I agree so seldom with what is written in the Huffington Post as to be just this side of never. But lo and behold, yesterday there was a column by Tom Mullen about the arrest of Sandra Bland that should resonate thunderously across this country. In that article, the author spares the reader the indignant shrieks of “racism!”.
It wasn’t her being black that started the tragic chain of events. It was refusing to follow a police officer’s orders.
At some point between ratification of the Fourth Amendment and the death of Sandra Bland, the entire principle underpinning that constitutional protection has been lost. The Fourth Amendment assumes armed agents of the state can’t be trusted to issue their own orders. That’s why we have warrants in the first place. They are permitted only to enforce the orders of an impartial judge, who authorizes them to apprehend suspects upon the judge’s determination of probable cause.
That’s not to say many or most officers aren’t well-intentioned or trustworthy. But their job is to use force. That role must be separated from the issuance of orders.
Had Sandra Bland been a murder suspect and arresting officer Brian Encinia serving a warrant for her arrest, no one would have questioned Encinia’s conduct in ordering her out of her car.
But Bland wasn’t a murder suspect. As she quite rationally protested, she was ordered out of her car over a “failure to signal.” She had complied with the traffic stop. I seriously doubt there is a law or ordinance requiring her to stop smoking while being issued a citation for a traffic violation.
Emphasis mine. Read the whole thing. Definitely points to ponder. Much has been said here and elsewhere about the runaway authority being exercised by law enforcement at the expense of Constitutional liberties. Ferguson, and the “stop and frisk” policies in Brooklyn are such cases. However, quite deliberately, the usual suspects shout “racism” at the tops of their lungs to obfuscate the true issues and stifle intelligent discussion.
In Ferguson, the conversation had drifted from Michael Brown’s actions (robbing a store and reaching for the policeman’s gun) to the actions of deputized law enforcement brought in to keep order. These actions included pointing a loaded weapon at an unarmed and innocent civilian with a threat to inflict mortal harm. It was when those actions became the focus of outrage, that AG Eric Holder and his ilk moved in to redirect the story back toward cries of racism, and the utterly disingenuous “Hands Up” meme.
I have had a number of conversations about the “stop and frisk” policy in New York. It was immediately surmised that such a policy was inherently racist, and that is the reason it should have been stopped. When I point out that, racist policy or not, the Fourth Amendment forbids the police from stopping and searching someone ANYWHERE without probable cause, I often get surprised looks. A recitation of the Fourth Amendment sometimes helps.
The author offers a highly plausible explanation for the actions of the arresting officer:
…it’s much more likely he treated her the way he did because she didn’t exhibit blind obedience to his every whim, something he was trained not to tolerate and Americans of all political persuasions seem to have acquiesced to without question.
The idea of going along to get along has become a very dangerous thing in the larger picture. It is creating precedent of unfettered authority in the hands of law enforcement, while at the same time, de facto negating our civil liberties in the face of petty tyranny.
Mix in what XBRAD has documented so often, the militarization of our police forces nationwide, and the result is the subjugation of a free people to an authority without control or restraint, except that of the temperament and decency of those in that authority. Our Constitution was written, and has been enforced, to prevent precisely such an eventuality.