Our friend Jim Bovard has penned a typically cogent piece stemming from a recent statement by a presidential candidate. Most such proclamations from politicians, on the campaign trail or otherwise, are more fantasy than fact. This one is no different. Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg expressed the desire to see a day come when anyone, regardless of race, can feel safety rather than fear when a cop approaches them.
Bovard lays out the myriad reasons why that is indeed fantasy. There are plenty of examples of police misconduct, no one can deny that. But, the assertion that that is the only problem, that we just need to ensure better personnel, misses the main issue. Simply put, law enforcement has entirely too much power. It is not an exaggeration to say this country has become a police state.
According to the U.S. Supreme Court in Atwater v. Lago Vista, 532 U.S. 318 (2001): “Held: The Fourth Amendment does not forbid a warrantless arrest for a minor criminal offense, such as a misdemeanor seatbelt violation punishable only by a fine.” Let that sink in. Even Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has said that “such unbounded discretion carries with it grave potential for abuse.”
Civil asset forfeiture laws are especially egregious. We have written about that a fair amount. Anyone aware of the power this gives to the guys in that patrol car have good reason to feel some tug of fear. Not because you have done anything wrong but because you can suffer at the hands of law enforcement despite that.
“Police have been trained to confiscate private property of drivers by absurdly claiming that ‘trash on the floor of a vehicle, abundant energy drinks or air fresheners hanging from rearview mirrors’ are signs of criminal activity.”Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg expressed the desire to see a day come when anyone, regardless of race, can feel safety rather than fear when a cop approaches them. Bovard lays out the myriad reasons why that is indeed fantasy. Click To Tweet
We’ve Got Our Eyes on You
But wait, there’s more.
“There is a long history of officialdom fabricating pretexts to stop drivers. From 1992 through 2013, the Drug Enforcement Administration illegally commandeered the phone records of all Americans who called most of the foreign nations in the world, as USA Today revealed in 2015. To keep its phone record seizures secret, the DEA partnered with local police to concoct phony reasons for traffic stops that sometimes included staging fake auto accidents and even car thefts. Why should citizens trust law enforcement agencies that engaged of decades of systemic fraud?”
Add to the list ever more means for those with the badges and guns to spy on us from license plate scanners to surveillance cameras. That the information police access from the myriad databases is not as reliable as it should be may not bother them but it should us.
To top it all off, when something goes wrong, as it too often does, it is almost never the police left holding the bag. History shows how little officers or departments pay for their crimes. That is doled out to the people who are told they should trust the cops, don’t fear them. In your dreams.
Read more at Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s Friendly Police Fantasy.