Raleigh Police arrested protesters protesting the shutdown of non-essential activities. To which the police department provided Exhibit 1 in the civil rights lawsuit coming soon to the Fourth District Court.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
North Carolina state constitution
Sec. 12. Right of assembly and petition.
"The people have a right to assemble together to consult for their common good, to instruct their representatives, and to apply to the General Assembly for redress of grievances; but secret political societies are dangerous to the liberties of a free people and shall not be tolerated."
Police in Kentucky placed warnings and collected license plates after a church service on Easter Sunday. A lawsuit was filed to stop the illegal ban of a drive-in service. In Mississippi, police issued tickets to churchgoers. The US DOJ is looking into the matter.
These actions were highly unconstitutional and totally unjustified. Whatever the police thought they were accomplishing will cost them their credibility. Politicians, health officials, and police administrators don't understand that they aren't protecting anyone's health when they do this and the public relations nightmare is far more dangerous to them than whatever infection risk is to the public.
Cops want to protect people and ensure the law is obeyed. That has a way of creeping into your brain where your mission to enforce the law often goes against common sense. Add a politician or two and the upper echelon of the department pushing you forward and you do dumb stuff. The weird justification is that you are protecting the people from themselves, essentially.
And if you're wrong, then the courts can sort it out. Cops get stuck in this mentality from courts literally second-guessing police, either correctly as justice or wrongly as often happens. They become resigned to letting the system work. It becomes easy to say "an order is an order, and this isn't something horrible like take their guns or put the Jews in a boxcar," so they follow it. The woman was presumably booked and released, so what skin is it off their back?
Arresting people for paddleboarding to make an example of them to other beach-goers make sense if you need to make an example of someone to show you mean that the back is really closed. And I bet those two deputies from LA County feel really stupid and sorry about the whole thing. Shutting down public spaces to recreation is just asinine, but arresting people for going to the beach or park isn't quite the red-line that arresting protesters or harassing people on Easter Sunday at church is.
On an unrelated note, LAPD is nearing widespread mutiny at some of the things they have been asked to recently. That's not something you'll see in the LA Times.
We need to make the shutdown-related constitutional issues a red-line issue for police. While the lawsuits are going to be epic, they come at the cost of the taxpayer. Elected officials, health officers, and unfortunately line cops need to go to jail over this. Why individual cops? To get them to think twice about "letting the courts sort it out." Sure, arresting cops for civil rights violations will piss off other cops and demoralize them, but it is necessary pour encourager les autres.
Right now, a lot of cops could care less about the unconstitutional restrictions and are doing a really crappy job of following orders, if they are at all, but these cops in Raleigh and others across the country need to fear the US Attorney more than firing. Some cops are better at avoiding this than others. In many places, a lot of cops simply don't care, or if they have to, are doing a deliberately poor job of enforcing the shutdown orders.
Police administrators and elected officials have to realize that putting police in this position severely erodes the public trust. It antagonizes the public against police and makes law enforcement more difficult. If the shutdown and the unconstitutional enforcement continues, it will sow the seeds of rebellion.
It's not too crazy to say someone who doesn't have the patience for the courts to go one step too far and start shooting. We're not at that stage yet, but angry people in tough times tend to think it's earlier than it is. We need to avoid violence and to do that the federal government needs to sort out the petty tyrants at the state level. The President can give cops cover for telling the bosses to shove it.
While we're at it, public health officers need to answer for bizarre shutdown orders and on what basis the orders were made. Due process demands that orders be based in things like science. For instance, why is it illegal for Walmart to sell clothes when you're already in the store for food? How does shutting down a brick-and-mortar store not create unfair competition in favor of Amazon and mail-order businesses? Price gouging being labeled unfair competition is just hypocrisy.
It's time for federal lawsuits and indictments. Maybe even some very awkward arrests of cops and public officials for state civil rights law violations.
18 U.S. Code § 242 Deprivation of rights under color of law
hoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or to different punishments, pains, or penalties, on account of such person being an alien, or by reason of his color, or race, than are prescribed for the punishment of citizens, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if bodily injury results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include the use, attempted use, or threatened use of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.
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