church raffle tickets, a 65-year-old church deacon rolling a cigarette and an 87-year-old grandmother aiding her wounded grandson… Officers have battered dozens of residents who suffered broken bones — jaws, noses, arms, legs, ankles — head trauma, organ failure, and even death, coming during questionable arrests. Some residents were beaten while handcuffed; others were thrown to the pavement.”

New York taxpayers have shelled out almost $1,130 per year per police officer (there are 34,500 officers in the NYPD) to address charges of misconduct. That translates to $38 million every year just to clean up after these so-called public servants. Over a 10-year-period, Oakland, Calif., taxpayers were made to cough up more than $57 million (curiously enough, the same amount as the city’s deficit back in 2011) in order to settle accounts with alleged victims of police abuse.

Chicago taxpayers were asked to pay out nearly $33 million on one day alone to victims of police misconduct, with one person slated to receive $22.5 million, potentially the largest single amount settled on any one victim. The City has paid more than half a billion dollars to victims over the course of a decade. The Chicago City Council actually had to borrow $100 million just to pay off lawsuits arising over police misconduct in 2013. The city’s payout for 2014 should be in the same ballpark, especially with cases pending such as the one involving the man who was reportedly sodomized by a police officer’s gun in order to force him to “cooperate.”

Over 78% of the funds paid out by Denver taxpayers over the course of a decade arose as a result of alleged abuse or excessive use of force by the Denver police and sheriff departments. Meanwhile, taxpayers in Ferguson, Missouri, are being asked to pay $40 million in compensation—more than the city’s entire budget—for police officers treating them “‘as if they were war combatants,’ using tactics like beating, rubber bullets, pepper spray, and stun grenades, while the plaintiffs were peacefully protesting, sitting in a McDonalds, and in one case walking down the street to visit relatives.”

That’s just a small sampling of the most egregious payouts, but just about every community—large and small—feels the pinch when it comes to compensating victims who have been subjected to deadly or excessive force by police. The ones who rarely ever feel the pinch are the officers accused or convicted of wrongdoing, “even if they are disciplined or terminated by their department, criminally prosecuted, or even imprisoned.”

Indeed, a study published in the NYU Law Review reveals that 99.8% of the monies paid in settlements and judgments in police misconduct cases never come out of the officers’ own pockets, even when state laws require them to be held liable. Moreover, these officers rarely ever have to pay for their own legal defense. As law professor Joanna C. Schwartz notes, police officers are more likely to be struck by lightning than be made financially liable for their actions.

Schwartz references a case in which three Denver police officers chased and then beat a 16-year-old boy, stomping “on the boy’s back while using a fence for leverage, breaking his ribs and causing him to suffer kidney damage and a lacerated liver.” The cost to Denver taxpayers to settle the lawsuit: $885,000. The amount the officers contributed: 0.

Kathryn Johnston, 92 years old, was shot and killed during a SWAT team raid that went awry. Attempting to cover their backs, the officers falsely claimed Johnston’s home was the site of a cocaine sale and went so far as to plant marijuana in the house to support their claim. The cost to Atlanta taxpayers to settle the lawsuit: $4.9 million. The amount the officers contributed: 0.

Meanwhile, in Albuquerque, a police officer was convicted of raping a woman in his police car, in addition to sexually assaulting four other women and girls, physically abusing two additional women, and kidnapping or falsely imprisoning five men and boys. The cost to the Albuquerque taxpayers to settle the lawsuit: $1,000,000. The amount the officer contributed: 0.

In its report on police brutality and accountability in the United States, Human Rights Watch notes that taxpayers actually pay three times for officers who repeatedly commit abuses: “once to cover their salaries while they commit abuses; next to pay settlements or civil jury awards against officers; and a third time through payments into police ‘defense’ funds provided by the cities.”

