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From Boston to Ferguson to Charlottesville: The Evolution of a Police State Lockdown

From Boston to Ferguson to Charlottesville: The Evolution of a Police State Lockdown

“It takes a remarkable force to keep nearly a million people quietly indoors for an entire day, home from work and school, from neighborhood errands and out-of-town travel. It takes a remarkable force to keep businesses closed and cars off the road, to keep playgrounds empty and porches unused across a densely populated place 125 square miles in size. This happened … not because armed officers went door-to-door, or imposed a curfew, or threatened martial law. All around the region, for 13 hours, people locked up their businesses and ‘sheltered in place’ out of a kind of collective will. The force that kept them there wasn’t external – there was virtually no active enforcement across the city of the governor’s plea that people stay indoors. Rather, the pressure was an internal one – expressed as concern, or helpfulness, or in some cases, fear – felt in thousands of individual homes.”—Journalist Emily Badger, “The Psychology of a Citywide Lockdown”

It has grow to be method too straightforward to lockdown this nation.

5 years in the past, the town of Boston was locked down whereas police carried out a military-style manhunt for suspects within the 2013 Boston Marathon explosion.

4 years in the past, the town of Ferguson, Missouri, was locked down, with authorities officers deploying a large SWAT group, an armored personnel service, males in camouflage pointing heavy artillery on the crowd, smoke bombs and tear fuel to quell citizen unrest over a police capturing of a younger, unarmed black man.

Three years in the past, the town of Baltimore was put beneath a military-enforced lockdown after civil unrest over police brutality erupted into rioting. Greater than 1,500 nationwide guard troops have been deployed whereas residents have been ordered to keep inside their houses and put beneath a 10 pm curfew.

This yr, it was my hometown of Charlottesville, Va., inhabitants 50,000, that was locked down whereas authorities officers declared a state of emergency and enacted heightened safety measures tantamount to martial regulation, regardless of the absence of any publicized details about credible threats to public security.

As Tess Owen studies for Vice:

One yr after white supremacists paraded by way of the streets, the face of downtown Charlottesville was reworked as soon as once more – this time with checkpoints, military-style camps for Nationwide Guard, and state police on each nook. When residents awakened Saturday, all entrances to the downtown mall have been blocked off, aside from two checkpoints, the place police appeared via individuals’s luggage for lighters, knives or another weapons. Up above, standing atop a constructing website, two nationwide guard members photographed the people coming out and in… A Nationwide Guard encampment was arrange in McGuffey Park, between the youngsters’s playground and the basketball courtroom, the place about 20 army cops in camouflage have been snoozing within the shade of some timber. An analogous encampment was arrange a few blocks away.

Extra particulars from journalist Ned Oliver:

Downtown Charlottesville felt just like the inexperienced zone of a war-torn metropolis Saturday. Greater than a thousand native and state cops barricaded 10 blocks of the town’s fashionable pedestrian district, the Downtown Mall, to put together for the one-year anniversary of the white supremacist rally final yr that left dozens injured and one lifeless. To enter, individuals had to submit to bag checks and searches at one of two checkpoints… Preparations apart, in contrast to final yr, no white supremacist teams had stated they have been going to go to the town, and, by week’s finish, none had. As an alternative, it was a regular day on the mall apart from the heavy safety, a army helicopter continually circling overhead, and a whole lot of cops milling round.

Make no mistake, this was a militarized train in intimidation, and it labored solely too nicely.

For probably the most half, the residents of this metropolis—as soon as residence to Thomas Jefferson, the nation’s third president, writer of the Declaration of Independence, and champion of the Invoice of Rights—welcomed the city-wide lockdown, the invasion of their privateness, and the dismantling of each constitutional proper meant to function a bulwark towards authorities abuses.

But for these like myself who’ve studied rising police states, the sight of any American metropolis positioned beneath martial regulation—its residents primarily underneath home arrest (officers used the Orwellian phrase “shelter in place” in Boston to describe the obligatory lockdown), military-style helicopters outfitted with thermal imaging units buzzing the skies, tanks and armored automobiles on the streets, and snipers perched on rooftops, whereas hundreds of black-garbed police swarmed the streets and SWAT groups carried out house-to-house searches—leaves us in a rising state of unease.

