Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I Tried to Learn Greek: Police Report submitted to United States Department of the Interior

Police Report submitted to United States Department of the Interior
I Tried to Learn Greek: ζητών του απάντηση

I think this is where police brutality starts - right here, to average people, and it goes unnoticed when people fail to report the misconduct of officers that they suffer from every day all over the country. Don't put up with it - report it, make a paper trail. Call the number on the bottom of your ticket, get your story straight, look up the laws, and send it in to the people who are training these guys. This is the report I just sent in.

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

-Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America

July 3rd, 2009 11:15pm

I was with a group of friends and acquaintances somewhere between beach 17 and 18 at Ocean Beach in San Francisco. We had just finished eating a delicious fire-cooked feast of foil-baked food, and were standing around the fire together listening to the waves and talking under a starry sky when we were spotted by some uniformed officers. I believe there were five of them. They drove up behind our group in two beach buggies and began to gather around us, forming a sort of semi circle from the north and east. They shined their flashlights in our eyes when we looked to acknowledge their arrival, then began shining their lights on our bags and asking people questions; Any alcohol? No, we said. What's in those bags? There were some paper bags the groceries had come in, which were now largely filled with trash, and our personal backpacks and coolers. They demanded that someone search through these bags. But that person's search produced nothing of concern and they started poking around themselves. Already they had infringed on our Fourth Amendment right to be secure in our persons and effects. Apparently they were looking for alcohol. However, our group was standing around a public fire pit with a number of other groups.They did not have probable cause, nor does probable cause necessarily circumvent the need to issue a warrant or at least to state a reason for suspicion. Even where a search is deemed valid without a warrant ''...the Court frequently asserts that ''the most basic constitutional rule in this area is that 'searches conducted outside the judicial process, without prior approval by judge or magistrate, are per se unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment” (9/7/2009). This search was unreasonable.

I was standing on the more eastern side of the semi-circle of officials, and I was upset by how nervous our group had become when they arrived, as well as by their unwarranted search. Our group was not being rowdy or loud. The only things about us which may have attracted attention were our numbers and diversity, so I spoke up. There were two uniformed men standing nearby, so I put my question out to them “Why are you searching us?” I got no reply. So I tried another angle. I said “It's illegal to search without a cause, why are you searching us?” This time, the officer farther from me turned around and beamed me in the face with his flashlight as he said “I'll give you a ticket without a cause!”.

My stomach tightened. This man wearing a government uniform, carrying a large heavy flashlight, and very probably armed with a gun, had plainly stated that he was willing to blatantly defy the law. He made this statement among his peers, all similarly out-fitted, and none of them spoke up. None of my peers dared to say anything as we were all prepared only for a pleasant evening out on the beach, not a hostile confrontation with authority.

I was still shocked by his words by the time he approached me. Again the light was in my face, then it traveled down to my left hand in which I was holding a quarter-full plastic cup. “What's in the cup?” he demanded. I saw sand settled in the bottom of the cup and floating near the edges. Without thinking, I dumped the cup upside down in the sand. He instantly grabbed my shoulder, squeezing hard and pulled me roughly away from the fire and my friends. “Come with me” My feet were barely touching the ground. This man-handling was entirely unnecessary. He did not even ask me to follow him before grabbing hold of my shoulder and dragging me across the sand. I was intimidated, I was even scared. I was physically powerless compared to him, obviously the people I was with would not have been able to help me should the need arise, and he had already made it quite clear that he was not compelled to obey the law. This was a frightening combination.

To Read the Rest of the Report

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