A large part of the problem can be chalked up to influential police unions and laws providing for qualified immunity, which invariably allow officers to walk away without paying a dime for their wrongdoing. Conveniently, those deciding whether a police officer should be immune from having to personally pay for misbehavior on the job all belong to the same system, all cronies with a vested interest in protecting the police and their infamous code of silence: city and county attorneys, police commissioners, city councils and judges.

In a nutshell, the U.S. Supreme Court’s reasoning when it comes to qualified immunity for government officials (not just police officers) is essentially that these officials might be too cautious in carrying out their duties if there was a risk that they might be held personally liable for wrongdoing on the job. Frankly, we’d be far better off if government officials operated under the constant fear that there would be ramifications for wrongdoing on the job. As it now stands, we’ve got way too many lawbreakers, scoundrels, cheats and thugs on the government’s payroll, (many of whom are actually elected to office).

So what’s the solution, if any, to a system so clearly rigged that it allows rogue cops who engage in excessive force to wreak havoc with no fear of financial consequences? As HRW concludes:

The excessive use of force by police officers, including unjustified shootings, severe beatings, fatal chokings, and rough treatment, persists because overwhelming barriers to accountability make it possible for officers who commit human rights violations to escape due punishment and often to repeat their offenses…. Officers with long records of abuse, policies that are overly vague, training that is substandard, and screening that is inadequate all create opportunities for abuse. Perhaps most important, and consistently lacking, is a system of oversight in which supervisors hold their charges accountable for mistreatment and are themselves reviewed and evaluated, in part, by how they deal with subordinate officers who commit human rights violations. Those who claim that each high-profile case of abuse by a “rogue” officer is an aberration are missing the point: problem officers frequently persist because the accountability systems are so seriously flawed.

Unfortunately, we’re so far gone as a nation in terms of cronyism, corruption and unequal justice that there’s little hope of reformation working from the top down. As I point out in A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, if any change is to be made, if any hope for accountability is to be realized it must begin, as always, at the local level, with local police departments and governing bodies, where the average citizen can still, with sufficient reinforcements, make his voice heard.

So the next time you hear of a police shooting in your town of an unarmed citizen, don’t just shrug helplessly and turn the page or switch the channel. Form a coalition of concerned citizens and call your prosecutor’s office, email the police department, speak out at your city council meeting, urge your local paper to cover the story from both sides, blog about it, stage a protest, demand transparency and accountability—whatever you do, make sure you send the message loud and clear that you do not want your taxpayer dollars supporting illegal and abusive behavior.

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead [send him mail] is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. He is the author of A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State and The Change Manifesto (Sourcebooks).

Global Research

Public Health Emergency Declared In Connecticut Over Ebola: Civil Rights Suspended Indefinitely

Zero Hedge

We warned a week ago of the various possibilities surrounding an Ebola outbreak in America, and today we get some degree of confirmation of a medical-based martial-law coming to the US. Governor Dan Malloy has declared a Public Health Emergency in Connecticut, authorizing the “isolation of any individual reasonably believed to have been exposed to the Ebola virus.” Simply put, as we noted previously, the State of Public Health Emergency allows bureaucrats to detain and force-vaccinate people without due process – despite not one single case being found in CT. If there is a major Ebola pandemic in America, all of the liberties and the freedoms that you currently enjoy would be gone.

 

The Public Health Emergency declaration…

 

“I hereby declare a public health emergency for the State, pursuant to the Connecticut General Statutes Section 19a-131a, for the duration of the epidemic. Specifically, in accordance with Connecticut General Statutes Section 19a-131b, I authorize the Commissioner of Public Health to Order the isolation or quarantine, under conditions prescribed by the Commissioner of Public Health, of any individual or group of individuals whom the Commissioner reasonably believes to have been exposed to, infected with, or otherwise at risk of passing the Ebola virus.”

Which he defended as a precautionary and preparatory measure in the event that the state has either a confirmed infection or has confirmed that someone at risk of developing the infection is residing in the state.