Watching the occasions of the lockdown unfold, I couldn’t assist however assume of Nazi Area Marshal Hermann Goering’s remarks in the course of the Nuremberg trials. As Goering famous:

It’s all the time a easy matter to drag individuals alongside whether or not it’s a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the individuals can all the time be introduced to the bidding of the leaders. That is straightforward. All you’ve got to do is inform them they’re being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the nation to hazard. It really works the identical in each nation.

Because the occasions in Charlottesville have made clear, it does certainly work the identical in each nation.

Regardless of the menace to so-called safety—whether or not it’s civil unrest, faculty shootings, or alleged acts of terrorism—authorities officers will capitalize on the nation’s heightened feelings, confusion and worry as a means of extending the attain of the police state.

These troubling developments are the outward manifestations of an inside, philosophical shift underway in how the federal government views not solely the Structure and the Invoice of Rights, however “we the people,” as nicely.

What this displays is a transfer away from a authorities sure by the rule of regulation to one which seeks complete management by way of the imposition of its personal self-serving legal guidelines on the populace.

Sadly, it doesn’t take a lot for the American individuals to march in lockstep with the federal government’s dictates, even when it means submitting to martial regulation, having their houses searched, and being stripped of one’s constitutional rights at a second’s discover.

In Charlottesville, most of the group fell in line, apart from one gun-toting, disabled, 71-year-old warfare veteran who was arrested for buying cans of Arizona iced tea, a can of bug spray and razor blades, all of which have been on the Metropolis’s record of briefly prohibited, probably “dangerous” gadgets. By the way, the veteran’s weapons (not among the many listing of prohibited gadgets) triggered no alarm.

Speak about draconian.

This continuous undermining of the principles that shield civil liberties will inevitably have far-reaching penalties on a populace that not solely stays ignorant about their rights however is inclined to sacrifice their liberties for phantom guarantees of security.

Be warned: these lockdowns are simply a precursor to full-blown martial regulation.

The powers-that-be need us acclimated to the sights and sounds of a city-wide lockdown with tanks within the streets, army encampments in cities, Blackhawk helicopters and armed drones patrolling overhead.

They need us to settle for the truth that within the American police state, we’re all probably responsible, all potential criminals, all suspects ready to be accused of a crime.

They need us to be meek and submissive.

They need us to report on one another.

They need us to be grateful to the standing armies for his or her so-called safety.

They need us to self-censor our speech, self-limit our actions, and police ourselves.

As Glenn Greenwald notes in The Intercept:

“Americans are now so accustomed to seeing police officers decked in camouflage and Robocop-style costumes, riding in armored vehicles and carrying automatic weapons first introduced during the U.S. occupation of Baghdad, that it has become normalized… The dangers of domestic militarization are both numerous and manifest. To begin with… it degrades the mentality of police forces in virtually every negative way and subjects their targeted communities to rampant brutality and unaccountable abuse… Police militarization also poses grave and direct dangers to basic political liberties, including rights of free speech, press and assembly.”

Make no mistake: these are the hallmarks of a army occupation.

Militarized police. Riot squads. Camouflage gear. Black uniforms. Armored automobiles. Mass arrests. Pepper spray. Tear fuel. Batons. Strip searches. Surveillance cameras. Kevlar vests. Drones. Deadly weapons. Much less-than-lethal weapons unleashed with lethal pressure. Rubber bullets. Water cannons. Stun grenades. Arrests of journalists. Crowd management techniques. Intimidation techniques. Brutality.

We’re already beneath martial regulation, held at gunpoint by a standing military.

Take a take a look at the photographs from Charlottesville, from Baltimore, from Ferguson and from Boston, after which attempt to persuade your self that that is what freedom in America is meant to seem like.

