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Police State

What Has Happened To American Liberty?

By James Donahue

There was a time when growing up a small Michigan community of about 2,000 that our town police chief was a respected and admired part of the citizenry. I remember when he used to pick up drunks stumbling out of one of the downtown taverns and drive them home so they didn’t try to drive their cars.

As teenagers growing up in that town, we didn’t fear our "town cop." We were assured that as long as we behaved ourselves we had nothing to fear. Even when we were caught involved in mischief, the worse that happened was a severe scolding.

Boy has that scene ever changed. Instead of a single officer dressed in a blue or brown uniform, the police today are paired off two to a car. And the police cars seem to be everywhere. On a single call the police cars appear like a herd of cattle racing to the feed trough. The officers wear riot gear complete with black boots, full body armor, billy clubs and semi-automatic rifles in addition to those nine millimeter Glocks strapped to their belts.

If you we are pulled over on the road by a police car, we can expect to be detained for 30 minutes or longer, with bright flashing red, white and blue lights and a blinding police strobe spotlight trained on the rear window while the officer reads our papers, driver’s license and checks his in-car computer for any past violations, court warrants and unpaid parking tickets. Woe onto us if he finds cause for an arrest. We rarely get out of these situations without some kind of ticket for a moving violation. The old days of police warnings seem to be long past.

There is a general feeling in America that when neighborhood troubles occur, the last thing to do is call the police. Rather than helping, the officers that arrive only appear to make things worse.

As more and more people buy those new cell phones with mini-video cameras and computers packaged inside, videos of police violence have become more and more frequent on the Internet. After the infamous Rodney King beating that sparked the Los Angeles riots in 1992, images like this have become so common that it is difficult to keep track of them all. Even the police are capturing images of themselves manhandling drivers via cameras mounted on the dashboards of their own cars.

How did we reach a point where we must fear the officers who were sworn to "protect and serve" the people? Was it the rush of fear that swept the nation after the staged 9-11 attacks? Remember how the incident prompted Congress to pass the terrible Patriot Act with no questions asked? It was then a 363-page document that flew through both the House and Senate at such speed President George W. Bush signed it into Law on October 26, 2001, just over a month after the attack. The act, which has since been modified and amended, gives police and government agencies the freedom to invade our private communications, telephone calls, e-mails and other records in the name of stopping terrorism. Who took the time to read such a document? How could it have been prepared in such a short time after the attack? Why didn't anybody question the events going on at that time?

Bush quickly took America into a state of war, sending troops to invade Afghanistan and declaring a War on Terrorism. Later he chose to invade Iraq. Since then, the barriers between the people and the police seem to be getting higher and higher. This has been especially evident during the Occupy Movements in cities across the nation, where armies of police in riot dress have confronted the hundreds and sometimes thousands of peaceful demonstrators, often turning the gatherings into unnecessary melees and leading to many arrests.

Unfortunately, President Barack Obama, who promised change when elected to office in 2008, has done nothing to ease the War on Terror or the tensions between the police and civilians. If anything, the problem has grown worse. And the violence on the streets has been intensifying.

Here are some of the troublesome incidents that made the news in recent weeks:

In Casselberry, Florida, police officers retained Zikomo Peurifoy on a charge of jaywalking. When Peurifoy refused to show his identification papers and resisted attempts to handcuff him, the officers used their tasers to electronically subdue him. He said he was hit by the tasers repeatedly.

There have been incidents in the United States where citizens have been arrested for filming activities by the police, including simple traffic stops. In 2011 a First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that filming police officers is perfectly legal.

Also, by law, police must have a reasonable suspicion that a person has been involved in criminal activity before detaining a person and demanding to see their ID. It appears that the police are acting on a belief that all citizens are legally required to follow their every order.

In July, 2012, Michael Salman was arrested and found guilty of 67 code violations in the City of Phoenix, Arizona, after police raided a Bible study gathering at his home. Salman and his wife were entertaining about 15 to 20 people at the time. Apparently this was in violation of a city ordinance. The court sentenced Salman to spend 60 days in jail and fined him $12,180.

The police were alerted after neighbors complained about noise and traffic congestion around the Salman home.

Would this have happened if Salman was hosting a group of men to drink beer and watch football? We can bet that kind of gathering has been occurring all over Phoenix, as it has all over the United States, for years.

The Constitution guarantees "the right of the people peaceably to assemble." What happened to the Salman family in Phoenix has serious implications for everybody in the country. If the police can raid that home because of a Bible study, what is coming down on us next?

The stories are getting worse. It seems that police, compliance officers and "nuisance abatement teams" are using brutal Gestapo tactics on homeowners, especially the elderly, all over the country.

In Martinez, Georgia, local code compliance officer Jimmy Vowell broke into the home of Erica Masters while she was asleep in her bed. He entered her bedroom, pulled her out of bed and yelled at her for not mowing her grass. The incident was captured on the house surveillance video.

In Rhode Island, an 81-year-old woman fell behind on a $474 sewer bill. A corporation bought the house on a tax sale for $836. The woman was evicted from the home she had occupied for more than 40 years. The house then went on the market and sold for $85,000.

In Tulsa, Oklahoma Denise Morrison was growing a variety of flowers, fruits and herbs in a "survival garden" that contained plants she was using to treat her arthritis. Her front and back yards were filled with her garden plants instead of grass. But Tulsa apparently had a law on the books against that. One day code enforcement officers arrived to cut down her garden. Morrison, who is out of work, said she relied on those plants and trees for food and medicine.

Sadly, it does not seem to matter who we elect for President, or which party controls our nation or state offices. Since the 9-11 attack America’s constitutional freedoms have been steadily eroding.

Can it be stopped, or is it too late to save our nation? Perhaps the goons have already taken control and we are only now beginning to wake up and understand what has been done to us.