We are taking this action today to ensure that we are prepared, in advance, to deal with any identified cases in which someone has been exposed to the virus or, worst case, infected,” said Governor Malloy.  “Our state’s hospitals have been preparing for it, and public health officials from the state are working around the clock to monitor the situation.  Right now, we have no reason to think that anyone in the state is infected or at risk of infection.  But it is essential to be prepared and we need to have the authorities in place that will allow us to move quickly to protect public health, if and when that becomes necessary.  Signing this order will allow us to do that.”

Translated… as we previously noted:

If there is a major Ebola pandemic in America, all of the liberties and the freedoms that you currently enjoy would be gone.  If government officials believe that you have the virus, federal law allows them to round you up and detain you “for such time and in such manner as may be reasonably necessary.”  In addition, the CDC already has the authority to quarantine healthy Americans if they reasonably believe that they may become sick.  During an outbreak, the government can force you to remain isolated in your own home, or the government may forcibly take you to a treatment facility, a tent city, a sports stadium, an old military base or a camp.  You would not have any choice in the matter.  And you would be forced to endure any medical procedure mandated by the government.  That includes shots, vaccines and the drawing of blood.  During such a scenario, you can scream about your “rights” all that you want, but it won’t do any good.

In case you are tempted to think that I am making this up, I want you to read what federal law actually says.  The following is 42 U.S.C. 264(d).  I have added bold for emphasis…

(1) Regulations prescribed under this section may provide for the apprehension and examination of any individual reasonably believed to be infected with a communicable disease in a qualifying stage and (A) to be moving or about to move from a State to another State; or (B) to be a probable source of infection to individuals who, while infected with such disease in a qualifying stage, will be moving from a State to another State. Such regulations may provide that if upon examination any such individual is found to be infected, he may be detained for such time and in such manner as may be reasonably necessary. For purposes of this subsection, the term “State” includes, in addition to the several States, only the District of Columbia.

 

(2) For purposes of this subsection, the term “qualifying stage”, with respect to a communicable disease, means that such disease—

 

(A) is in a communicable stage; or

 

(B) is in a precommunicable stage, if the disease would be likely to cause a public health emergency if transmitted to other individuals.

In addition, as I discussed above, the CDC already has the authority to isolate people that are not sick to see if they do become sick.  The following is what the CDC website says about this…

Quarantine is used to separate and restrict the movement of well persons who may have been exposed to a communicable disease to see if they become ill. These people may have been exposed to a disease and do not know it, or they may have the disease but do not show symptoms. Quarantine can also help limit the spread of communicable disease.

*  *  *

And as Police State USA summarizes,

Governor Dannel Malloy has declared Connecticut to be in a state of public health emergency, enabling the indefinite suspension of certain civil rights. State bureaucrats have been granted the broad authority to forcibly detain suspected sick people without due process. The declaration came preemptively, as Connecticut has not yet seen a single case of the virus it purports to stop.

 

Rationalizing his actions, the governor said in a statement: “We need to have the authorities in place that will allow us to move quickly to protect public health, if and when that becomes necessary. Signing this order will allow us to do that.”

 

The recipient of most of the newly-imparted power is Jewel Mullen, Connecticut’s Commissioner of the Department of Public Health (DPH). By having this measure in place, Commissioner Mullen explained, “we don’t have to scramble in the event I need to take action.”

 

The actions that authorities might want to “scramble” to use is the forcible quarantine of citizens — without charges or trial.

 

Connecticut General Statutes Section 19a-131a spells out the powers that may be used during the state of public health emergency:

 

“[While] the emergency exists [the state] may do any of the following: (1) Order the commissioner to implement all or a portion of the public health emergency response plan developed pursuant to section 19a-131g; (2) authorize the commissioner to isolate or quarantine persons in accordance with section 19a-131b; (3) order the commissioner to vaccinate persons in accordance with section 19a-131e; or (4) apply for and receive federal assistance.”