A standing military—one thing that propelled the early colonists into revolution—strips the American individuals of any vestige of freedom.

It was because of this that those that established America vested management of the army in a civilian authorities, with a civilian commander-in-chief. They didn’t need a army authorities, dominated by pressure. Relatively, they opted for a republic sure by the rule of regulation: the U.S. Structure.

Sadly, with the Structure beneath fixed assault, the army’s energy, affect and authority have grown dramatically. Even the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which makes it a crime for the federal government to use the army to perform arrests, searches, seizure of proof and different actions usually dealt with by a civilian police pressure, was tremendously weakened by each Barack Obama and George W. Bush, who ushered in exemptions permitting troops to deploy domestically and arrest civilians within the wake of alleged terrorist acts.

Now we discover ourselves struggling to retain some semblance of freedom within the face of police and regulation enforcement businesses that look and act just like the army and have simply as little regard for the Fourth Modification, legal guidelines such because the NDAA that permit the army to arrest and indefinitely detain Americans, and army drills that acclimate the American individuals to the sight of armored tanks within the streets, army encampments in cities, and fight plane patrolling overhead.

We’ve already gone too far down this street.

Add these lockdowns onto the listing of different troubling developments which have taken place over the previous 30 years or extra, and the image grows much more troubling: the enlargement of the army industrial complicated and its affect in Washington DC, the rampant surveillance, the corporate-funded elections and revolving door between lobbyists and elected officers, the militarized police, the loss of our freedoms, the injustice of the courts, the privatized prisons, the varsity lockdowns, the roadside strip searches, the army drills on home soil, the fusion facilities and the simultaneous fusing of each department of regulation enforcement (federal, state and native), the stockpiling of ammunition by numerous authorities businesses, the lively shooter drills which might be indistinguishable from precise crises, the financial system flirting with close to collapse, and so on.

Abruptly, the general image appears that rather more sinister.

The lesson for the remaining of us is that this: as soon as a free individuals permits the federal government to make inroads into their freedoms or makes use of those self same freedoms as bargaining chips for safety, it shortly turns into a slippery slope to outright tyranny. And it doesn’t actually matter whether or not it’s a Democrat or a Republican on the helm, as a result of the bureaucratic mindset on each side of the aisle now appears to embody the identical philosophy of authoritarian authorities.

Keep in mind, a police state doesn’t come about in a single day.

It begins small, maybe with a revenue-generating pink mild digital camera at an intersection.

When that’s carried out with out opposition, maybe subsequent will probably be surveillance cameras on public streets. License plate readers on police cruisers. Extra cops on the beat. Free army gear from the federal authorities. Free speech zones and 0 tolerance insurance policies and curfews. SWAT group raids. Drones flying overhead. Metropolis-wide lockdowns.

Regardless of the way it begins, nevertheless, it all the time ends the identical.

Keep in mind, it’s a slippery slope from a questionable infringement justified within the identify of security to all-out tyranny.

These are not warning indicators of a steadily encroaching police state.

As I clarify in my e-book Battlefield America: The Struggle on the American Individuals, the police state has arrived.

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Contributed by John W. Whitehead of The Rutherford Institute.

Since 1996, John W. Whitehead has taken on all the things from human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, safety of spiritual freedom, and baby pornography, to household autonomy points, cross burning, the sanctity of human life, and the warfare on terrorism in his weekly opinion column. A self-proclaimed civil libertarian, Whitehead is taken into account by many to be a authorized, political and cultural watchdog—sounding the decision for integrity, accountability and an adherence to the democratic rules on which this nation was based.

Again and again, Whitehead hits the bull’s eye with commentaries which might be insightful, related and provocative. And all too typically, he finds himself beneath hearth for his frank and unadulterated viewpoint. However as he ceaselessly remarks, “Anytime people find themselves under fire from both the liberal left and the conservative right, it means that that person is probably right on target.”

Mr. Whitehead’s commentaries have appeared within the Los Angeles Occasions, New York Occasions, Washington Publish, Washington Occasions and USA Right now.