Thursday, January 2, 2014

Demand Your Rights and Get Tortured

Not in Russia.  Not in China. Not in Iran. Not even in Afghanistan.

Right here in the American Heartland.


I wrote about this incident when it happened because of the malicious use of tasers, but this article discusses it in the context of "internal security checkpoints" and the growing civil disobedience against it:
During a routine trip from San Diego to Phoenix in 2009, Pastor Steven Anderson was stopped at an internal immigration checkpoint about 70 miles from the Mexican border. A stern-looking Border Patrol agent asked Anderson to provide proof of citizenship and requested permission to search his car.

The persistent pastor declined both, citing his Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. He then asked to be allowed to go on his way. The request was denied.

After a period of dithering, agents announced that a police dog had alerted to potential contraband in the vehicle. They instructed Anderson to pull over into a secondary inspection area. The pastor repeatedly refused, at which point a Border Patrol agent and a state police officer simultaneously broke both windows of his car and shot the pastor with Tasers from each side, delivering lengthy and repeated shocks while Anderson repeatedly screamed in agony.

The brutality was captured on video. Anderson's hand-held camera recorded events until moments after he was shocked, and CCTV footage captured much of what came afterward. In recorded testimony the following day, Anderson described how one of the agents involved with the incident shoved the pastor's head into the shards of broken window glass while dragging him from the car, and forced him to the ground. Other agents joined the action, with one repeatedly beating Anderson with a baton.

Lying helplessly on the ground, the pastor was again shocked with Tasers. After several minutes, the agents finally pulled up his bloodied body and took the broken man into custody.

Anderson is a hero to the members of a growing national cause. A decentralized movement of refuseniks is increasingly fighting back against the Border Patrol's shocking internal checkpoint system. Through civil disobedience, legal challenges, and generous helpings of YouTube, these ID scofflaws may be getting bloody, but they are actively challenging the constitutionality of a system most Americans don't realize exists.
I realize this is yet another of those "who cares, if you have nothing to hide why not cooperate" things for a lot of people. And I admit that I would be reluctant to put my big bloggy mouth where my money is and personally challenge cops carrying tasers, batons and guns myself. But it is another example of how the post 9/11 police state has expanded what used to be a pretty sleepy little program that featured a couple of somnambulant cops out in the middle of nowhere looking for trucks full of immigrants into full-fledged quasi military checkpoints.

Just consider for a moment the picture of federal officers repeatedly beating and tasering a person on the basis of his assertion of his 4th and 5th amendment rights. That just can't be right.
This reads exactly like the descriptions we heard in high school of daily life behind the Iron Curtain - beatings and torture and humiliation without cause, just to intimidate and keep the population terrorized. The kind of thing that could never happen in America.

I do not have the words to describe how this breaks my heart.

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