 

As noted above, the Commissioner may issue an order of mass vaccination at his or her own discretion.

 

Section 19a-131d states that any individual who refuses to comply with any portion of the order may be punished with with fines and imprisonment for up to one (1) year.

 

Fending off a police state requires constant vigilance against efforts to desecrate civil liberties. As the current scenario has shown us, a climate of fear — fear of disease, terrorism, foreign threats, etc. — makes it all-too easy to suspend constitutional rights with minimal public resistance. Many people actually feel grateful to see the government absorbing greater powers; taken with the promises of keeping them safe.

 

The state of public health emergency will remain in effect indefinitely until lifted by the governor.

*  *  *

Welcome to the new normal American police state.

Zero Hedge

Borderline Insanity — Immigration Solutions Miss the Mark

The New American
by Kurt Hyde

The invasion by illegal immigrants has aroused the ire of the American people, and politicians are responding by doing what they do best: milking it for all the publicity they can get.

Some well-connected politicians have even ventured down to the U.S.-Mexican border for publicity photos as they ride in taxpayer-purchased patrol boats on the Rio Grande. As ineffective as these non-solutions have been in stopping illegal entry into the United States, the solutions that have been implemented under the aegis of increased border security have done additional damage to the constitutional rights of law-abiding American citizens.

In a constitutional republic, an increase in border security should result in, at most, only minor inconveniences to the law-abiding citizens. For many years the United States and Canada proudly boasted of having the longest unguarded border anywhere in the world. The only requirement for U.S. citizens reentering the United States from Canada was to answer the question of where they were born. There wasn’t even a requirement to show an identification card. Embarrassing to statists is the fact that illegal immigration problems were miniscule compared to what we have now.

Current procedures for American citizens to reenter the United States require a passport in a manner similar to a national ID card. But this infringement is mild compared to other police-state requirements that have been implemented under the banner of border security, such as checkpoints on roads well inside the borders. KCCI Television in Des Moines, Iowa, reported that a group of Iowa Boy Scouts was detained for four hours after one of them took a picture of a Border Patrolman.

Whatever happened to the basic freedom of every American to photograph anything that’s outdoors in public view? What about the 14th Amendment right of equal protection under the law? Why should a troop of Boy Scouts face a four-hour detainment because one of them took a photo at a border while politically connected politicians flock to the borders to pose for photos that help them in their political campaigns?

Successful Operations in the Past

One of the best-kept secrets in America is that the United States waged a successful campaign against illegal immigrants in 1954. It was accomplished without imposing police-state measures on innocent American citizens. Under the direction of retired Lt. General Joseph “Jumpin’ Joe” Swing, Operation Wetback became successful as soon as the illegal immigrants realized that American Border Patrol agents meant business. As reported in The New American online for July 13, 2010:

On D-day, June 17, 1954, Swing sent 750 of his Border Patrol agents into the field to begin a sweep through Arizona and California. Within a month, Jumpin’ Joe’s boys had taken more than 50,000 illegal aliens into custody — and half a million more, fearing arrest, had self-deported.

For every illegal immigrant deported by the U.S. government, ten more self-deported within the first month. But we can do better today because we have technology to assist us in making deportations stick. If, for example, we passed a law stating that those who self-deport must state their intentions to do so, give their intended date (no more than 60 days after declaring their intentions) and have their fingerprints and facial features scanned, they will be on a list of those who self-deported and will be allowed to enter this country again in a legal manner. Those who have to be forcibly deported will also have their fingerprints and facial features scanned,  but they will be on a list of those who were deported involuntarily and will be banned for life from re-entering this country.

