Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others.
~ Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Americans are no longer free (and haven't been for a while now)

As usual, I lag behind on posting some serious material, something so important it is almost shameful that it wasn't done immediately upon my reading of it. It takes time for some of this to percolate through my weary old brain, and it is also a fact that sometimes I am so enraged that I simply cannot trust myself to write about it until I have had a chance to "chill".

Here I am talking about the SWAT raid upon a young black man and his small children by the Department of Education. Yes, I am not sh*tting you, it was the Federal Department of Education. They were looking for his estranged wife in connection with possible student aid fraud. They destroyed the door to his home, man-handled him into his front yard, cuffed him, and put him and his three small children into a Stockton PD patrol car for six hours, while they ransacked his house for evidence they believed his estranged wife - who no longer even lived there - might have left. Here is the original story I read from the Central Stockton News (there evidently have been some updates since then):

STOCKTON, CA - Kenneth Wright does not have a criminal record and he had no reason to believe a S.W.A.T team would be breaking down his door at 6 a.m. on Tuesday.

"I look out of my window and I see 15 police officers," Wright said.

Wright came downstairs in his boxer shorts as the officers team barged through his front door. Wright said an officer grabbed him by the neck and led him outside on his front lawn.

"He had his knee on my back and I had no idea why they were there," Wright said.

According to Wright, officers also woke his three young children ages 3, 7, and 11, and put them in a Stockton police patrol car with him. Officers then searched his house.

As it turned out, the person law enforcement was looking for was not there - Wright's estranged wife.

"They put me in handcuffs in that hot patrol car for six hours, traumatizing my kids," Wright said.

Wright said he later went to the mayor and Stockton Police Department, but the city of Stockton had nothing to do with Wright's search warrant.

The U.S. Department of Education issued the search and called in S.W.A.T for his wife's defaulted student loans.

"They busted down my door for this," Wright said. "It wasn't even me."

According to the Department of Education's Office of the Inspector General, the case can't be discussed publicly until it is closed, but a representative confirmed the department did issue the search warrant at Wright's home.

Wednesday morning, inspector general spokeswoman Gina Burress provided the following statement:

"The Office of Inspector General does not engage in the collection of student loans. Our mission is to conduct criminal investigations related to the programs and operations of the U.S. Department of Education, which include the student financial aid programs. We can confirm that we executed a search warrant at the residence, however our policy is not to discuss details of our on-going work."

The Office of the Inspector General has a law enforcement branch of federal agents that carry out search warrants and investigations.

The Stockton Police Department said it was asked by federal agents to provide one officer and one patrol car just for a police presence when carrying out the search warrant.

Police officers did not participate in breaking Wright's door, handcuffing him, or searching his home.

"All I want is an apology for me and my kids and for them to get me a new door," Wright said.

Now, I understand that there may be more to the story. It is possible (or it may simply be an attempt by the Dept. of Education to make themselves look less horrible) that this young man may have assisted his wife in the alleged fraud. However, even if he did, even if he had been the sole perpetrator of some serious, hundred thousand dollar student aid fraud, would you feel an armed and violent SWAT response putting three small children at risk was justified? That an armed assault upon his home was warranted? Here is a post that covers the bases pretty well, posted by Alvie D. Zane at his blog, "Cliffs of Insanity" (and how appropriate in this instance): Raided for Student Loans

We have accepted the complete erosion of our rights by law enforcement. They can stop and detain us whenever they want. They can arrest us whenever they want. They can beat us whenever they want. They can take us to jail whenever they want. They can SWAT raid our house, stomp our kittens, shoot our dogs, force our pregnant wives against the wall causing them to miscarry, shoot at us 71 times (only hitting 20 times out of the 71, however), refuse to allow the paramedics into the house to treat us, so that we die, and then lie about it in public and in court. And suffer no consequences whatsoever, not even temporary embarrassment.

As we have seen in the past, they can shoot a twelve year old boy, put a bullet from a sniper rifle through the mouth and into the brain stem of his mother, who was holding her infant child, burn over 70 men women and children in the basement of their church, destroy the evidence of how those men women and children were shot at and prevented from leaving the building to give themselves up to avoid being killed, and suffer no consequences at all. Unless you consider getting promotions a consequence.

I am not a rabid cop hater. I worked for the San Diego Police Department as a police officer. I worked as a police officer in small towns in Connecticut and California, and spent over ten years with the California Highway Patrol in Communications. I worked with a lot of good cops. But I also worked with cops that were sociopaths and had no business wearing a badge. [Like Tom Riggs, who graduated in the same academy class I did at San Diego PD, and Donovan Jacobs, two racist sociopaths who abused the wrong black man one day and paid a price for it. Like Craig Peyer at the California Highway Patrol at Border Division in San Diego, who was convicted of the murder of Cara Knott.]

The use of SWAT teams has gotten completely out of control, however, and more and more citizens are paying the ultimate price for it, like Jose Guerena being killed by the Pima County (Arizona) SWAT team here recently, and now this incident where SWAT is used to effect a search of a private home for student aid fraud. Why did they use armed officers for a search warrant for a totally non-violent crime?

Back in 2004, a man named Jeff Snyder wrote an article called "Walter Mitty's Second Amendment". I think it is appropriate to include it here, because it speaks to how much of our freedom, how many of our natural rights, we have given up, allowed to be ignored/infringed/abrogated/over-ridden. I think it is obvious that what freedom we thought we had is merely an illusion. And the lack of any significant response to the Department of Education's SWAT raid has given me another reason to believe this.

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Sorry, folks. I was completely ignorant about comment rules. Anyone can post, but I'd prefer a name, even if it is made up. Anonymous posts just seem cheap, if you know what I mean. Also, if you want to argue a point, that's fine. Cheap shots and name calling towards me or another person commenting (ad hominem) is rude and will get you banned. Other than that, I'd love to get some comments.