Another reason Operation Wetback was successful is because the deportees weren’t just dropped off at the border. Lt. General Swing made certain they were taken far enough into Mexico to discourage them from trying again. Again from The New American:

Those taken into custody by the Border Patrol — about 1,100 a day after big numbers during the first week — were transported across the border in trucks and buses and then put on trains bound for Durango. The United States wanted the illegal aliens shipped deep into Mexico to discourage re-entry. They were also taken to Port Isabel, Texas, and put aboard ships such as Emancipation, which then sailed them to Veracruz, 500 miles to the south. Transportation by sea continued until seven illegal aliens jumped off Mercurio in an escape attempt and drowned. Since the United States depended upon the cooperation of the Mexican government in sending illegal aliens deep into Mexico’s interior, protests from Mexico over the drownings caused the United States to end waterborne deportations.

The seven drownings in 1954 should no longer be an excuse for not deporting illegal immigrants. The National Foundation for American Policy reported in 2010 that 4,375 people are known to have died during attempts to enter this country illegally between 1998 and 2009. Those are just the official totals. The real totals are certainly much greater. That any should die while being deported, even seven, is certainly a concern. But when thousands die entering the country illegally, that’s worse.

Turn Off The Magnets That Reward Illegal Entry

The illegal immigrants cross the border because there is a prize for successfully completing the obstacle course. Once inside the country, there is a virtual smorgasbord of benefits supplied by government agencies, some federal, some state or local. Free healthcare, free or reduced cost housing, and SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) top the list. Most states give in-state discounts on college tuition to illegal immigrants. The greatest prize of all is amnesty coupled with a pathway to U.S. citizenship.

The illegal immigrants aren’t the only scofflaws when it comes to the government benefits that encourage illegal entry. Government employees are disobeying laws too, but the laws aren’t being enforced on them. The recent indictment of Texas Governor Rick Perry on charges of misusing taxpayers’ resources highlights the existence of a Texas law that requires such accountability by the people who are elected, appointed, or hired to administer government programs. All states have similar laws, as well as laws against concealing known fugitives from law-enforcement agencies.

Why are the following state laws not being enforced on those who administer state or local taxpayer resources to feed, house, or transport illegal immigrants or conceal them from law enforcement: 1) Misappropriation of taxpayer resources; 2) Harboring fugitives; and 3) Obstruction of justice?

The illegal immigrants have to pay money to coyotes to smuggle them into the United States. They wouldn’t pay the money and take the risks if the prize wasn’t worth it to them. The way the game is played today, once they cross the goal line they’re rewarded. When Lt. General Swing was in charge, once they crossed the goal line their reward was the risk of being caught and deported. If we add to that the penalty of being banned for life from re-entry, we won’t need a fence on the border. In fact, we wouldn’t want one. It would get in the way the self-deportees as they race back to where they came from.

Double Standard on Child Protective Services

Why aren’t the parents of the illegal immigrant minors being subjected to the same scrutiny that American citizen parents are? A recent post on Breitbart.com related the story of a Texas mother’s encounter with the police.

Why aren’t the parents of the recent influx of illegal-immigrant minors facing prosecutions for child abandonment? Even if the initial act of abandonment was in a foreign country, once the children reached the U.S. border the continuing act of abandonment became a U.S. affair. Additionally, the parents’ names should be on a list of persons who will not be allowed in this country in the future. Instead, these parents are being positioned to be rewarded with anchor-baby paths to U.S. citizenship. Such incentives will encourage more parents in foreign countries to place their children at risk for coyotes to smuggle them into the United States.

Double Standard on Sexual Activities With Minors

Many of the young girls who join the immigration invasion are prepared in advance by their mothers with birth control pills. That’s because of the high probability that these girls will be victims of forced sexual activity while being smuggled into the United States. Their mothers also prepare them psychologically for the risk of being forced to perform other forms of sexual activity that, although they won’t result in pregnancy, can leave emotional scars on the young girls. With preparations as extensive as this, how can anyone say this endangerment is not premeditated? Why aren’t the parents of these under-age girls being held accountable for knowingly placing their daughters in the presence of sexual predators?

Why aren’t the molesters, rapists, and accomplices being indicted for their sexual crimes when these crimes are committed in the United States during smuggling of illegal immigrants? Their names should be on the list of registered sex offenders, and they should be wearing ankle bracelets.

The New American has contacted the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services regarding child abandonment and sexual crimes against minors as they are being smuggled into this country. As of press time for this article, they have not yet responded.

Border Security: A Dog-and-pony Show?

Addressing the illegal immigrant problem solely as a border protection issue is a defense-only strategy and is destined to lose. That’s bad enough. But how well are we playing defense? Brandon Darby, Managing Director of Breitbart, Texas, spoke at the Frisco Tea Party in Frisco, Texas, on September 8 of this year. He described the current defense of the border as “a dog and pony show.” Darby explained how he went to Laredo one Friday night with his film crew and saw very little evidence of border security. The following weekend, Jorge Ramos from Unavision was in Laredo on an announced visit. Darby explained:

The next Friday night I was on a border tour and Jorge Ramos came, announced, from Univision…. They had boats out. They had border patrol agents on horses and on all kinds of weird vehicles I’ve never seen. They had some helicopters searching with lights.

That wasn’t there the week before. So it’s a dog and pony show.

Darby also criticized the lack of coverage for whole sections of the border. Darby continued:

We’re sending people to 25.6 per cent of the border…. When you go to the Rio Grande Valley Sector all the way from Boca Chica all the way to Zapata it looks good.… Half way through the town of Zapata by the Falcon Reservoir there’s no more DPS. There’s no more state troopers.

Darby also explained that when he drives from Lubbock, Texas, to Sweetwater, a distance of about 123 miles, he routinely sees about five or six state troopers. But when he drives between the Texas border towns of Zapata and Laredo he usually doesn’t see even one.

It’s Not Just a Border Problem — It’s an Illegal Immigrant Invasion

The millions of illegal immigrants inside our borders present a number of threats to our country. Some are gang members. Some are terrorists. Some are bringing infectious diseases with them. Many of them have become a burden on government-funded services and are now depriving the American citizens who paid for these services. In some states, such as Texas, the drain on the state budget has caused many planned roads or expansions of existing roads to be changed to toll roads or they won’t be built.

One aspect of this invasion that is rarely discussed in the liberal press is the political. Many illegal immigrantshave no concept of freedom. They come from police states. They have no understanding of the free-enterprise system and think government regulators are the best way to do business. If they are granted amnesty they will become voters who will vote for more government and less freedom. They are highly likely to vote for politicians who want to form a North American Union of Canada, Mexico, and the United States. If there is an amnesty for illegal immigrants, it will likely include family members living outside the United States. That would open the floodgates for new voters, the vast majority of whom would vote for more government and less freedom.

Politicians need to be reminded that this is an illegal immigrant invasion, and not just a border problem. Politicians like to use the phrase “border security” as they misdirect conversations from the real problem of immigration invasion and box-in the discussion to increasing border security. Implementing police-state procedures on U.S. citizens at or near the border while encouraging illegal immigrants by rewarding them with government benefits will not solve the problem.

If that isn’t insanity, what is?

The New American

Should We Just Follow Orders? Rules of Engagement for Resisting the Police State

The Rutherford Institute
By John W. Whitehead

american police state

“Let your motto be resistance! resistance! Resistance! No oppressed people have ever secured their liberty without resistance.”—Abolitionist Henry Highland Garnet

The perils of resisting the police state grow more costly with each passing day, especially if you hope to escape with your life and property intact. The thing you must remember is that we’ve entered an age of militarized police in which we’re no longer viewed as civilians but as enemy combatants.

Take, for example, Mary Elizabeth VandenBerg who was charged with disturbing the peace, a crime punishable by up to 93 days in jail and a $500 fine, for daring to vocalize her frustrations over a traffic ticket by reading a prepared statement to the court clerk and paying her $145 traffic ticket with 145 one-dollar bills. VandenBerg was also handcuffed, tasered and pepper sprayed for “passively” resisting police by repeatedly stopping and talking to them and stiffening her arms. The incident, filmed by VandenBerg’s brother, is now the subject of a lawsuit.

Zachary Noel was tasered by police and charged with resisting arrest after he questioned why he was being ordered out of his truck during a traffic stop. “Because I’m telling you to,” the officer replied before repeating his order for Noel to get out of the vehicle and then, without warning, shooting him with a taser through the open window. The encounter, recorded with a cell phone by Noel’s friend in the passenger seat, offers a particularly chilling affirmation of how little recourse Americans really have when it comes to obeying an order from a government official or police officer, even if it’s just to ask a question or assert one’s rights.

Eighteen-year-old Keivon Young was shot seven times by police from behind while urinating outdoors. Young was just zipping up his pants when he heard a commotion behind him and then found himself struck by a hail of bullets from two undercover cops. Despite the fact that the officers mistook Young—5’4,” 135 lbs., and guilty of nothing more than taking a leak outdoors—for a 6’ tall, 200 lb. murder suspect whom they later apprehended, the young man was charged with felony resisting arrest and two counts of assaulting a peace officer.

What these incidents make clear is that anything short of compliance will now get you charged with any of the growing number of contempt charges (ranging from resisting arrest and interference to disorderly conduct, obstruction, and failure to obey a police order) that get trotted out anytime a citizen voices discontent with the government or challenges or even questions the authority of the powers that be—and that’s the best case scenario. The worst case scenario involves getting probed, poked, pinched, tasered, tackled, searched, seized, stripped, manhandled, arrested, shot, or killed.

So what can you really do when you find yourself at the mercy of law enforcement officers who have almost absolute discretion to decide who is a threat, what constitutes resistance, and how harshly they can deal with the citizens they were appointed to “serve and protect”? In other words, what are the rules of engagement when it comes to interacting with the police?

If you want to play it safe, comply and do whatever a police officer tells you to do. Don’t talk back. Don’t threaten. And don’t walk away. In other words, don’t do anything that even hints at resistance.

Keep in mind, however, that this is not a fail-safe plan, especially not in an age where police officers tend to shoot first and ask questions later, oftentimes based only on their highly subjective “feeling” of being threatened, and are reprimanded with little more than a slap on the wrist. Indeed, the news is riddled with reports of individuals who didn’t resist when confronted by police and still got tasered, tackled or shot simply because they looked at police in a threatening manner or moved in a way that made an officer fear for his safety.

For example, Levar Edward Jones was shot by a South Carolina police officer during a routine traffic stop over a seatbelt violation as he was in the process of reaching for his license and registration. The trooper justified his shooting of the unarmed man by insisting that Jones reached for his license “aggressively.”

If compliance isn’t quite your cup of tea—and we’d be far better off as a nation if we were far less compliant—then you’ve got a few more options ranging from legal-but-sure-to-annoy-an-officer to legal-but-it-could-get-you-arrested to legal-but-it-could-get-you-shot.

If this is war—and a good case could be made for the fact that the government is indeed waging a war on the American citizenry—then the tactics I’m about to outline could be considered nonviolent guerilla warfare, using whatever strategic, legal, creative and nonviolent means are available in order to outmaneuver an opponent—in our case, the American police force—whose language is the language of force.

To begin with, and most importantly, Americans need to know their rights when it comes to interactions with the police, bearing in mind that many law enforcement officials are largely ignorant of the law themselves. In a nutshell, here are your basic rights when it comes to interactions with the police as outlined in the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution:

You have the right under the First Amendment to ask questions and express yourself. You have the right under the Fourth Amendment to not have your person or your property searched by police or any government agent unless they have a search warrant authorizing them to do so.  You have the right under the Fifth Amendment to remain silent and not incriminate yourself.

You have the right under the Sixth Amendment to request an attorney. Depending on which state you live in and whether your encounter with police is consensual as opposed to your being temporarily detained or arrested, you may have the right to refuse to identify yourself. Presently, 26 states do not require citizens to show their ID to an officer (drivers in all states must do so, however).

Knowing your rights is only part of the battle, unfortunately. The hard part comes in when you have to exercise those rights in order to hold government officials accountable to respecting those rights.

As a rule of thumb, you should always be sure to clarify in any police encounter whether or not you are being detained, i.e., whether you have the right to walk away. That holds true whether it’s a casual “show your ID” request on a boardwalk, a stop-and-frisk search on a city street, or a traffic stop for speeding or just to check your insurance.

As I point out in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, if you feel like you can’t walk away from a police encounter of your own volition—and more often than not you can’t, especially when you’re being confronted by someone armed to the hilt with all manner of militarized weaponry and gear—then for all intents and purposes, you’re essentially under arrest from the moment a cop stops you.

Still, it doesn’t hurt to clarify that distinction, as Kahler Nygard learned. Nygard was threatened with arrest for failing to comply with an order by TSA agents to undergo additional screening after flying with no incident from Minneapolis to his final destination in Denver. It turns out that Nygard, at one time a vocal critic of the government, had been placed on a special list requiring him to undergo extra airport screening. When airport officials realized that they had failed to carry out the additional screening prior to Nygard’s departure, they attempted to cover their mistake by screening him once he landed. To the annoyance of the government agent, Nygard—who filmed the entire encounter—repeatedly asked the agent whether he was being detained or not. Once he deduced that the TSA had no legal rationale for detaining him, Nygard walked away without incident. The encounter might have ended far differently had a police officer been standing nearby, however.

Another important takeaway from Nygard’s experience is to record your encounter with police. While technology is always going to be a double-edged sword, with the gadgets that are the most useful to us in our daily lives—GPS devices, cell phones, the internet—being the very tools used by the government to track us, monitor our activities, and generally spy on us, cell phones are particularly useful for recording encounters with the police and have proven to be increasingly powerful reminders to police that they are not all powerful.

No matter what individual police officers might say to the contrary, members of the public have a First Amendment right to record police interactions, as the Justice Department recognized in a 2012 memorandum acknowledging that “recording governmental officers engaged in public duties is a form of speech through which private individuals may gather and disseminate information of public concern, including the conduct of law enforcement officers.”

That said, there may still be consequences for filming the police, as Fred Marlow learned the hard way. Marlow was charged with interfering and resisting arrest, and fined $5,000 for daring to film a SWAT team raid that took place across the street from his apartment. Marlow was asleep when he heard what sounded like “multiple bombs blasting and glass breaking.” Rushing outside to investigate, Marlow filmed police officers dressed in army green camouflage standing beside an armored vehicle, in the process of carrying out a SWAT team raid to serve a search warrant (more than 80,000 such raids take place every year in the U.S. for such routine police procedures as serving search warrants). Ordered to return inside or face arrest for interference, Marlow explained that he was on his own property and could be outside. He was subsequently arrested.

One popular alternative to citizens filming police encounters is having the police wear body cameras, which have been proven to decrease the number of use-of-force incidents and citizen complaints when used properly. Unfortunately, given that they can be turned off as easily as they are turned on, these devices are also ripe for abuse, not to mention the fact that they are privacy-threatening, roving extensions of the surveillance state whose cameras are conveniently pointed at us, not them.

Clearly, the language of freedom is no longer the common tongue spoken by the citizenry and their government. With the government having shifted into a language of force, “we the people” have been reduced to suspects in a surveillance state, criminals in a police state, and enemy combatants in a military empire.

In such an environment, as every resistor from Martin Luther King Jr. and on down the line has learned, there is always a price to be paid for challenging the status quo. Then again, the price for not challenging the status quo is even worse: outright tyranny, the loss of our freedoms, and a totalitarian regime the likes of which the world has never seen before.

The Rutherford Institute

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,063 other followers

%d bloggers like this: