Criminal Justice

Colorado Takes Action, Ends Qualified Immunity For Police

Colorado Takes Action, Ends Qualified Immunity For Police

When George Floyd was killed last month, the nation was shaken out of its slumber in regard to police brutality in this country. Cities quite literally burned over the anger that has been boiling up over decades as cops kill people—who are often innocent, unarmed, and even children—and get away with it. Sadly, however, the organized groups behind the protests only appear to be pushing a single, partial solution of “defunding” the police. While this is certainly something to be considered, it is a bandaid on sucking chest wound. To strike the root of the problem, we need bad cops held accountable. One major way to do this is by ending Qualified Immunity. Luckily, this idea is now picking up steam.

This month, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed an omnibus reform bill into law to end qualified immunity for police officers in the state.

“This is a long overdue moment of national reflection,” Polis said at the signing ceremony. “This is a meaningful, substantial reform bill.”

A summary of the sea change from the Colorado legislature notes:

The bill allows a person who has a constitutional right secured by the bill of rights of the Colorado constitution that is infringed upon by a peace officer to bring a civil action for the violation. A plaintiff who prevails in the lawsuit is entitled to reasonable attorney fees, and a defendant in an individual suit is entitled to reasonable attorney fees for defending any frivolous claims. Qualified immunity and a defendant’s good faith but erroneous belief in the lawfulness of his or her conduct are not defenses is not a defense to the civil action. The bill requires a political subdivision of the state to indemnify its employees for such a claim; except that if the peace officer’s employer determines the officer did not act upon a good faith and reasonable belief that the action was lawful, then the peace officer is personally liable for 5 percent of the judgment or $25,000, whichever is less, unless the judgment is uncollectible from the officer, then the officer’s employer satisfies the whole judgment .

The precedent setting law reads in part:

A peace officer…employed by a local government who, under color of law, subjects or causes to be subjected, including failing to intervene, any other person to the deprivation of any individual rights that create binding obligations on government actors secured by the bill of rights, Article II of the State Constitution, is liable to the injured party for legal or equitable relief or any other appropriate relief…

qualified immunity is not a defense to liability pursuant to this section.

“Colorado has passed historic civil rights legislation, which both allows citizens to bring civil rights claims against police officers who violate their rights under the Colorado Constitution, and also clarifies that qualified immunity will not be a defense to any such claims,” the Cato Institute’s Project on Criminal Justice policy analyst Jay Schweikert, and expert on qualified immunity, told Law&Crime. “While this law doesn’t affect the availability of qualified immunity in federal cases, it does ensure that Coloradans who are the victims of police misconduct will have a meaningful remedy in state court.”

As TFTP has reported, when it comes to police accountability, one overarching question remains. ‘Do we want to live in a society whereby law enforcement officials can completely violate a person’s constitutional rights and get away with it?’ For our society to be free, the answer to that question must be a resounding, powerful, unwavering, ‘Hell No!’

Unfortunately, however, this is the case most of the time thanks to law enforcement personnel’s use and abuse of Qualified Immunity.

Qualified immunity is a legal doctrine in United States federal law that shields government officials from being sued for discretionary actions performed within their official capacity, unless their actions violated “clearly established” federal law or constitutional rights.

The Supreme Court created qualified immunity in 1982. With that novel invention, the court granted all government officials immunity for violating constitutional and civil rights unless the victims of those violations can show that the rights were “clearly established.”

As Anya Bidwell points out, although innocuous sounding, the clearly established test is a legal obstacle nearly impossible to overcome. It requires a victim to identify an earlier decision by the Supreme Court, or a federal appeals court in the same jurisdiction holding that precisely the same conduct under the same circumstances is illegal or unconstitutional. If none exists, the official is immune. Whether the official’s actions are unconstitutional, intentional or malicious is irrelevant to the test.

An example of this would be the family of George Floyd attempting to seek compensation for his death. Because there has never been a “clearly established” case of a cop kneeling on a man’s neck until he dies being declared unconstitutional, a judge in Minnesota could easily dismiss their case.

It is essentially a get out of jail free card for cops and it perpetuates the problem of police violence by giving bad cops a free pass.

Steps like this in Colorado are essential to reining in the terror of bad cops. This is why everyone needs to call their representatives and tell them to support the bill proposed by Libertarian Congressman Justin Amash (L-Michigan), H.R. 7085 which will end Qualified Immunity on a national level.

“Qualified immunity protects police and other officials from consequences even for horrific rights abuses,” said Amash. “It prevents accountability for the ‘bad apples’ and undermines the public’s faith in law enforcement. It’s at odds with the text of the law and the intent of Congress, and it ultimately leaves Americans’ rights without appropriate protection. Members of Congress have a duty to ensure government officials can be held accountable for violating Americans’ rights, and ending qualified immunity is a crucial part of that.

If you are interested in the other paradigm shifting solutions into quelling police brutality and Americans’ deprivation of rights, we propose five major solutions, including Qualified Immunity, that will have drastic changes. You can read that here.

Matt Agorist is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world. Agorist is also the Editor-at-Large at The Free Thought Project. Follow @MattAgorist on TwitterSteemit, and now on Minds. This article was originally featured at The Free Thought Project and is republished with permission.

There Are Solutions Besides ‘Defund the Police’

There Are Solutions Besides ‘Defund the Police’

“Defund the Police” is the latest rallying cry for protestors in many cities across the nation. Many activists, enraged by the brutal killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, are calling for completely disbanding the police, while others are seeking reductions in police budgets and more government spending elsewhere. However, few activists appear to be calling for a fundamental decrease in the political power that is the root cause of police abuses.

Many “Defund the Police” activists favor ending the war on drugs. That would be a huge leap forward toward making police less intrusive and oppressive. But even if police were no longer making a million plus drug arrests each year, they would still be making more than 9 million other arrests. Few protestors appear to favor the sweeping repeals that could take tens of millions of Americans out of the legal crosshairs.

How many of the “Defund the Police” protestors would support repealing mandatory seatbelt laws as a step toward reducing police power? In 2001, the Supreme Court ruled that police can justifiably arrest anyone believed to have “committed even a very minor criminal offense.” That case involved Gail Atwater, a Texas mother who was driving slowly near her home but, because her children were not wearing seatbelts, was taken away by an abusive cop whose shouting left her children “terrified and hysterical.” A majority of Supreme Court justices recognized that “Atwater’s claim to live free of pointless indignity and confinement clearly outweighs anything the City can raise against it specific to her case”—but upheld the arrest anyhow. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor warned that “such unbounded discretion carries with it grave potential for abuse.”

Unfortunately, there are endless pretexts for people to be arrested nowadays, because federal, state, and local politicians and officials have criminalized daily life with hundreds of thousands of edicts. As Gerard Arenberg, executive director of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, told me in the 1996, “We have so damn many laws, you can’t drive the streets without breaking the law. I could write you a hundred tickets depending on what you said to me when I stopped you.”

What about repealing state laws that make parents criminals if they smoke a cigarette while driving little Bastian or Alison to soccer practice? What about repealing the federal law that compelled states to criminalize anyone drinking one beer in their car—or, better yet, repealing the federal law that compelled states to raise the age for drinking alcohol to twenty-one? Or would today’s enraged reformers prefer to take the risk of cops beating the hell out of any twenty-year-old caught with a Bud Light?

Would feminist zealots calling to “Defund the Police” be willing to tolerate the legalization of sex work? That would mean they could no longer howl about vast “human trafficking” conspiracies exploiting young girls every time an undercover cop is illicitly groped by a 58-year-old Chinese woman in a massage parlor.

Some Black Lives Matters activists are calling for a ban on “stop and frisk” warrantless searches for drugs, guns, or other prohibited items. But some “Defund the Police” activists also favor government prohibitions of private firearms. It is as if they were seeking to formally enact the old slogan: “When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.”

Much of the media coverage is whooping up the recent wave of protests, perhaps hoping to stir public rage to support sweeping new government edicts. According to Washington Post assistant editor Robert Gebelhoff,

It would be a mistake to try to resolve the problems with police behavior without also acknowledging and addressing America’s epidemic of gun violence. Police reform and gun reform go hand in hand. Reducing the easy availability of guns would not eliminate the problems with policing in America nor end unwarranted killings, but it would help.

After heavily armed government agents forcibly confiscate a couple hundred million privately owned guns, the police won’t worry about any resistance and can behave like perfect gentlemen. Repealing most gun laws would produce a vast increase in self-reliance, especially in urban areas where police dismally fail to protect residents. But few street protestors are making that demand.

Many “Defund the Police” advocates presume that poverty is the cause of crime and that that shifting tax dollars from police budgets to social programs and handouts will automatically reduce violence. The Great Society programs launched by President Lyndon Johnson vastly increased handouts on a similar assumption. Instead, violent crime skyrocketed, especially in inner cities where dependence on government aid was highest. “The increase in arrests for violent crimes among blacks during the 1965–70 period was seven times that of whites,” as Charles Murray noted in his 1984 book Losing Ground.

Many advocates of defunding the police believe that a universal basic income, along with free housing and other services, would practically end urban strife. The history of Section 8 housing subsidies provides a stunning rebuke to such naïve assumptions. Concentrations of Section 8 recipients routinely spur crime waves that ravage both the peace and property values of their neighbors. A 2009 study published in the Homicide Studies academic journal found that in Louisville, Memphis, and other cities violent crime skyrocketed in neighborhoods where Section 8 recipients resettled after leaving public housing.

“Defund the Police” demands are already being translated by politicians into a justification for additional spending for social services or the usual sops. In Montgomery County, Maryland, police chiefs issued a statement announcing that they were “outraged” over George Floyd’s killing and then pledged to “improve training in cultural competency for our officers.” Elsewhere, politicians and police chiefs are talking about relying more on mental health workers to handle volatile situations. Radio host Austin Petersen predicted that the George Floyd protest “reforms” would result in “more social programs meant to give jobs to liberal white women.” Author and filmmaker Peter Quinones deftly captured the likely reality with a meme where Minneapolis police were renamed the Tactical Social Workers and still looking hungry to kick ass.

Politicians are claiming to have seen the light thanks to the Floyd protests. Floyd was killed, because politicians at many state and local levels have dismally failed to constrain the lethal power of police. There was nothing to stop politicians from banning the vast majority of no-knock raids, or torpedoing the perverse “qualified immunity” doctrine concocted by the Supreme Court, or repealing the even more perverse “Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights” that can convey a license to kill. One of the most powerful members of the House of Representatives, Eliot Engel (D-NY), embodied the political reality when he was caught on a hot mike: “If I didn’t have a primary, I wouldn’t care” about denouncing the George Floyd killing. It is unclear how much longer other politicians will pretend to give a damn.

Police have too much power, because politicians have too much power. There is little chance that the George Floyd protests and riots will reverse the criminalization of daily life. How many “Defund the Police” activists are also calling for a radical rollback of politicians’ prerogatives to punish almost any activity they disapprove? There will be some reforms and plenty of promises, but as long as cops have pretexts to harass and assail millions of peaceful Americans every day, the outrages will not end. Until protestors realize that the problem is Leviathan, not the local police chief, oppression will continue.

This article was originally featured at the Ludwig von Mises Insitute and is republished with permission. 

The Irredeemable Racism of the Death Penalty

The Irredeemable Racism of the Death Penalty

When confronted with overwhelming evidence of a discriminatory state practice, a decent society responds in one of two ways: by trying to remove discrimination from the practice, or by scrapping the practice altogether. In the context of capital punishment, the Supreme Court has opted affirmatively for the former course of action. In 1987, the Court in McCleskey v. Kemp expressed its hope and conviction that, even without a wholesale abolition of capital punishment, any troubling racism in executions was destined to end through Court-facilitated adjustments to the ultimate punishment.

Nearly 35 years later, that conviction has proved unfounded. As we maneuver our way through a political moment pregnant with possibility—in which the foundations of our criminal justice system are under heightened scrutiny, and in which “abolitionists” debate “reformists” about the best path forward—we should be mindful of what the results of our national experiment with the death penalty suggest. As long as it retains tremendous power, the government will be tremendously dangerous. If government officials are in a position to discriminate in life-or-death siutations, Americans will continue to die because of discrimination. If our history with the death penalty is any indication, successfully taming the governmental beast cannot mean simply regulating (that is, making regular) the government’s exercise of all of its awesome powers. Instead, it must mean taking many of those powers away from the government outright.

Efforts on the high court to excise racism from the administration of the death penalty date back to 1963 (at the latest). In Rudolph v. Alabama, Frank Lee Rudolph, a black man in Alabama, petitioned the Supreme Court for review of his death sentence for raping a white woman. Although the Court ultimately declined to hear the case, three (outnumbered) justices argued that executions for rape raise important constitutional questions and that the Court, therefore, had good reason to weigh in. We now know that Justice Arthur Goldberg, who authored this dissenting opinion, was largely concerned about the death penalty’s disproportionate impact on black men convicted of raping white women. It was only at the insistence of Chief Justice Earl Warren—who apparently felt it necessary for the Court to sidestep the charged issue of black crime—that Goldberg did not mention race in his dissent to the denial of review of Rudolph’s case.

Those seeking to circumscribe the racialized system of capital punishment by ending executions for rape (of grown women) got their victory in 1977, when the Court ruled in Coker v. Georgia that executing people for rape was so disproportionate as to violate the 8th Amendment. Given the sordid history of the death penalty for rape as a mechanism of racial terrorism in the United States, this was a remarkable achievement. Even so, capital punishment (for other crimes) stayed in place, as did the plague of racism that infected it.

A decade after Coker, the Court addressed the racial issue head-on in McCleskey, where the majority suggested that it was possible to administer the death penalty in a sufficiently race-neutral way. Crucial to the majority opinion was the Court’s “Batson Doctrine,” named for a then-recent case in which the Court made it more difficult for prosecutors to strike potential jurors on racial grounds. The availability of Batson-based relief, the Court suggested, minimized the odds of unfair capital trials, thereby casting doubt on death penalty abolitionists’ contention that the death penalty was irredeemably racist in its application.

As Carol and Jordan Steiker have pointed out, the Court in McCleskey overstated its case. To be sure, Batson has and had made it easier to thwart prosecutorial attempts to strike jurors because of their race. However, the fact that prosecutorial teams can almost effortlessly concoct and claim benign, non-racial reasons for striking potential jurors of color means that many race-based peremptory challenges probably go unpunished. In any event, Batson failed to address other ways that racial prejudice can surface in death penalty cases. For example, Batson did nothing to remove prosecutors’ vast discretion over whether to seek the death penalty in the first place. Insofar as their implicit racial biases affect prosecutors’ assessment of the heinousness of various crimes, the exercise of this discretion can affect who lives and who dies.

The failure of the Court’s efforts to cleanse the death penalty of its racism is apparent in our own time. In 2018, the State of Georgia executed Kenneth Fults after one of the jurors in Fults’s case claimed post-trial that the “nigger got just what should have happened,” no matter if Fults “ever killed anybody.” Similarly shockingly, the African-American Andre Thomas, after he was found guilty of killing his “white estranged wife” and their child, was sentenced to death by exclusively white jurors—three of whom claimed to disfavor interracial romance. (The state’s conduct is even more shocking in light of the fact that Thomas is so mentally ill as to have removed and eaten his own eye.)

Those who believe that the death penalty has no appreciable race problem may consider these sorts of cases simple aberrations in a system otherwise designed to withstand attempts at racist infiltration. But the reality is that as long as powerful actors exercise (an inevitable) discretion over the death penalty’s application—by deciding whether to seek the death penalty, whether to grant clemency, and how to weigh mitigating factors in defendants’ individual cases—discrimination is likely to rear its ugly head in the penalty’s administration.

The clear lesson for those seeking to address abuses of American state power in other contexts is to eschew the utopianism, either sincere or feigned, that the Court has embraced in its retention of the death penalty. Reasonable people can disagree about the propriety of hard drug laws, the deployment of armed police officers in response to 911 calls, the placement of officers in public schools, and—for that matter—the death penalty. However, those who would embrace an extensive state presence in people’s lives should not be allowed to claim that the mammoth state—through diversity and sensitivity training, for example, or through peremptory challenge reforms—can be made nondiscriminatory. Simply put, efforts to rid a human institution of the apparently ineradicable human vulnerability to prejudice is doomed to failure. The only way to stop the state from abusing its power is to eliminate the power that the state would abuse.

Tommy Raskin is pursuing a J.D. at Harvard Law School. Readers are encouraged to research “Courting Death: The Supreme Court and Capital Punishment” by Jordan and Carol Steiker for more information.

Getting the Police Issue Right

Getting the Police Issue Right

Now that folks are coming around on the idea that law enforcement needs serious structural transformation in this country, let’s make our argument a little more robust.

The tiniest fraction of people get killed by police. It is not useful to think of this problem as one in which there is any real likelihood of being gunned down. At least from the perspective of intellectual integrity (whether it’s useful for the masses to see it that way, is another question).

The problem with the term “police brutality” is that it has multiple meanings. From a police officers perspective, something that you regard as police brutality is in fact, them just doing their job. They believe they are doing the right thing, the best they can. And they probably carry some moral justification around with them that’s not dissimilar to yours. I am not talking about the instances where among LEOs it would be regarded as excessive force. It’s way less likely for law enforcement to act with impunity than it is for them to do what they think is right.

The most egregious issue is mass incarceration. We have by far the largest prison population in the world, anyway you slice it. Absolute numbers, as a percentage, etc. This comes from over-policing and an emphasis on enforcement of prohibition.

Among ways of slicing the demographics, the most vulnerable to over-policing and mass incarceration are the poor.

So how does race come into play? Well, 3/4 of the prison population is black. So notwithstanding socio-economic class as the most accurate predictor of vulnerability to over-policing, it is not unreasonable to view this issue as one of race. Particularly when historically, race has been a way of slicing demographics (by which I mean, the Civil rights movement is only a small few decades old). In America today, the poor are not a community. Black people and African-Americans largely see themselves as one. To add to that, there is clear evidence suggesting a cyclical relationship between over-policing and further impoverishment, and there are numerous other factors that suggest a particular causal relationship between fitting a certain profile (namely: being black) and being a target of over-policing.

Therefore, it’s okay that the loudest voices are the communities (actual, not theoretical) that are most impacted by the most egregious issue.

The jury is out on whether some of the relatively few cases of needless killings by police officers will be most effective as the primary motivation for political change in this area. However, at the moment it is pointing to the optimal solution, end over-policing by getting the most police off the streets.

Finally, police are only Sauron’s physical form. The laws criminalizing poverty are the ring of power. They must be thrown into mount doom

Supreme Court Refuses To Reconsider Its Doctrine of ‘Qualified Immunity’ for Police

Supreme Court Refuses To Reconsider Its Doctrine of ‘Qualified Immunity’ for Police

The U.S. Supreme Court today refused to hear eight separate cases that had presented opportunities to reconsider its doctrine of “qualified immunity.” That doctrine, created by the Supreme Court in 1982, holds that government officials can be held accountable for violating the Constitution only if they violate a “clearly established” constitutional rule. In practice, that means that government officials can only be held liable if a federal court of appeals or the U.S. Supreme Court has already held that someone violated the Constitution by engaging in precisely the same conduct under precisely the same circumstances.

“Qualified immunity means that government officials can get away with violating your rights as long as they violated them in a way nobody thought of before,” explained Institute for Justice (IJ) Attorney Anya Bidwell. “And that means that the most egregious abuses are frequently the ones for which no one can be held to account.”

Qualified immunity has come in for harsh criticism from the left and the right alike. And the outrageous facts of the cases rejected today help illustrate why: In them, lower courts had granted immunity to a group of officers who took an Idaho mom’s consent to “get inside” her home as consent to stand outside, bombarding it with tear-gas grenades; to Texas medical regulators who showed up at a doctor’s office and, without warning or a warrant, rifled through confidential patient files; and to a deputy sheriff who (while in pursuit of an unrelated, unarmed suspect) held a group of young children at gunpoint and then shot a ten-year-old in the leg while firing at a non-threatening family pet.

“Qualified immunity is a failure as a matter of policy, as a matter of law, and as a matter of basic morality,” said IJ Senior Attorney Robert McNamara, who was counsel of record in West v. Winfield, one of the cases denied review today. “It is past time for the Supreme Court to admit as much and start expecting government officials to follow the Constitution.”

The Court’s rejection of the petitions was not unanimous. Justice Clarence Thomas issued a dissent in the longest-pending petition, Baxter v. Bracey, calling for the Court to reevaluate the doctrine entirely: “I continue to have strong doubts about our §1983 qualified immunity doctrine,” Justice Thomas’s dissent concludes. “Given the importance of this question, I would grant the petition for certiorari.”

The drumbeat of voices calling for an end to qualified immunity and a return to basic government accountability has only grown louder in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers. Articles in outlets ranging from USA Today to Fox News Channel to the New York Times editorial page all pointed to the slaying as a symptom of a broader culture of official impunity and called upon the Supreme Court to rethink its qualified immunity rules. Today’s decision means those cries will, at least for now, go unanswered.

“There is no shortage of outrageous qualified immunity cases for the Supreme Court to take,” said IJ Attorney Patrick Jaicomo. “It has refused to hear a case this year, but it can only avoid the issue for so long. The skewed incentives of qualified immunity guarantee that lower courts will continue to generate more examples of injustice, and we will keep bringing those examples back to the courthouse steps until we break through.”

The Institute for Justice, through its Project on Immunity and Accountability, actively litigates to remove barriers to meaningful enforcement of constitutional rights. Today’s decision denied review in one of IJ’s Immunity and Accountability cases, but a second, Brownback v. King, has already been granted review and will be heard by the justices next term. A third case, brought on behalf of a Colorado family whose home was destroyed by police in pursuit of a suspect who had no connection to them, will be considered later this month.

“The principle at stake is simple: If citizens must obey the law, then government officials must obey the Constitution,” concluded IJ President and General Counsel Scott Bullock. “The Constitution’s promises of freedom and individual rights are important only to the extent that they are actually enforced—and the Institute for Justice will work tirelessly to ensure that they are.”

John Kramer is Vice President for Communications at the Institute for Justice. This article was originally featured at the Institute for Justice and is republished with permission. 

How ‘Wandering Cops’ Exacerbate Police Abuse

How ‘Wandering Cops’ Exacerbate Police Abuse

In a previous post, I discussed how fired police officers are often able to get their jobs back by appealing their termination to independent arbitration and thus how only time will tell if the officers involved in the arrest and death of George Floyd will remain fired. Even if they are unable to return to their jobs as Minneapolis police officers, this does not mean that their law enforcement careers are over. There is growing recognition of the phenomenon of the “wandering officer,” or, as the great journalist of law enforcement abuse William Norman Grigg called it, the “gypsy cop.”

The wandering officer is one who is fired or “voluntarily resigns” in lieu of being fired and obtains employment with another law enforcement agency. Although many anecdotes about such officers exist, a recently published Yale Law Journal article by Ben Grunwald and John Rappaport presents the first systematic analysis of the wandering officer. Before discussing their data, Grunwald and Rappaport list a number of examples of wandering officers, including the following:

● Cleveland officer Tim Loehmann, who shot and killed twelve-year-old Tamir Rice, previously worked for the police department in Independence, Ohio, for five months. The Independence deputy police chief wrote a memo noting that Loehmann had resigned rather than face certain termination due to his dangerous loss of composure during firearms training. His supervisors expected that he would be unable to cope or make good decisions under stressful conditions. After being fired for failing to disclose this work history when he applied to the Cleveland Police Department, Loehmann was still able to obtain employment as a law enforcement officer for Belaire, Ohio.

● “New Orleans Police Department officer Carey Dykes was ‘sued for alleged brutality, accused of having sex with a prostitute while on duty and caught sleeping in his patrol car instead of responding to a shooting.’ An internal affairs investigation found seventeen violations of department rules. New Orleans fired Dykes in 2001. Later the same year, Dykes found police work at the Delgado Community College in New Orleans and then the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office.”

● “Nicholas Hogan, an officer with the Tukwila Police Department in Washington, pepper-sprayed a suspect who was restrained on a gurney in a hospital in 2011. Hogan was federally indicted for the act and Tukwila fired him. In 2012, the police department in nearby Snoqualmie hired him only to fire him later for having an affair with the wife of a fellow officer. He was also subsequently incarcerated for the pepperspray incident.”

Grunwald and Rappaport were able to obtain employment data on all police officers in the state of Florida from 1988 to 2017, including the reasons for their firing and whether they resigned in lieu of being fired. They found that in any given year of their study, an average of just under one thousand wandering officers were working as agents of law enforcement in the state of Florida, making up 3-4 percent of all law enforcement officers in the state.1Grunwald and Rappaport believe that, if anything, this is a lowball estimate of the number of wandering officers, since it does not include officers who moved across state lines and those who successfully lied about their employment history. Further, it should not be considered nationally representative, since Florida is relatively strict in terms of decertifying officers and requiring certain background checks for new hires. This may not sound like a lot, but police misconduct is not evenly distributed. Research of the Chicago Police Department by Kyle Rozema and Max Schanzenbach, for example, found that the worst one percent of officers, as measured by civilian complaints, generate nearly five times the number of payouts and more than four times the total damage payouts in civil rights litigation compared to the average officer. In Florida, Grunwald and Rappaport found that compared to new recruits or experienced hires who have never been fired, the wandering officers were much more likely to be fired again and more likely to be fired for engaging in misconduct. Clearly, then, focusing on terminating and preventing the rehire of officers with a demonstrated history of misconduct would disproportionately reduce the amount of misconduct that occurs.

So why isn’t this happening, or at least not to a greater degree than it has? Why would departments even consider hiring an officer who has been fired from another law enforcement agency? There are a number of reasons for this. One is that such job candidates are financially attractive, at least in the short run, compared to new recruits who have to be paid while they undergo training at the police academy and cannot be deployed to the street right away. But, in some cases, hiring police agencies do not know the history of the person they’re hiring.

This was the case with two hires of the West Palm Beach Police Department. One of them had worked for six different departments in Tennessee and Georgia in five years. He resigned from the department in Chattanooga after two complaints of brutality and after his drug problem with marijuana became known. He promised the police commissioner in Chattanooga that he would no longer work in Georgia, Tennessee, or Alabama but would go to southern Florida, disclosing none of these issues to the West Palm Beach Police Department. The other hired officer, while employed by the Riviera Beach Police Department, had beaten an arrested man, blinding him in one eye, resulting in an $80,000 judgment. When the department in West Palm Beach asked the department in Riviera Beach whether there was any derogatory information regarding this applicant, they had reported that they were not aware of any such information even though the beating had occurred five months prior. In 1990, these two officers stopped Robert Jewett for attempting to hitchhike. A struggle ensued, and Jewett was beaten to death. Although both officers were cleared of any wrongdoing by an internal investigation, the Commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement reported that had the West Palm Beach Police Department been aware of these officers’ histories, they would never have been hired and Jewett might still be alive.

Roger Goldman and Steven Puro note that “At the time of the Jewett killing, Florida law did require chiefs to send the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission (CJSTC) a report where they had cause to suspect the officer had committed decertifiable conduct.” Although they had been legally required to do so, the Riviera Beach Police Department did not notify the CJSTC of their officer’s beating and blinding of a suspect. Regarding the officer who had previously worked in Chattanooga, Tennessee law allowed the state Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Commission to revoke the certificate of an officer who had been suspended or terminated for disciplinary reasons, but the regulations did not cover those who had resigned.

Currently, in forty-five states, to become a law enforcement officer requires a certification—essentially an occupational license—from a state-level entity.2According to Roger L. Goldman, the five states in which a police officer cannot be decertified require that barbers have an occupational license. See “A Model Decertification Law,” Saint Louis University Public Law Review 32, no. 1 (2012): 147–56. In most states, this body is called the POST. The rules for decertifying officers vary widely by state, and some standards are rather low. For example, twenty states require a criminal conviction before an officer can be decertified.3See Loren T. Atherley and Matthew J. Hickman “Officer Decertification and the National Decertification Index,” Police Quarterly 16, no. 4 (December 2013): 420–37 for a good summary. Note, however, that since its publication more states allow for decertification, making it dated in some respects. There exists a National Decertification Index (NDI), a database containing the names of decertified officers that can be referenced by POSTs (or their equivalent) and some law enforcement agencies. Reporting decertified officers to the NDI is voluntary, however, and not every agency does it. Further, only twenty-eight POSTs say that they “always” or “frequently” query the NDI. Despite the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing recommending that the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services partner with the International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training “to expand its National Decertification Index to serve as the National Register of Decertified Officers with the goal of covering all agencies within the United States and its territories,” this recommendation has not been implemented, and wandering officers are able to make it through the cracks.

Compared to other proposed police reforms, making sure that police agencies report decertified officers to the NDI and reference it in making their hiring decisions does not face a hard tradeoff4For example, reforms that reduce police protections would require that officers be paid higher wages and might encourage officers to engage in “depolicing.” and there is no clear concentrated interest group to oppose it (e.g., police unions have little interest in expending resources to aid wandering officers who are not paying dues). Roger Goldman considers such a coordinated reform between states “an opportunity for cooperative federalism.” Given the fact that he wrote that back in 2003 and the law enforcement entities who could implement it have dragged their feet on such an obvious, seemingly noncontroversial reform leads one to question how interested they are in reducing misconduct.

Tate Fegley is a Postdoctoral Associate at the Center for Governance and Markets at the University of Pittsburgh. This article was originally featured at the Ludwig von Mises Institute and is republished with permission.

Qualified Immunity: An Invention of Judicial Activism

Qualified Immunity: An Invention of Judicial Activism

Qualified immunity is a legal doctrine that shields cops from liability for actions taken in the line of duty unless they violate rights “clearly established” by existing judicial precedent. No statute exists granting qualified immunity. It evolved over time based on a series of Supreme Court cases.

In practice, qualified immunity makes it extremely difficult to prosecute police officers for using excessive force or committing other acts of misconduct. As Supreme Court Justice Byron White wrote in the 1986 case Malley v. Briggs, qualified immunity protects “all but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law.” Reuters called it “a highly effective shield in thousands of lawsuits seeking to hold cops accountable for using excessive force.”

But how did we end up with qualified immunity in the first place? The legal doctrine evolved over time thanks to federal judicial activism and was applied to every police department in the United States through the incorporation doctrine. The very existence of qualified immunity reinforces an ugly truth. We can’t trust the federal government to protect our rights. It almost always defers to government power.

We can trace the origins of qualified immunity back to the Civil Rights Act of 1871. The act was codified into law by 42 U.S. Code §1983—“Civil action for deprivation of rights.” In effect, it allows any U.S. citizen to sue a state or local official in federal court for “the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws.”

This was one of the first federal laws passed based on the 14th Amendment. The statute arguably overreaches the intent of the 14th. Regardless, for the first time, it created an avenue for individuals to hold state officials accountable through the federal courts.

Although §1983 did not specifically provide for an immunity defense, lawyers for government officials often argued for immunity based on common law, arguing it was implicit in the statute. Early on, immunity defenses were built on a case-by-case basis and not based on settled federal court precedent. But in the 1967 case Pierson v. Ray, the Supreme Court cemented the doctrine of qualified immunity into federal jurisprudence. The Court held that government officials who violate the law or constitutional limits on power in “good faith” can raise “qualified immunity” as a defense.

Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote the majority opinion.

“Under the prevailing view in this country, a peace officer who arrests someone with probable cause is not liable for false arrest simply because the innocence of the suspect is later proved. A policeman’s lot is not so unhappy that he must choose between being charged with dereliction of duty if he does not arrest when he has probable cause, and being mulcted in damages if he does. Although the matter is not entirely free from doubt, the same consideration would seem to require excusing him from liability for acting under a statute that he reasonably believed to be valid but that was later held unconstitutional, on its face or as applied.”

The next step forward for qualified immunity came in the 1971 case Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents. The case opened the door for individuals to sue federal government officials for violations of rights given that §1983 only applied to state and local officials. Justice William Brennan wrote, “While there is no explicit right to file a civil lawsuit against federal government officials who have violated the Fourth Amendment, this right can be inferred. This is because a constitutional protection would not be meaningful if there were no way to seek a remedy for a violation of it.”

In 1982, Harlow v. Fitzgerald established qualified immunity for federal government officials and set the stage for the current definition of qualified immunity. The Court held that government actors are entitled to qualified immunity due to “the need to protect officials who are required to exercise discretion and the related public interest in encouraging the vigorous exercise of official authority.”

“Government officials performing discretionary functions generally are shielded from liability for civil damages insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.” [Empashis added]

Today, courts analyze qualified immunity cases under a three-part test established in Graham v. Connor (1989). Ilan Wurman explained the test in a paper titled Qualified Immunity and Statutory Interpretation published by the Seattle Law Review.

“The test requires courts to undertake an objective analysis of the circumstances surrounding the use of force. Even if a court decides that the use of force was unreasonable and thus unconstitutional, the second step of the inquiry is the qualified immunity analysis: Was it ‘clearly established‘ that this kind of force in this kind of circumstance is unconstitutional? If not, the officer escapes liability.” [Emphasis added]

Grahm also established that all police excessive force cases involving arrests, searches, or investigatory stops must be evaluated under the Fourth Amendment, not the due process clause of the 14th.

Wurman argues that the “clearly established” test erects an almost insurmountable hurdle to those trying to prove excessive force or a violation of their rights.

“The qualified immunity test poses an almost insurmountable analytical problem—the permutations are infinite. A given situation is rarely exactly like another. There will always be sufficient distinguishing facts to decide that there was no clearly established law.”

Bivens and subsequent cases all involved federal government officials, but eventually, the court effectively abandoned the statutory process in §1983 and began hearing cases against state agents directly under the Constitution. As Wurman explained, “Immunity doctrine traditionally looked to the common law to derive immunities in §1983 cases. This approach was lost, quite possibly as a result of historical accident, as the Court began to hear Bivens actions directly under the Constitution and not under any statute.”

Later, he writes, “[The Court] subsequently invented immunity doctrine out of whole cloth in other federal-officer cases and exported that doctrine to the §1983 cases rather than importing the relevant doctrine from the state-officer cases.”

The rationale for federalizing state and local police misconduct cases was good-intentioned. When Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1871, it was next to impossible for African-Americans to get a fair shake in many state courts and government officials could abuse their rights with virtual impunity.

But the end-result of centralizing power in the federal government was worse. Now it’s next to impossible for any person in any state to get a fair shake when challenging police misconduct. The federal courts have cemented a system in place that gives law enforcement officers almost complete immunity and allows them to violate any individual’s rights with virtual impunity.

Through the incorporation doctrine that applies the federal Bill of Rights to state and local governments, this system protects police officers in every city, county and state in the U.S. from Honolulu, Hawaii to West Quoddy Head, Maine.

A decentralized system where cases were heard under state law and state constitutions would undoubtedly have problems. Some states would probably extend almost complete protection to law enforcement officers just like the federalized system. But surely some would be better.

The lesson here is pretty clear. Government protects its own. Centralized power almost never benefits the average person in the long-run. And we cannot count on federal courts to protect our rights.

This article was originally featured at the Tenth Amendment Center and is republished with permission.

Her Name Was Breonna Taylor: The Deadly Consequences of No-Knock Warrants

Her Name Was Breonna Taylor: The Deadly Consequences of No-Knock Warrants

mid the nationwide focus on the death of George Floyd, another tragedy has unfortunately fallen by the wayside. We should not forget the death of Breonna Taylor—or the dire need to abolish the “no-knock” warrants that caused her death, trample property rights, and routinely endanger Americans.

Here’s the sad story of Taylor’s death.

On March 13, police officers broke into the Louisville, Kentucky home of Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, unannounced. The police were executing a “no-knock” warrant, which allows them to conduct a search without identifying themselves as law enforcement, as part of a drug crime investigation into a different suspect—not Taylor or Walker—who was already in police custody.

When Walker heard unknown intruders breaking into his home, he did not know they were police officers. So, quite understandably, Walker grabbed his lawfully-owned firearm and fired a shot at the unknown invaders. The ensuing hail of more than 20 police-fired bullets left Taylor dead, and Walker was arrested for attempted murder of a police officer. (The charge has since been dropped).

Police claim that they knocked at the apartment door and announced themselves, yet that is hard to believe. They were specifically executing a “no-knock” warrant, after all, and not just Walker, but multiple neighbors have confirmed they heard no such announcement.

Neither Taylor nor Walker had a criminal history, and no drugs were found in the raid on their apartment.

Taylor’s killing was a grotesque act of police recklessness. It once again exposes the injustice of “no-knock” warrants, which put both police officers and law-abiding Americans in grave and unnecessary danger by creating a situation where a routine law enforcement search can easily turn into a deadly misunderstanding.

And, sadly, Taylor’s death is not as unique as one might think.

Law enforcement officers conduct 20,000 “no-knock” raids a year. We don’t know exactly how many people are killed or injured as a result, but an analysis from the American Civil Liberties Union does provide some insight. As reported by Vox, the ACLU looked into 818 such “no-knock” raids, and found seven deaths (2 were suicides to evade arrest) and 46 civilian injuries. If these figures are at all representative, that means many, many more Americans are injured or killed across all 20,000 raids.

“No-knock” raids have also resulted in horror stories like a flash-bang grenade being thrown into the crib of a 19-month-old toddler and the shooting of a 7-year-old child.

True, these raids usually don’t end in violence. But every single “no-knock” warrant violates the sanctity of the home, the privacy of the individual, and fundamental property rights, all of which are longstanding tenets in the western tradition of liberty and in the founding ideas of America.

As James Bovard wrote for FEE 20 years ago:

Without private property, there is no escape from state power. Property rights are the border guards around an individual’s life that deter political invasions.

Few government policies better symbolize the contempt for property rights than the rising number of no-knock raids. “A man’s home is his castle” has been an accepted rule of English common law since the early 1600s and required law-enforcement officials to knock on the door and announce themselves before entering a private home. But this standard has increasingly been rejected in favor of another ancient rule—“the king’s keys unlock all doors.”

The notion that “A man’s home is his castle,” as Bovard notes, is a fundamental American principle. It is enshrined in our Constitution, particularly through the Fourth Amendment, which recognizes Americans’ right to be free from “unreasonable searches and seizures” of their homes. It is hard to imagine any search less “reasonable” than one where armed-to-the-teeth police officers burst into your home in the dead of night—and don’t even announce themselves as law enforcement.

And conservatives especially should appreciate the insidious way in which “no-knock” raids undermine the Second Amendment and the right to self-defense. After all, Walker did exactly what many Americans who lawfully own guns would do: protect his home and family from armed intruders. For the exercise of this fundamental right, Taylor paid the ultimate price.

Policies like these compromise the sanctity of every American home. How can anyone exercise their right to self-defense to protect their home and family if they don’t know whether or not it’s the police breaking down the door?

This is why Breonna Taylor’s story must not be allowed to fall through the cracks, and “no-knock” warrants cannot be allowed to stand.

The police officers involved in her case still have not faced any charges, and her mother is calling for justice, saying “I need people to know that her life mattered.”

The only way to truly honor Taylor’s memory is to make sure this kind of tragedy never happens again—and that means banning “no-knock” warrants across the board. Thankfully, there is some political support across the ideological spectrum for this reform.

Congressional Democrats have introduced a police reform bill that would abolish “no-knock” warrants for federal drug cases, which doesn’t go far enough, but is at least a good start.

Meanwhile, Sen. Rand Paul, a libertarian-leaning Kentucky Republican, has led the charge against “no-knocks” from the Right. He was one of the first voices to speak out about Breonna Taylor’s tragic death, and has called for reform in no uncertain terms.

“I think it’s crazy that we’re breaking down people’s doors in the middle of the night,” the senator said in a conversation with Taylor’s aunt. “People are frightened. They don’t know what to do. They don’t know if it’s burglars.”

“I want to make sure that we don’t forget Breonna,” Paul continued. “That we try to make it better, so this doesn’t happen again.” The only way to do that is to consign “no-knock” warrants to the dustbin of history.

Brad Polumbo is a libertarian-conservative journalist and the Eugene S. Thorpe Writing Fellow at the Foundation for Economic Education. This article was originally featured at the Foundation for Economic Education and is republished with permission.

‘Defund the Police’: A Libertarian Moment?

‘Defund the Police’: A Libertarian Moment?

The time is now for American libertarians to get together and publicly broadcast “the solution.” It is my belief that almost all long-time libertarians agree on this solution with perhaps slight variations. The internal debate is mostly in the practicality of the solution, not in the principles of the idea. And the idea of course is for voluntary and private police forces to compete freely with other private police forces whose sole job is to provide conflict resolution, peace, and protection1The Law – Frederick Bastiat https://fee.org/media/14951/thelaw.pdf and audio here https://mises.org/library/law-0 instead of filling state and private prisons with people who commit victimless crimes.

Anyone of us who already has a voice in the libertarian community2This person or group thereof could be anyone like Dr. Ron Paul, Dr. Thomas E Woods, Ben Swan, Scott Horton, Dave Smith, Anyone from Cato, “L” LP, Mises, FEE, AIER etc. This person(s) can be just known in libertarian circles and or in mainstream media. Let’s discuss! , and it does not matter who, has to step up to the plate, rally up a few handfuls of other libertarians3Some of the examples that come to mind are, Adam Kokesh (Ex-Marines), Dale Brown (Detroit threat management Center), and many more.  with some police and military veterans to announce a startup or a franchise. We don’t need infrastructure, or money for that matter. A simple video and a landing page for contact information is all one would need. It is likely that upon the success of this idea, more startups will surface in the market. That’s a good thing because competition is the healthiest thing from the consumer perspective.

“How does a private police force work?” a non-libertarian or a newbie libertarian will ask. There is an incredible amount of literature already available from Murray Rothbard4https://mises.org/wire/privatize-policeto current day libertarians 5https://www.learnliberty.org/tag/police/ 6https://mises.org/search-mises?search=police,but I am going to highlight key points7It is my intent to revise this article as more relevant points are discussed amongst libertarians. below and you may do the same. Most importantly, the time is now to invite the “defund the police” movement, the skeptics, and the opposition to this discussion with our bullet proof ideas. Sure, it’s great we spend money on election campaigns, movies, and such but let us all spend $5 to advertise our policing idea to the world so we can get in the middle of the debate and offer frugal and effective solutions. Plus, it never hurts to spread the ideas of liberty.

Here are some of the key point’s below:

  • Private police will not be able to discriminate for the reasons mentioned below, therefore automatically eliminate police related racism problem. Private police will without a doubt have to practice the most civil and peaceful way to handle policing situations or they will automatically seize to exist.
  • Private police will not be involved in the state and government mandated drug war therefore automatically eliminating almost all gang-related violence.
  • Private police will not participate in federal and state level asset forfeiture and confiscation of private property. Private police will not make arrests for things like not paying vehicle registration, tax evasion and parking ticket fines etc.
  • Unlike current police system in America today, a private police department would not have a monopoly of violence. That means any American citizen will be able to opt in and out as they please as a free citizens of a truly free country.
  • “What about the poor?” they will ask. “Cell411” is an alternate, absolutely free community trust based on a self-policing system which people can adopt if they choose not to participate in the above for any reason including financial difficulty. One simply downloads the app to connect with other local community members who are already using the same app. You can try to convince your neighbors and friends in the community to do the same. Similar to life, car, and home insurance, private police will likely have multiple tier membership available for different levels of protection.
  • Technology today already exists for home security and monitoring systems. With advanced IoT, light bulb cameras provide live and censor-based property surveillance at a very low cost compared to what taxpayers have to forcefully pay now to crummy state police departments. Would you rather pay for an unreliable service with no course of accountability and repercussion or would you rather voluntarily pay a small fee for a service you can not only count on but can hold accountable as per contract?
  • Private police have to keep their customers happy in order to be profitable and to sustain themselves. Bad service means losing customers. Unlike our current system, which forces taxpayers to pay for a bad service, businesses can end up failing if they do not serve their customers.
  • It is in the interest of private police to resolve social problems without violence. Private police will be liable for the loss of a life, whether for both police officers or private citizens.
  • Private police forces will carry business and liability insurance, paid for our of their own pockets. In order to keep the premium at the minimum, they will have to run the business extremely carefully. It puts a very serious responsibility on the police force because, unlike police departments today, private police institutions will not be able to pay for the insurance claims from taxpayers’ pockets. They will have to pay for everything themselves and they understand that a lawsuit can take their business to the cleaners.
  • It is not in the interest of a private police force to arrest people for petty, victimless crimes. Private police will have to operate with limited resources and time which does not allow this business model for useless street thuggery. As previously mentioned, a private police force’s job is to provide peace and conflict resolution.
  • Private police forces will have to compete amongst each other to get customers while with current police, people don’t get a choice.
  • Multiple police forces operating in the same area will have to be civil with each other because no one in their right mind would want a lethal conflic; life is precious for all. In fact, most of the daily conflicts between the customers of the two police forces will likely be resolved before there is any need to resort to courts. Again, the liability insurance will force police forces business model to stick to most peaceful form of conflict resolution services.
  • Private police forces are encouraged to adopt the Viper/Detroit threat management center business model, and only if absolutely necessary, they may carry “SALT” (trademark) weapons instead of lethal weapons. Just because it is a libertarian belief that all life is precious and we must do everything to preserve a life, this doesn’t mean the right to self-ownership, the right to protect oneself with weapons, is negotiable.

There is a lot more that can be said in support to the above, but I realize I’d be preaching to the choir. Any one of us can hold a debate on this subject, so I would just conclude by saying this: we have done a lot of talk but the time is now to start the process and lead by example. Do not let the opportunity slip away.

Goshe King and Joe Green are co-hosts of the Angineering Tech Show. King is also associated with Muslims for Liberty and the Libertarian Party of Pakistan

Senator Rand Paul Proposes National Ban on No-Knock Police Raids

Senator Rand Paul Proposes National Ban on No-Knock Police Raids

On Thursday, in a historical move, all 26 members of the Louisville, Kentucky Metro Council voted to pass a ban on no-knock warrants, a measure known as “Breonna’s Law.” The law was named after the former EMT who was gunned down as she slept in her bed by cops raiding the wrong home. The move still needs to be approved by the mayor, but it is revolutionary in precedent.

Image1“This is one of many critical steps on police reform that we’ve taken to create a more peaceful, just, compassionate and equitable community,” Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said, vowing to sign the bill “soon as it hits my desk.”

While this move is certainly noteworthy and will lead to a massive shift in law enforcement procedure that will undoubtedly save lives, it is reserved solely for the people of Louisville, Kentucky.

So, after this move, Sen. Rand Paul (R) Kentucky, proposed to make this a nationwide ban in one of the most unprecedented anti-police state moves we’ve ever seen.

“After talking with Breonna Taylor’s family, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s long past time to get rid of no-knock warrants. This bill will effectively end no-knock raids in the United States,” Paul said.

As Axios reports, Paul introduced a bill on Thursday that would prohibit federal law enforcement and local police that receive federal funding from entering homes without warning through a “no-knock” warrant, which was reportedly obtained by the officers that shot Louisville resident Breonna Taylor in her home on March 13.

Why it matters: In the wake of nationwide protests against the killing of George Floyd, there’s now a bipartisan consensus that police reform is necessary.

  • Senate Republicans led by Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) are planning a package that would require states to provide data on the use of no-knock warrants, but Paul’s proposal goes even further.
  • House Democrats, meanwhile, have proposed their own bill that would reform police training, make lynching a federal crime, and ban chokeholds and the use of no-knock warrants in drug cases.

As many have pointed out, however, the bill proposed by Democrats is full of questionable language which could end up hindering the already difficult process of seeking transparency in policing. Rand Paul’s proposal we be far more effective at curbing police violence.

Image1 (1)The idea of ceasing the use of no-knock raids is revolutionary when it comes to policing in the United States and its importance cannot be overstated.

Across the country—largely due to the failed drug war—police conduct more than 20,000 no-knock raids a year.

Breonna was murdered during one of them. Countless others are beaten, terrorized, and killed as well, and just like Breonna, cops often act on bad information.

“In theory, no-knock raids are supposed to be used in only the most dangerous situations … In reality, though, no-knock raids are a common tactic, even in less-than-dangerous circumstances,” Vox wrote in an revealing investigation in 2015. Case in point, Breonna Taylor.

A whopping 79 percent of these raids — like the one used to murder Dennis and Rhogena Tuttle in Houston, TX in 2019 — are for search warrants only, mostly for drugs. Just seven percent of no-knock raids are for crisis situations like hostages, barricaded suspects, or active shooters, according to an investigation by the ACLU.

What’s more, the study by the ACLU found that in 36 percent of SWAT deployments for drug searches, and possibly in as many as 65 percent of such deployments, no contraband of any sort was found.

Not only do these raids appear to be mostly unproductive, but they are often carried out on entirely innocent people based on lies, wrong information, or corruption, laying waste to the rights—and lives—of unsuspecting men, women, children, and their pets.

As we’ve seen in the case of Roderick Talley, drug task forces routinely conspire together to raid the homes of innocent people as a means of justifying themselves.

Cops have been routinely caught planting evidence, lying on warrants, and raiding wrong homes, and when we attempt to question this madness, we’re accused of hating cops.

Raiding homes with no-knock warrants was proven so horrifyingly ineffective last year in Houston with the murder Dennis and Rhogena Tuttle, that Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo vowed to end them.

However, unlike the aforementioned bans at the federal and city level, this was the chief simply promising not to do them.

As we reported at the time, in a move TFTP has never seen, the Houston police department is claiming they are taking steps to prevent future scenarios like this from happening—by ceasing the use of no-knock raids.

“The no-knock warrants are going to go away like leaded gasoline in this city,” Acevedo said during a heated town hall meeting on Monday.

“I’m 99.9 percent sure we won’t be using them,” he continued.

Hopefully, this bill receives the bipartisan support it needs to pass and end this violent and destructive practice. It will take us one step closer to one of the most important solutions to ending police brutality, by chipping away at the war on drugs.

Matt Agorist is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world. Agorist is also the Editor-at-Large at The Free Thought Project. Follow @MattAgorist on TwitterSteemit, and now on Minds. This article was originally featured at The Free Thought Project and is republished with permission. 

Why Did The Police Abandon Their Posts?

Why Did The Police Abandon Their Posts?

The riots and looting that have taken place in the aftermath of a Minneapolis law enforcement officer suffocating a man to death — which was caught on video by a bystander — has people questioning the idea of policing and how it is done. Should police be taught de-escalation tactics? Would it be prudent for them to live in the area they patrol? Why is law enforcement still performing “broken window policing?” In the wake of the murder of George Floyd by Derek Chauvin these are all things to ponder. 

Taking all of this into consideration, people aren’t asking why it is that police are abandoning their precincts, leaving them to the mob, and suffering no consequences for this action. A few have asked why the police aren’t protecting the public and its property but one would think that in the least the cops would protect “their own house,” right? It is apparent that people learned nothing from the Parkland school shooting when it comes to “law enforcement” being the “security force” of the people. Even after it was determined that the officers who cowered outside had “no duty to protect,” the public still didn’t grasp the message the courts were sending. 

The idea that law enforcement is there “to serve and protect” individual members of the public has been ruled against over and over again, and the facts surrounding some of the most famous cases are particularly heinous. 

Warren v. District of Columbia (1981) 

Warren v D.C. is probably the most cited case when it comes to the fact that police aren’t mandated to protect the individual. 

The details of the case are terrifying: 

In the early morning hours of Sunday, March 16, 1975, Carolyn Warren and Joan Taliaferro, who shared a room on the third floor of their rooming house at 1112 Lamont Street Northwest in the District of Columbia, and Miriam Douglas, who shared a room on the second floor with her four-year-old daughter, were asleep. The women were awakened by the sound of the back door being broken down by two men later identified as Marvin Kent and James Morse. The men entered Douglas’ second floor room, where Kent forced Douglas to perform oral sex on him and Morse raped her.  

Warren and Taliaferro heard Douglas’ screams from the floor below. Warren called 9-1-1 and told the dispatcher that the house was being burglarized, and requested immediate assistance. The department employee told her to remain quiet and assured her that police assistance would be dispatched promptly.  

Warren’s call was received at Metropolitan Police Department Headquarters at 0623 hours, and was recorded as a burglary-in-progress. At 0626, a call was dispatched to officers on the street as a “Code 2” assignment, although calls of a crime in progress should be given priority and designated as “Code 1.” Four police cruisers responded to the broadcast; three to the Lamont Street address and one to another address to investigate a possible suspect.  

Meanwhile, Warren and Taliaferro crawled from their window onto an adjoining roof and waited for the police to arrive. While there, they observed one policeman drive through the alley behind their house and proceed to the front of the residence without stopping, leaning out the window, or getting out of the car to check the back entrance of the house. A second officer apparently knocked on the door in front of the residence, but left when he received no answer. The three officers departed the scene at 0633, five minutes after they arrived.  

Warren and Taliaferro crawled back inside their room. They again heard Douglas’ continuing screams; again called the police; told the officer that the intruders had entered the home, and requested immediate assistance. Once again, a police officer assured them that help was on the way. This second call was received at 0642 and recorded merely as “investigate the trouble;” it was never dispatched to any police officers.  

Believing the police might be in the house, Warren and Taliaferro called down to Douglas, thereby alerting Kent to their presence. At knife point, Kent and Morse then forced all three women to accompany them to Kent’s apartment. For the next fourteen hours the captive women were raped, robbed, beaten, forced to commit sexual acts upon one another, and made to submit to the sexual demands of Kent and Morse.  

Warren, Taliaferro, and Douglas brought the following claims of negligence against the District of Columbia and the Metropolitan Police Department: the dispatcher’s failure to forward the 6:23 a. m. call with the proper degree of urgency; the responding officers’ failure to follow standard police investigative procedures, specifically their failure to check the rear entrance and position themselves properly near the doors and windows to ascertain whether there was any activity inside; and the dispatcher’s failure to dispatch the 6:42 a. m. call. 

The women sought to sue the District of Columbia and several individual members of the Metropolitan Police Department on two different occasions. The results were: 

“In a 4–3 decision, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals affirmed the trial courts’ dismissal of the complaints against the District of Columbia and individual members of the Metropolitan Police Department based on the public duty doctrine ruling that the duty to provide public services is owed to the public at large, and, absent a special relationship between the police and an individual, no specific legal duty exists. The Court thus adopted the trial court’s determination that no special relationship existed between the police and appellants, and therefore no specific legal duty existed between the police and the appellants.” 

Town of Castle Rock v. Gonzales 

The importance of Castle Rock v Gonzales cannot be overstated since, unlike Warren, this case was taken to the Supreme Court of the U.S.A. for its ruling.  

The events that precipitated the ruling are tragic to say the least: 

During divorce proceedings, Jessica Lenahan-Gonzales, a resident of Castle Rock, Colorado, obtained a permanent restraining order against her husband Simon, who had been stalking her, on June 4, 1999, requiring him to remain at least 100 yards (91 m) from her and her four children (son Jesse, who is not Simon’s  biological child, and daughters Rebecca, Katherine, and Leslie) except during specified visitation time. On June 22, at approximately 5:15 pm, Simon took possession of his three daughters in violation of the order. Jessica called the police at approximately 7:30 pm, 8:30 pm, and 10:10 pm on June 22, and 12:15 am on June 23, and visited the police station in person at 12:40 am on June 23. However, since she from time to time had allowed Simon to take the children at various hours, the police took no action, despite Simon having called Jessica prior to her second police call and informing her that he had the daughters with him at an amusement park in Denver, Colorado. At approximately 3:20 am on June 23, Simon appeared at the Castle Rock police station and was killed in a shoot-out with the officers. A search of his vehicle revealed the corpses of the three daughters, whom it has been assumed he killed prior to his arrival. 

Gonzales filed suit against the Castle Rock police department and three of their officers in the U.S. District Court of Colorado claiming they didn’t protect her even though she had a restraining order against her husband. The officers were declared to have “qualified immunity” and thus, couldn’t be sued. But, “a panel of that court… found a procedural due process claim; an en banc rehearing reached the same conclusion.” 

In this case, the government of the town of Castle Rock took the decision against it to the Supreme Court of the U.S.A. and got the procedural due process claim reversed, finding 

The Court’s majority opinion by Justice Antonin Scalia held that enforcement of the restraining order was not mandatory under Colorado law; were a mandate for enforcement to exist, it would not create an individual right to enforcement that could be considered a protected entitlement under the precedent of Board of Regents of State Colleges v. Roth; and even if there were a protected individual entitlement to enforcement of a restraining order, such entitlement would have no monetary value and hence would not count as property for the Due Process Clause.  

Justice David Souter wrote a concurring opinion, using the reasoning that enforcement of a restraining order is a process, not the interest protected by the process, and that there is not due process protection for processes. 

Lozito v. New York City 

This one was saved until the end because, unlike the previous cases, the officer in this one admitted under grand jury testimony that the reason he didn’t come to the aid of Joseph Lozito is because he was scared that Lozito’s attacker had a gun. 

On February 11thMaksim Gelman, started a “spree-killing” by stabbing his stepfather, Aleksandr Kuznetsov, as many as 55 times because he refused to allow Gelman to use his wife’s (Gelman’s mother’s) car. Gelman would end up killing 3 more while injuring 5, the last injured person being Joe Lozito on a northbound 3-train while on his way to work.  

The facts of the Lozito attack are startling: 

“Joseph Lozito, who was brutally stabbed and “grievously wounded, deeply slashed around the head and neck”, sued police for negligence in failing to render assistance to him as he was being attacked by Gelman. Lozito told reporters that he decided to file the lawsuit after allegedly learning from “a grand-jury member” that NYPD officer Terrance Howell testified that he hid from Gelman before and while Lozito was being attacked because Howell thought Gelman had a gun. In response to the suit, attorneys for the City of New York argued that police had no duty to protect Lozito or any other person from Gelman.” 

Lozito had heard of the previous cases stating that the police had “not duty to protect” but decided to go to court representing himself.  

The court would have none of it: 

“On July 25, 2013, Judge Margaret Chan dismissed Lozito’s suit, stating that while Lozito’s account of the attack rang true and appeared “highly credible”, Chan agreed that police had “no special duty” to protect Lozito.” 

As segments of the country continue protesting, rioting and looting as a “response” to the George Floyd killing, and local governments are questioning funding their enforcement agencies, people should retreat a few steps and take a macro view of their “protection services.” While some are rightly railing against police brutality and aggressive policing, they should go back to the beginning and ask whether any of these “fixes” are going to work if the most basic assumption when it comes to “serving and protecting” is a farce.  

If the police are just there as a clean-up crew, or historians after the fact, why not designate them as such. If in the overwhelming amount of cases they get there after a crime has been committed, it’s time to take that 2nd Amendment seriously and remove the barriers that keep many people, especially those in high crime areas, from protecting themselves. “Armed” with the knowledge that those you have falsely believed were there to protect you are in fact serving another purpose, rational individuals should be looking for realistic options when it comes to protecting yourself from any threat that may come your way; public or private. 

How Libertarians Can Create Order From Chaos

How Libertarians Can Create Order From Chaos

The aftermath of George Floyd’s murder has ushered in a grisly scene of terror for many. All around the country police are attacking peaceful protestors while ideological opportunists loot and riot, destroying private property and burning down cities.

As emotions run high and polarization continues to divide the country, libertarians find themselves bickering over the binary laid out before them by statists of all stripes—are cops the bad guys? Or are the looters the bad guys?

Yes!

For decades libertarians have railed against police and the abuse of power that runs rampant among their ranks. They’ve spent much of their careers desecrating private property, violating citizen’s rights, and imprisoning non-violent members of society for financial gain. On the other side of the argument, anti-capitalist instigators infiltrate peaceful protests to further their ideals of an armed revolution by destroying businesses, churches, and communities. Both sides of this quarrel take advantage of well-meaning individuals to further their agenda(s).

Libertarians have no interest on either side, yet, as Martin Luther King Jr. used violent protests of his era in his favor—deal with them or deal with us—libertarians may use the animalistic behavior of both parties to emphasize market solutions.

As Bastiat is quoted as stating, “Paris doesn’t go hungry.”

It is no secret in libertarian circles that the libertarian response to central planning, which Mises called “planned chaos,” is to utilize the market, allowing competition to separate the wheat from the chaff; creating order from said chaos. During this insidious time that response is needed more than ever.

Lisa Bender, the president of the Minneapolis City Council, was interviewed by CNN about the city’s stance to defund the police. It should come as no surprise that this politician, like all politicians, had no solutions to the problems that will surely arise once the MPD is defunded and eventually abolished. As is the case with all statists, her responses were emotionally driven much like right-wingers’ defense of the police is. If either side were to ask themselves simple questions in regards to defunding the police it’s entirely possible that they may switch sides completely.

Who will enforce arbitrary anti-liberty regulations and prohibitions on guns? Who is to punish those that sin against the environment, like using straws?

Neither left nor right have spent a moment considering the unintended consequences that their reactionary positions would surely cause.

On the other hand, libertarians have spent decades considering, theorizing, writing, and advocating for the defunding and dismantling of police. And though the movement is not addressing the problems that will result from the abolition of police it is leaving a glaring hole in the market for libertarians to fill.

Imagine a Private Membership Association app—we’ll call it Defund and Defend—that costs $2.99/month. For that $2.99/month Defund and Defend offers you a list of vetted security firms they contract with in your area. When you open the app you see the approved list: Threat Management Inc., The Protectorate Co., The Midnight Watchmen, and Safe-N-Secure LLC. You select your firm of choice, choose pay per call or join for a monthly fee, and meet with customer service to ensure your needs are met. If at any time you are dissatisfied with the services of a firm you may leave a bad review to warn other consumers and trial another firm until you find a firm that fits your specific requirements. The market moves in to fill a vacuum and delivers superior service in the absense of a state monopoly.

Anti-capitalists will certainly push back against such ideas, spewing such strawmen as, “You’ll see these firms become violent; warring amongst themselves.” Yet, Apple and Android don’t take up arms in the street fighting over territory. You only see that in black markets, or when the state’s monopoly is challenged. If anti-capitalists wish to opt out the market has no mechanism to coerce them into participation. That’s merely a state solution tankies insist on projecting onto businesses because it’s the only way they can think to attract consumers.

At this point some may be saying this is fantasy. To that I’d only direct you to research the amount of private security firms that contract with corporations and the wealthy. If the state wishes to deem such entities illegal wouldn’t one only have to argue discrimination?

At any rate, I’m not an attorney. There would certainly be some legal challenges as there were with Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb. This probably isn’t even a perfect solution. However, by now there are evil geniuses in our midst calculating risk v reward, and designing brilliant systems that utilize and promote libertarian first principles. That is the goal.

Libertarians should not feel pressured into the camps of left or right during such contentious times. The libertarian line has never moved: there are always market solutions that will serve all people sufficiently, and that is how we find order in the midst of chaos.

Libertarians Should Support #AbolishThePolice

Libertarians Should Support #AbolishThePolice

The protests in response to the murder of George Floyd have brought more mainstream exposure to a radical libertarian position than any other other political movement since Ron Paul’s presidential run. A number of hashtags calling for the defunding, disbanding and outright abolition of local police have propelled the topic into mainstream discourse. Over the past few days, The Star Tribune, Time magazine and today, the NYT have all run articles exploring the notion. A notion for which libertarians have devoted considerable effort, over the course of many decades, towards providing a theoretical and intellectual unpinning.

Due to the cultural development of the libertarian movement since the elder Paul’s presidential bid, however, some high profile libertarians have found it difficult to find fraternity with or even support such calls from urban minority community activists who have recently stolen the attention of the 24 hour news cycle. This is true for many reasons. Questions of the coherency of the narrative (who will enforce leftist laws???), over emphasis on racial issues instead of a focus on the institution of the police, and just the overwhelming growth of power of PC culture in just the last decade has made such libertarians regard this recent development as somewhat dubious.

Even on their own terms, it’s not clear that these views are justified.

First, its unclear as to whether or not this movement even qualifies as leftist, at least in the sense the term is used. If the position itself is leftist, than libertarians need to just accept that they hold leftist views. If by leftist they mean that *every* protester and voice in favor of abolition *also* holds socialist and anti-capitalist views, well that is immediately falsified. A number of libertarians have come out in support of the protests, a number even participated. How many people have to be libertarian for the movement to be libertarian? a plurality? a majority? Are we just going to say those people don’t count? Ok, so *most* protesters, right? What about the hundreds of thousands of participants who hold a complex set of political views that cant be easily summed up in a pithy way?  If what matters is the majority, than the movement has no political affiliation at all. What about the fact that ideas are transmitted through a sophisticated network over a variety of media, and people form their opinions based on a variety of influences. That political movements take on a life of their own, and calls to abolish are potentially as much to do with libertarian yammering as anything else?

Fine. Perhaps then, its the organizers that qualify the movement as leftist. I would accept that if they were calling for the platitudes and fashionable leftist rhetoric of yesteryear, These protesters have one goal. End the reign of terror that police have inflicted on the communities they are supposed to be serving and protecting.

“But it doesn’t make sense! How will they collect their revenue?”

Next we hear the following objection. “They don’t really want abolition, because then they couldn’t enforce their laws”. A slightly more coherent version of this rebuttal is “They haven’t really thought it through.” There is still *so* much wrong with this. Not only is it incredibly patronizing, but it homogenizes the entire movement. Libertarians are supposed to be methodological individualists. Not every protester is uniformly in favor of occupational licensing, zoning laws, business licenses, etc… In fact, most of these people don’t even consider these to be related issues, never mind having overwhelming support for them. Those who are familiar, have probably been victimized by such institutions themselves. What you really mean is that the political class wont let it happen. Uh, ok. Aren’t we all fighting the political class?

“But it shouldn’t all/only be about race”.

Yeah, well it is. At least for the people engaging in meaningful political activism right now. In the United States, urban minorities have a sense of the world in which their “class” such as it is, is perpetually victimized by a political establishment concerned with social control and exploitation. Is that not demonstrably true? Libertarians have historically never disputed that narrative. Our’s has always been a position that urban minorities are not focusing on appropriate causal factors… Which factors may i ask? … THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE INFRASTRUCTURE!!! Leftist are finally dialed in on the exact issue that libertarians have been saying lies at the heart of racial disparity, and now we cant support it because they see themselves as a class.

“What if they replace it with something worse?”

What  if they were screaming End the Fed? Would you be saying “What if they put in something worse?”. Sorry, guys. End the Fed is cancelled cuz there are greenbackers and conspiracy kooks. What if they were saying “End the empire”? It’s a callow angle. It certainly isn’t a priori true that replacing police with social programs would be less libertarian, and certainly reasonable that such programs could be more so. It’s a question of particulars. Each would have to be looked at on a case by case basis and evaluated on its own merit. Oppose those things when they happen. And what the hell can be worse than armed enforcement wing of the state? At worst, a replacement would be everything police already are, minus the guns. But again, nobody is saying you need to support that. Just oppose what you know is wrong. And for those suggesting that the market will not fill the void left by an absence of armed security forces in major cities… That people wont spontaneously organize to solve complex social problems. I have a few books i’d recommend. Starting with this one.

“It’s just the Mob. Looting is bad”

Here I would offer that somebody can see this movement as something bigger than looting and remain consistent with libertarianism. You don’t have to abandon a value for property rights to support activists protesting transgressions against property (such as all actions of the police on behalf of the state necessarily are). And by the way, it takes as little moral courage to decry looting as it does to decry racism. Not to mention the perfectly reasonable argument (which is born out by the evidence btw) that police response to the protests has done more to cause the looting than anything else.

“If they take power, they will betray us.”

Who? Leftists? Aside from the fact that i remain unsold on the idea that this is a homogeneous leftist movement, I am constantly bombarded with the narrative that they already have all of the power. How does them doing something we agree with put us at more risk than we would be otherwise?

So there it is. My case for embracing this movement. And my frustration at the state of libertarianism today. We should all agree, as we once had, Defund, Disband, Abolish. And if you don’t agree, well than get out of the way, cuz its happening.

 

 

The Solutions To Police Brutality Politicians Aren’t Giving You

The Solutions To Police Brutality Politicians Aren’t Giving You

Since the George Floyd protests began last week, they have since morphed into a much broader movement which is now exposing a problem this country has suffered from for a long time. The system of law enforcement in this country has morphed into a militarized standing army, preying on the poor, and rife with corruption. Naturally, people are pissed.

As we have stated from the beginning of the riots, this reaction was inevitable. Minorities and the poor have been pushed into a corner and ignored as the state preyed on them through a system of extortion and violence. One can only be ignored for so long before they eventually lash out.

Remember when football players were peacefully protesting by taking a knee, and the country—including the Commander in Chief—collectively lost their minds telling them to shut up and sit down? Trump even called for them to be fired for this. Now, because these folks were ignored and told to shut up during their peaceful protests, the inevitable non-peaceful protests have begun.

For decades there has been a perfect storm brewing in this country as minorities and poor people have their doors kicked in and are terrorized by cops during botched raids for substances deemed illegal by the state and watch helplessly as their family members die in video after video at the hands of cops. Now, we have record unemployment, lockdowns, cops murdering people on video and facing no immediate charges, and those in charge sit at the top and point fingers.

Because the system will always refuse to accept responsibility for the situation it has forced onto the people, the blame game always comes next. Instead of realizing the error of their ways, government is now blaming the riots on Antifa, White Nationalists, the Alt-right, “thugs,” and any other scapegoat they can find to blame besides taking responsibility. They are even blaming Russia now. You cannot make this up.

Naturally, this will never lead to any positive change. It will only prolong suffering, create more divide, and perpetuate a system of injustice for decades to come. Those who want to incite peaceful change, however, have been pushing these ideas out for a long time. Now, people may finally listen.

To lower the likelihood of future chaos, America’s system of law enforcement needs radical change. Instead of threatening to execute suspected looters with no due process—the discussion we should be having right now is how to fix this broken system. It is not difficult, it is based in logic and reason, and its effects would be significantly felt almost overnight.

Over the years, TFTP has been proposing these solutions and below we have compiled a list of five main actions that could affect this much needed change, right now.

The first and most significant solution to this pain and suffering would be to end the war on drugs—today. Legalize every substance out there.

Richard Nixon, in his effort to silence black people and antiwar activists, brought the War on Drugs into full force in 1973. He then signed Reorganization Plan No. 2, which established the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Over the course of five decades, this senseless war has waged on. At a cost of over $1 trillion—ruining and ending countless lives in the process—America’s drug war failed, miserably, and has created a drug problem that is worse now than ever before.

This is no coincidence.

For years, those of us who’ve been paying attention have seen who profits from this inhumane war—the police state and cartels.

The reason why the drug war actually creates a drug and violence problem is simple. And those who profit most from the drug war—drug war enforcers and cartels—all know it. When the government makes certain substances illegal, it does not remove the demand. Instead, the state creates crime by pushing the sale and control of these substances into the illegal black markets. All the while, demand remains constant.

We can look at the prohibition of alcohol and the subsequent mafia crime wave that ensued as a result as an example. The year 1930, at the peak of prohibition, happened to be the deadliest year for police in American history. 300 police officers were killed, and innumerable poor people slaughtered as the state cracked down on drinkers.

Outlawing substances does not work.

Criminal gangs form to protect sales territory and supply lines. They then monopolize the control of the constant demand. Their entire operation is dependent upon police arresting people for drugs because this grants them a monopoly on their sale.

It is incredibly racist too. The illegality of drug possession and use is what keeps the low-level users and dealers in and out of the court systems, and most of these people are poor black men. As Dr. Ron Paul has pointed out, black people are more likely to receive a harsher punishment for the same drug crime as a white person.

This revolving door of creating and processing criminals fosters the phenomenon known as Recidivism. Recidivism is a fundamental concept of criminal justice that shows the tendency of those who are processed into the system and the likelihood of future criminal behavior.

The War on Drugs takes good people and turns them into criminals every single minute of every single day. The system is set up in such a way that it fans the flames of violent crime by essentially building a factory that turns out violent criminals.

It also creates unnecessary police interactions—disproportionately carried out on black people—which leads to resentment, harassment, civil rights violations, and even death. When drugs are legal, there are far fewer doors to kick in, fines to collect, profit prisons to fill, and money to steal.

Secondly, we need to end qualified immunity for police.

When it comes to police accountability, one overarching question remains. ‘Do we want to live in a society whereby law enforcement officials can completely violate a person’s constitutional rights and get away with it?’ For our society to be free, the answer to that question must be a resounding, powerful, unwavering, ‘Hell No!’

Unfortunately, however, this is the case most of the time thanks to law enforcement personnel’s use and abuse of Qualified Immunity.

For those who may be unaware, qualified immunity is a legal doctrine in United States federal law that shields government officials from being sued for discretionary actions performed within their official capacity, unless their actions violated “clearly established” federal law or constitutional rights.

The Supreme Court created qualified immunity in 1982. With that novel invention, the court granted all government officials immunity for violating constitutional and civil rights unless the victims of those violations can show that the rights were “clearly established.”

As Anya Bidwell points out, although innocuous sounding, the clearly established test is a legal obstacle nearly impossible to overcome. It requires a victim to identify an earlier decision by the Supreme Court, or a federal appeals court in the same jurisdiction holding that precisely the same conduct under the same circumstances is illegal or unconstitutional. If none exists, the official is immune. Whether the official’s actions are unconstitutional, intentional or malicious is irrelevant to the test.

An example of this would be the family of George Floyd attempting to seek compensation for his death. Because there has never been a “clearly established” case of a cop kneeling on a man’s neck until he dies being declared unconstitutional, a judge in Minnesota could easily dismiss their case.

It is essentially a get out of jail free card for cops and it perpetuates the problem of police violence by giving bad cops a free pass.

After removing a cop’s ability to trample rights without consequence, it is time to hold them liable. That’s where personal liability insurance comes in.

As the Free Thought Project has reported extensively, police officers, even when found at fault for their abusive actions, are almost never held personally liable. It is the taxpayers who foot the bill. However, all that can change overnight by requiring cops to carry personal liability insurance.

Imagine, for a moment, the result of all police officers being held personally liable for their actions and forced to pay their victims. In nearly every other profession on the planet, if someone hurts someone else while on the job, they are held liable — personally. Why can’t cops carry personal liability insurance just like doctors?

As instances of police brutality and police killings continue to be exposed, there is no doubt that the US is in dire need of reform. The simple requirement for police to be insured for personal liability is an easy fix—especially to remove repeat offenders from the force.

All too often, when a tragic death such as George Floyd occurs, later—as was the case with Derek Chauvin—we find out that the officer should have never been given a badge and a gun in the first place because of their past. However, insurance companies, who can’t fleece the taxpayers to pay for problem cops, would have to come out of pocket to pay for them and would make sure that these officers are uninsurable.

If the officer becomes uninsurable, the officer becomes unhirable—simple as that.

There are likely many cops out there right now who would be denied insurance coverage by any company, due to their track records. A requirement for personal liability insurance would, quite literally, weed out problem officers—almost overnight.

The fourth solution to preventing police brutality and violence would be to bring predatory policing to a halt.

All too often we hear the ridiculous statement from the police apologist crowd saying, “If you don’t break the law, you have nothing to worry about.”

However, that statement couldn’t be further from the truth.

Former NSA official William Binney sums this myth up quite accurately, “The problem is, if they think they’re not doing anything that’s wrong, they don’t get to define that. The central government does.”

Attorney Harvey Silverglate argues that the average American commits three felonies a day without even knowing it. Most of these crimes have no victim either—like possessing marijuana, driving a car with dark windows, or a burned out license plate light.

While most everyone in America commits these same infractions designed for revenue collection instead of safety, most of the people targeted by police for these crimes are the poor, minorities, and the mentally ill.

As the 2014 death of Mike Brown in Ferguson exposed, in 2013, African-Americans accounted for 86 percent of traffic stops, while making up only 63 percent of Ferguson’s population.

For those too poor to pay their tickets, routine traffic stops in Ferguson ended up in repeated imprisonment due to mounting fines. Ferguson was running a de facto debtors’ prison.

Revenue collection, persecution of the poor, and debtor’s prisons take place in every county, in every city, across every state. This institutionalized cruelty is little more than a day’s work for the millions of bureaucrats involved in the racket.

Sadly, until this system of wealth extraction is defunded or brought to a halt through radical policy changes, cases of cops preying on the poor will continue at an ever increasing rate until the whole country is one big prison—or, burned to the ground.

Lastly, we should end the monopoly that American police have on law enforcement.

Simply put, police officers can be corrupt, kill with impunity, and are rarely held accountable because Americans have no other choice. We are stuck with them. In any other job market on the planet, if they had a death toll of 1,000 Americans a year, they would be out of business overnight. However, because cops have a monopoly on law enforcement in America, the death toll keeps rising.

By allowing competition in law enforcement, the incentives for policing would drastically shift. Violent police departments would be fired and replaced with less violent ones. Cops would have an incentive to serve their communities by solving real crimes like rape and murder instead of kidnapping and caging people for victimless crimes.

If this sounds like a pipe dream to you, then you’ve probably never heard of Dale Brown.

Dale Brown of Detroit’s “threat management center” has shown that crime can be stopped and lives can be saved by independent people using nonlethal tactics.

In areas of Detroit where police don’t answer 911 calls, Dale Brown took matters into his own hands and started taking those calls himself, and because Dale was not “above the law” as police officers claim to be, he had to solve these crimes without hurting people, because he would actually be held accountable for his actions.

Yes, businesses pay for these services. However, as a side effect of providing businesses with security, Dale has also been able to provideservice in poor neighborhoods for free, by financing his business through providing security for high-income areas.

Instead of policing from a place of fear, self-preservation, and extortion, Brown polices through love. He offers of some timeless advice that we could all use right now. “The cornerstone for protection is love, not violence, not guns, not laws, you cannot truly protect anything that you do not love.”

Matt Agorist is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world. Agorist is also the Editor-at-Large at the Free Thought Project. Follow @MattAgorist on TwitterSteemit, and now on Minds. This article was originally featured at The Free Thought Project and is republished with permission.

The State’s Priority Is Protecting Itself, Not You

The State’s Priority Is Protecting Itself, Not You

Murray Rothbard pointed out in his book Anatomy of the State how the state is far more punitive against those that threaten the comfort and authority of government institutions and workers than they are against crimes against citizens.

This, according to Rothbard, exposed as a myth the notion that the state exists to protect its citizens.

“We may test the hypothesis that the State is largely interested in protecting itself rather than its subjects by asking: which category of crimes does the State pursue and punish most intensely—those against private citizens or those against itself?” Rothbard wrote.

“The gravest crimes in the State’s lexicon are almost invariably not invasions of private person or property, but dangers to its own contentment, for example, treason, desertion of a soldier to the enemy, failure to register for the draft, subversion and subversive conspiracy, assassination of rulers and such economic crimes against the State as counterfeiting its money or evasion of its income tax.”

Boy how recent events have proven Rothbard right.

For weeks, we saw police aggressively pursuing and punishing peaceful people merely violating arbitrary lockdown orders to go surfing, cut hair, or host a child’s play date.

But in the first nights of the George Floyd protests, police allowed rioters to run amok destroying property, with political leaders dismissing the damage as unimportant.

This stark contrast in police responses dramatically underscores Rothbard’s point.

Take the first nights of rioting in Minneapolis. As reported by the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, the source of the “police stand-down order that allowed his own city to burn,” merely “shrugged off responsibility and minimized the damage.” Moreover, according to the report, “Frey kept repeating that the destruction was ‘just brick and mortar.’”

And consider the example of Raleigh, North Carolina Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown, who said:

When the greater risk is of injury to the officer, and I had five injured last night – a building? A window? A door? The property that was in it can easily be replaced. But for a person who has had officers shot. And more recently than not, I will not put an officer in harm’s way to protect the property inside of a building. Because insurance is most likely going to cover that as well but that officer’s safety is of the utmost importance.

Got that? The officer’s safety is the primary concern, not the property of citizens. Agents of the state whose sole job is supposedly to protect the people and their property instead refuse to do their job at the first hint of danger.

Worse still, as Ryan McMaken pointed out in a recent article at Mises.org, “A failure to protect taxpaying citizens from violence and crime in a wide variety of situations is standard operating procedure for police departments that are under no legal obligation to protect anyone, and where ‘officer safety’ is the number one priority.”

McMaken further notes that it is “now a well-established legal principle in the United States that police officers and police departments are not legally responsible for refusing to intervene in cases where private citizens are in imminent danger or even in the process of being victimized.”

Police absence during riots is nothing new. As McMaken wrote: “During the 2014 riots that followed the police killing of Michael Brown, for example, shopkeepers were forced to hire private security, and many had to rely on armed volunteers for protection from looters. ‘There’s no police,’ one Ferguson shopkeeper told Fox News at the time. ‘We trusted the police to keep it peaceful; they didn’t do their job.”’

As the violence of the riots intensified, mayors instructed police forces in cities across the nation to step up their presence.

But their initial reactions are the most telling.

The contrast between police actions against peaceful lockdown “violators” and the rioters is striking. The instincts of the political class was to haul mothers in parks and hair stylists away in handcuffs, while standing down and allowing private property owned by citizens to burn.

The former involved disobeying a government order, an act which would threaten the perceived authority, no matter how arbitrary, of the state. The latter involved violation and destruction of citizens’ property.

As Rothbard would have predicted, the state was far more interested in preserving the illusion of its authority than the property of its citizens.

Putting a tragic, but fine, point to Rothbard’s point: George Floyd was choked to death by a police officer sent to detain him for the “crime” of using a counterfeit $20 bill to buy cigarettes.

The state is not us. It does not exist to protect our person or property. It exists first and foremost for its own benefit and to exert power and control over its subjects.

Events of the past several weeks should make this crystal clear.

Bradley Thomas is creator of the website Erasethestate.com and is a libertarian activist who enjoys researching and writing on the freedom philosophy and Austrian economics. Follow him on twitter, @erasestate

Why Its Hard To Fire Abusive Cops

Why Its Hard To Fire Abusive Cops

What does it take to fire a cop? In comparison to several other high-profile cases in which a police officer has killed someone on video, things have moved remarkably fast in the George Floyd case. The other four officers involved in his arrest were fired from the Minneapolis Police Department the following day. By comparison,

  • Fellow Minnesota officer Jeronimo Yanez, who on July 6, 2016, shot and killed Philando Castille in his vehicle after Castille informed him that he was armed, was not relieved until after he was acquitted for manslaughter and reckless discharge of a firearm on May 30, 2017. He was given a $48,500 buyout to leave the St. Anthony department.
  • Cleveland officer Timothy Loehmann, who shot twelve-year-old Tamir Rice on November 22, 2014, was also fired on May 30, 2017. However, his firing was due to withholding information on his job application rather than killing a child who held an airsoft gun.
  • NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo, who killed Eric Garner over not paying taxes on cigarettes, was not fired until August 19, 2019, a full five years after the latter’s death on July 17, 2014. He plans to file an appeal to get his job back.
  • Philip Brailsford, who shot Daniel Shaver while he lay prone in the hallway of a hotel in Mesa, Arizona, on January 18, 2016, was fired in March of that year. However, he was reinstated in August 2018 for forty-two days in order that he could be medically retired for PTSD (due to his shooting of Shaver) and receive a $2,500 monthly pension.

What I would like to emphasize here, however, is that a police officer being fired is often not the end of the story. Even though the officers involved in Floyd’s death have been fired, they may not stay fired. Many officers, through their collective bargaining agreements and statutes, enjoy the right to appeal their termination to independent arbitration, which often results in their reinstatement.

Mark Iris, a researcher at Northwestern, studied years’ worth of police arbitration decisions in Chicago and Houston and found that in both cities arbitrators overturned disciplinary decisions half the time. Tyler Adams analyzed every published arbitration decision regarding a police officer’s discharge between 2011 and 2015, finding them overturned 46.7 percent of the time. One notable finding from Adams’s research is that an officer’s disciplinary record was raised by one or both parties in nearly every analyzed decision, with those with positive work histories being more likely to be reinstated than those who without them. A potential difficulty with this is that many police union contracts require that misconduct be removed from an officer’s record after a certain period. According to Stephen Rushin’s analysis of one hundred seventy-eight of the largest cities’ police union contracts, eighty-seven (including Minneapolis’s) contain such provisions. Some, such as that of Columbus, Ohio, even prohibit the use of an officer’s history as a factor in determining the propriety of disciplinary action in later investigations.

The ability to appeal to arbitrators has led to many questionable reinstatements. One was Pittsburgh officer Paul Abel, who on one night in 2008 consumed four beers and two shots of liquor. After leaving his wife’s birthday party, Abel claimed to have been sucker-punched in his car while at a stoplight. He retrieved his Glock from the trunk of his car and drove in pursuit of his attacker. Driving around the block, he spotted Kaleb Miller, whom he knew from the neighborhood and believed to be the person who had punched him. Abel then pistol-whipped Miller on his neck and accidentally shot him in the hand. Witnesses testified that the assailant who punched Abel was not Miller. Despite being arrested and fired, Paul Abel successfully appealed his termination. In this respect, Abel is not alone among Pittsburgh police officers:

In December 2009, Eugene1It is interesting to note that Paul Abel and Eugene Hlavac were, respectively, the ninth and first most highly paid employees of the city of Pittsburgh in 2012, according to the Pittsburgh Business Times. was accused of slapping his ex-girlfriend (and his son’s mother) so hard that he dislocated her jaw. And in November 2010, Garrett Brown was accused of running two delivery-truck drivers off the road in a fit of rage—an allegation similar to those made against Brown in at least one other late-night traffic encounter.

Each of these men, who were all Pittsburgh Police officers at the time of the incidents, shares a common experience: They all were fired, charged criminally, cleared of those charges…and then got their jobs back through arbitration. And they’re not alone. Nine officers were fired by the city between 2009 and 2013, but five of those terminations were overturned by an arbitrator….In cases where terminations were appealed by the police union through arbitration, officers got their jobs back close to 70 percent of the time.

We should expect that the officers involved in the arrest and killing of George Floyd will also appeal their termination. Should they be unsuccessful in this, however, they may be able to find employment as police officers elsewhere. Although most states have some kind of standardized training and licensing of police officers, decertification of fired officers can be notoriously difficult, leading to the phenomenon of the “wandering officer” who goes from department to department. I will discuss this in a future post.

Tate Fegley is a 2018 Mises Institute Fellow, and winner of the 2018 Grant Aldrich Prize for Best Graduate Student paper at the Austrian Economics Research Confernce. He is currently a graduate student at George Mason University. His CV can be found at TateFegley.com. This article was originally featured at the Ludwig von Mises Institute and is republished with permission.

Defense Secretary Esper Calls on States to ‘Dominate the Battlespace’

Defense Secretary Esper Calls on States to ‘Dominate the Battlespace’

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper used the term “battlespace” to describe protests in US cities in a phone call with governors on Monday. “I think the sooner that you mass and dominate the battlespace, the quicker this dissipates and we can get back to the right normal,” Esper said.

Over 17,000 troops in 24 National Guard jurisdictions have been activated to deal with the civil unrest sparked by the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. The troops are also being used to enforce curfews across the country. More than 40 cities have set curfews in place.

President Trump also spoke with the nation’s governors on Monday and called on the states to “dominate.”

“The president says he wants to dominate the streets with National Guard, with a police presence,” White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said at a briefing on Monday, explaining the president’s comments.

In the phone call, Trump also said he was putting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley “in charge” of the protest response. Gen. Milley is technically the highest-ranking military official in the country. It is not yet clear exactly what his role will be.

“General Milley is here who’s head of Joint Chiefs of Staff, a fighter, a warrior, and a lot of victories and no losses. And he hates to see the way it’s being handled in the various states. And I’ve just put him in charge,” Trump said.

Taking things a step further than bringing in the National Guard, Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) called on President Trump to invoke the 1807 Insurrection Act, which would allow the president to deploy active-duty troops to cities across the country. The act was last invoked in 1992 as a response to protests and looting in Los Angeles after the Rodney King incident.

“If local law enforcement is overwhelmed and needs backup, let’s see how tough these Antifa terrorists are when they’re facing off with the 101st Airborne Division,” Cotton said on Twitter. President Trump retweeted Cotton and said, “100% Correct. Thank you Tom!”

Press Secretary McEnany said the Insurrection Act is an option for Trump. “The Insurrection Act, it’s one of the tools available, whether the president decides to pursue that, that’s his prerogative,” McEnany told reporters.

Speaking at the White House Monday evening, President Trump said, “if a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.”

Trump went on to address his plan to deal with protests in Washington DC, demonstrations that drove the president to seek shelter in an underground bunker on Friday. “As we speak, I am dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel, and law enforcement officers to stop the rioting, looting, vandalism, assaults, and the wanton destruction of property,” Trump said, speaking of measures he is taking in Washington.

This article was originally featured at Antiwar.com and is republished with permission.

Beyond George Floyd: A Look at the 400 Americans Killed By Police in 2020

Beyond George Floyd: A Look at the 400 Americans Killed By Police in 2020

As the nation reels from the horrifying murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN, it is important to remember that there were more than 400 others who’ve lost their lives at the hands of America’s police force. Like many of the folks who had their last moments alive captured on video as they were gunned down or beaten to death, their lives mattered. Sadly, however, their deaths—which were no less or more significant than Floyd’s—spark no protests and are swept under the rug.

Earlier this month, TFTP reported on the story of 42-year-old Michael Ramos whose death was caught on video. Just before he was shot, Ramos had his hands in the air and showed police he was unarmed. Riots never ensued.

“We went back and searched the area, we brought in K-9s that are trained to find firearms and searched the area, but there was no firearm located,” Austin Police Chief Brian Manley confirmed earlier this month.

“Mike Ramos does not appear to threaten but ends up dead. There’s got to be a better way,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said in a statement at the time. “I’m very disturbed.”

Before Ramos, a friend of the family of 20-year-old Jesse Cedillo shared a hard to watch video with the Free Thought Project showing his last moments alive. While being pursued by police, Cedillo appeared to have his hands in the air before a Pueblo Police officer opened fire on him, shooting a total of 13 rounds, including several after he had fallen to the ground and was not moving. Cedillo was no angel, but he did not deserve to be executed.

In January, William Green, 43, of Washington, D.C., was shot seven times by Cpl. Michael Owen Jr., a 10-year Prince George’s County Police force veteran. Green was in handcuffs and seat belted into the officer’s cruiser, posing no threat whatsoever, when Owen opened fire on him, murdering Green in cold blood.

Before Green there was Randall Goodale, also murdered in January, who was killed in his own home and his death covered up by cops. As TFTP reported at the time, on Jan. 13 police were serving Goodale with an arrest warrant for felon in possession of a handgun. Police claimed that when officers pulled up, Goodale “started ramming into occupied police vehicles.”

At an interview on the scene of the crime that day, SAPD Chief William McManus did not stutter when he said, “Well, he was ramming the cars, for one. And there were officers in the vehicles whose lives were being threatened by that.”

But this simply wasn’t true at all. Goodale’s vehicle never rammed the cars until after cops killed him and he either fell on the gear shift or the accelerator. Also, the cops weren’t even in the vehicles.

What actually happened is clear from the video. Police are seen rolling up to Goodale, who was reportedly working on his truck in the driveway. Within seconds of arriving, police open fire on him—executing him in broad daylight.

The cases are endless and the victims are often innocent—even children.

While some of the citizens who’ve been killed by cops were armed and dangerous and likely deserved it, others were innocent, unarmed, and include small children. Daniel Shaver—who was killed by police in 2016—was one of these people whose life was brought to a screeching halt as he begged on his knees for police not to shoot him. Despite being innocent and unarmed, this father of three was murdered in cold blood by Philip Brailsford who was never held accountable and allowed to retire from the police force with his pension.

Jeremy Mardis was another one of these citizens who was gunned down in cold blood by two killer cops. Mardis was just 6-years-old when he was murdered by these killer cops—one of whom was released last year after serving less than two years for his role in this innocent child’s death—that included putting bullet holes in him.

The list goes on. Yet despite its increasing length, most American citizens think that reining in America’s deadly police problem is somehow “unpatriotic” or “un-American.” Instead of the right realizing the threat to freedom caused by cops who can kill thousands with impunity, they blame the left. Instead of the left realizing the threat to freedom caused by cops who kill with impunity, most of them blame guns.

The result of this complacency and failure to address the actual problem has been less freedom and more killing.

Thanks to independent watchdog groups who have decided to document this number on their own, we have a total number of citizens killed by police and its total is staggering. Given that America has roughly 765,000 sworn police officers, that means the police-against-citizen kill rate is more than 145 per 100,000.

Pew StatsThe police kill rate is nearly 30 times that of the average citizen, yet somehow people still call for disarming citizens and say nothing about the police. And no, the citizens are not becoming more violent. In fact, humanity is at its safest time in history—ever—and, in spite of the lunatic terrorists shooting up public places, violent crimes as well as all crime continues to drop, significantly.

The bottom line is that George Floyd’s life mattered. The outrage over his death is justified and people should be in the streets. This is a natural reaction to watching agents of the state murder a handcuffed unarmed man in broad daylight and the only consequence they faced was losing their jobs. But the 400 other folks whose lives came to an abrupt halt in the first five months of 2020 also mattered.

Every unnecessary killing by police should outrage you. Floyd’s, Ramos’, Goodale’s, Green’s, and the countless others who have lost their lives to senseless acts of police violence all had lives that mattered. We need to start acting like it. If we want to truly want to change this paradigm of police officers shooting first and asking questions later, we need to start talking solutions.

Imagine for a moment, the result of all police officers being held personally liable for their actions and forced to pay their victims. In nearly every other profession on the planet, if someone hurts someone else while on the job, they are held liable — personally. Why can’t cops carry personal liability insurance just like doctors?

As instances of police brutality and police killings continue to be exposed, like Floyd’s, there is no doubt that the US is in dire need of reform. The simple requirement for police to be insured for personal liability is an easy fix — especially to remove repeat offenders from the force.

All too often, when a tragic death such as Tamir Rice occurs, months later we find out that the officer should have never been given a badge and a gun in the first place because of their past. However, insurance companies, who can’t fleece the taxpayers to pay for problem cops, would have to come out of pocket to pay for them and would make sure that these officers are uninsurable.

If the officer becomes uninsurable, the officer becomes unhirable—simple as that.

101308772 2588051481513227 5089621071364096000 NThere are likely many cops out there right now who would be denied insurance coverage by any company, due to their track records. In fact, the cop who put his knee on George Floyd’s neck until he died, Derek Chauvin, was one of these cops. Throughout his career, he had a sustained record of misconduct and multiple deadly force incidents. Yet his department gave him a pass…until he killed Floyd.

A requirement for personal liability insurance would, quite literally, weed out problem officers — almost overnight. And, had it been in place in Minneapolis, George Floyd may still be alive today.

Matt Agorist is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world. Agorist is also the Editor-at-Large at The Free Thought Project. Follow @MattAgorist on TwitterSteemit, and now on Minds. This article was originally featured at The Free Thought Project and is republished with permission. 

How Members Of ‘Gun Culture’ View The Ahmaud Arbery Killing

How Members Of ‘Gun Culture’ View The Ahmaud Arbery Killing

There has been another controversial shooting of an unarmed man. The Ahmaud Arbery case is currently being litigated on social media by the usual suspects who plan on using this to further their “pet” agenda. Whether it be the “law and order” crowd who have their statistics at the ready to copy and paste, or the “race-baiters” who make their living off incidents like this, they are both champing at the bit to make their point. 

At this point, many libertarian/voluntaryists/anarchists may be confused as how to interpret the incident. Some may have already sided with Arbery, and some may be on “Team McMichael.” When you are trying to interpret an incident that happened within a statist framework, it is easy to get your thinking clouded.  

With all of that being said, the libertarian/anarchist/voluntaryist crowd looks to a future where there is no monopoly on force and violence, one where property rights backed by the non-aggression principle are legitimate as opposed to statutory mandates made by elected officials who suffer no consequences for their actions and mistakes; one where customs and cultural norms would be the status quo rather than diktats handed down from above. 

In the case of people grabbing their guns and hunting down someone they suspect of committing a crime, there already exists a subculture in the United States that has unwritten rules when it comes to such incidences which they follow to the letter. This author’s home state of Georgia has one of the largest gun forums on the internet that includes well over 40,000 members. The members overwhelmingly lean conservative and pro-Trump. Some members would call themselves libertarian. There are even a few who fly the democrat banner proudly, yet are adamantly pro-gun rights (yes, weird).  

Before we get into what this author has witnessed as to gun culture’s take on this situation, it is important to point out that the overwhelming majority of these same people took George Zimmerman’s side in the Trayvon Martin case before, during and after. That is good context for what is mentioned going forward. 

‘An Unwritten Rule’ 

“Don’t pull your gun unless you absolutely have to and only to defend life.”  

The “gun culture” in Georgia is strict about this. A man on the forum mentioned above once bragged that he was in downtown Atlanta when a homeless man approached him to beg for change. He crowed that he pulled his gun and waved it at the homeless man causing him to run off. The braggard was subjected to an onslaught of insults. The majority of them mentioned that he was not in fear for his life and that a gun should never be used to intimidate.  

It’s true that just pulling a gun can make a mugger run away. But in the case of serious gun owners we only pull our gun to protect life. If you pull it because of a robbery, you should be justified in pulling the trigger. Choosing to not pull the trigger is fine, your prerogative, but make sure the event justifies deadly force. 

This rule should be important to people who center their thinking and worldview on the non-aggression principle. Threatening and coercing is what the State does. If it’s not appropriate for a State actor, why is it for the individual? 

What Are These People Saying? 

It’s important here to give examples of how most in this subculture are commenting. This first quote is from a former police officer this author has known for years. Mind you, he left the job because he realized he was doing more harm than good. He explains: 

If there is no more to the story then the two should be prosecuted and jailed for life. The guy was clearly not trying to confront them. He runs miles and miles every day and lived nearby. However, one thing gives me pause is that even The NY Times is hedging somewhat. They stated that the man was seen running from inside a home under partial construction, the home owner called 911. BUT even that wouldn’t constitute the use of deadly force in this case. If this was a LEO shoot, he would have been charged.  

Another commenter: 

The kid wasn’t carrying anything. Those two confronted and went looking for a fight. Definitely not justified in my meaningless opinion. Real sad. 

Again: 

Based on that video, the shooters ought not stand in the sunshine anytime soon. But we know what ‘should’ happen and what does happen aren’t always related. 

Encore:  

Maybe he was takin a leak…? I dunno, this d-bag PI wannabe and his kid sound like some straight up cowbois ta me… “citizens arrest”, and armed pursuit lol… I wouldnta stopped either. 

They keep coming: 

I saw zero justification for use of force in that situation regardless of the jogger’s previous actions. This looks to be some straight up redneck justice profiling bull****. One has to wonder if they’d just shot him in the back had he tried to keep running. 

More: 

I don’t give a damn what the circumstance was. Based on the video those scumbags murdered that young man. 

One last comment: 

I prefer to let relevant and current facts determine the circumstance rather than digging up old articles to try and sling mud to make my predilections justified. The fact he was a high school athlete or attended college or what his specific career aspirations were, are irrelevant to the FACT he was unarmed and shot dead by two redneck wanna be cowboys who thought they had an in on the cover up with one of their former bosses the DA. Their plan sucked, now they get to win stupid prizes. Won’t bring him back but he died pretty quickly. They get to sleep with one eye open for a long, long, time… I’m sure they’ll be well received in a south Georgia prison. 

If you happen to be making excuses for the father and son, and the arguments above are being thrown in your direction, you are probably dealing with someone in a subculture with rules that obviously value safety and justice. As a reminder, these aren’t even big “L” Libertarians for the most part, but run of the mill conservatives and constitutionalists. They just have a set of guidelines that they live by and consider those to be more important that what the actual law is, while at the same time, abiding by it. 

Why is this something that libertarians/anarchists/voluntaryists should care about? Those groups seek a society without a central power. Under this structure customs and unwritten rules backed by the non-aggression principle will be the norm. It is beneficial to look at how subcultures, especially ones that are enforcing the NAP without realizing it, now operate. 

It is readily apparent that while many liberty lovers proclaim their support for gun rights, they are ignorant of what the culture is. A lot of people I know don’t own firearms and It is incumbent upon those of us educated on these customs to communicate them properly. They are not vigilantes who if they believe a thief is in our neighborhood will grab their weapons and go on the hunt. No, that is not how it’s done. The idea that you don’t pull your weapon until you absolutely have to exists for the reasons stated above. They are logical, and NAP consistent. People should look at what the McMichaels did, and ask if it would be acceptable to them in a libertarian social order. The ideas behind NAP-based self-defense already exist and are practiced. It would do many who think they know what those in gun culture are all about to spend some time learning from those living it. Your life and freedom in the current society may depend upon it. 

Supreme Court Rules Against Fourth Amendment

Supreme Court Rules Against Fourth Amendment

The Supreme Court handed down another opinion eroding the Fourth Amendment in a case that should have never gone to the federal court.

Kansas v. Glover revolves around a traffic stop by Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Mehrer. He pulled Charles Glover over after running his license plate and finding that Glover had a suspended driver’s license. Glover entered a motion to suppresses evidence gathered during the stop, arguing there was no reasonable suspicion of an actual crime. The deputy stopped the car based on the assumption that the registered owner was probably driving.

The district court granted the motion. An appellate court overturned the lower court. The Kansas Supreme Court reversed again, holding that the stop violated the Fourth Amendment. According to the Kansas Supreme Court, Mehrer did not have reasonable suspicion to pull the vehicle over because his inference that Glover was behind the wheel amounted to “only a hunch.” The court further held the deputy’s “hunch” involved “applying and stacking unstated assumptions that are unreasonable without further factual basis.”

Kansas prosecutors appealed to the Supreme Court and it overturned the Kansas Supreme Court in an 8-1 decision. Writing for the majority, Justice Clarence Thomas said Mehrer “drew the commonsense inference that Glover was likely the driver of the vehicle, which provided more than reasonable suspicion to initiate the stop … The fact that the registered owner of a vehicle is not always the driver of the vehicle does not negate the reasonableness of [the officer’s] inferences.”

In her dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote that the majority opinion “destroys Fourth Amendment jurisprudence that requires individualized suspicion.”

Reason lamented the decision by highlighting Sotomayor’s dissent.

Sotomayor was not wrong.

But this case was not a federal case. It should have never gone to the Supreme Court. And it wouldn’t have except for the bastardization of the 14th Amendment known as the “incorporation doctrine.”

The Supreme Court invented the incorporation doctrine out of thin air 57 years after the ratification of the 14th Amendment to apply the federal Bill of Rights to state governments.

A lot of civil libertarians like the incorporation doctrine because they believe the federal courts will protect our liberty from overreaching, onerous state and local governments. In theory, the incorporation doctrine empowers federal courts to police the states in order to stop state governments from violating individual rights. In practice, it centralizes power at the federal level and allows the Supreme Court to apply liberty-destroying decisions to the entire United States.

The theory falls apart because federal courts rarely hand down decisions that expand liberty. They almost always increase government power and place limitations on individual rights.

Kansas v. Glover provides an example of the tendency in the extreme. The state court handed down a decision that protected liberty and restrained government, only to be overruled by the central authority.

Sadly, the Kansas Supreme Court opened the door to federal intervention by basing its decision on the Fourth Amendment of the federal Bill of Rights. It should have rested its case on the Kansas state constitution. The state bill of rights § 15 reads as follows:

“Search and seizure. The right of the people to be secure in their persons and property against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall be inviolate; and no warrant shall issue but on probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or property to be seized.”

There was no need to invoke the Fourth Amendment. But the Fourth Amendment got invoked because thanks to the incorporation doctrine, everything now qualifies as a federal case.

So, why do so many liberty-minded people possess this impulse to centralize power? What drives their fixation on monopolizing decision-making at the highest level?

In a nutshell – power. They operate on the misguided notion that they can someday gain control of the levers of power and impose liberty top-down.

The problem is it never happens. Centralized government is antithetical to individual liberty. It will never care about you.

And you will never control it.

“But, what if the state courts get it wrong?”  they plead. “State and local governments can be just as tyrannical as the federal government,” they insist. “Are you saying we just have to put up with state or local tyranny?”

Fair questions. State courts often do get it wrong. The judicial branches of both state and federal governments typically side with the government when it comes to the extent of the government’s powers. But a bad outcome at the state level only applies to that state. A bad outcome at the Supreme Court ends up as a judicial precedent that applies all across the entire United States.

Kansas v. Glover illustrates the worst-case scenario. In this instance, the state court got it right. It was a win for liberty for Kansans. But thanks to the incorporation doctrine and the Supreme Court, we now have a judicial precedent that diminishes the Fourth Amendment and applies sets the precedent every single police department in the US will now follow.

We just centralized our way to another loss of liberty.

Centralizing government in the name of liberty will always fail. You might get a few crumbs from the table now and then. The Supreme Court will occasionally issue an opinion that protects liberty. But most of the time, it will hand down garbage that empowers government at the expense of your rights.

This article was originally featured at the Tenth Amendment Center and is republished with permission.

Essential, Yet Illegal?

Essential, Yet Illegal?

The U.S. federal government does a bunch of things that mystify me. They cannot discriminate in conferring benefits based on race, oh, unless it is affirmative action. Government agents cannot search you or your home without first earning a warrant, unless they think they should. I’ve even accepted there is alternative truths: you can keep your doctor, and Bill didn’t inhale. But, in the last few days, it seems they overwhelmed by imagination.

In these days of coronavirus lockdown, mine are spent in cell #107 at the federal prison at Terre Haute, Indiana. I am serving a sentence of life imprisonment, without the possibility of parole. In 2002, I was convicted of conspiring to distribute marijuana. I ponder that one quarter mile from here, in Illinois, marijuana distributors are not restrained by the lockdown orders. Instead, they are “essential businesses.” My indictment reads: “The People of the United States of America versus Craig Cesal,” agreed or confederated to distribute marijuana. The final judgment reads life imprisonment. Who got it wrong—the People of the United States or Craig Cesal? The rules governing that review are quickly evolving.

The thirty-three states that consider marijuana marketing an essential business, they carry on without any intervention by the U.S. government, or even by the people of the United States. How can I accept this from my vantage point of being locked in a seven feet by eleven feet prison cell?

While the marijuana purveyors carry on in their marijuana stores, the local county jails are busy identifying prisoners they can release if they determine they are not a danger to the community. Local jails are working to reduce jail populations to staunch the spread of coronavirus. All but violent offenders, including marijuana slingers, are being released, since they are not a threat to anyone. If marijuana proprietors are not a threat to the community, a community made up of the people of the United States, why are taxpayers spending over $50,000 per year to keep me in this box?

A guy recently left here. He had been caught dumping his “Honey Wagon,” a tanker truck that sucks out septic tanks, along a dirt road in Kentucky. Wouldn’t you know it, that road was next to a dried up creek bed, and therefore a federal waterway. The U.S. court sent him here for 30 months. Okay, the people of the United States don’t want 10,000 pounds of poop lying next to their road. I get that.

Next, a guy down the corridor from me was playing with his new laser pointer one night and pointed it at a helicopter. He later learned it was a Homeland Security helicopter, and the fancy night vision equipment within recorded him standing in his backyard doing it. He’ll be here for the next 40 months. Even though the folks don’t want a pile of poop along their road, others don’t want a flash-blinded helicopter pilot over their houses. In contrast, though, depositing roadside excrement and illuminating helicopters are not essential businesses.

I’m not surprised that all these things are being done or by what the media says about it. Instead, I am befuddled over what is not asked. Thousands of prisoners awaiting trial have now been released from jails because they are of no threat. The truant query is why were taxpayers shelling out hard earned cash to hold them there in the first place? Indeed, if they are no danger to the county, why is so much effort being expended to send them to prison?

A sober peek at who is being held in our jails has resulted in thousands being released. Okay, some will commit new crimes upon being freed, but not the bulk of them. If they never really needed to be held in jail, why were they there? As a prisoner, I know most were jailed simply to keep them from having too much access to resources to prepare a vibrant, and too often poignant defense. Jail is a weapon wielded by the government. Until last month, by and large, the people of the United States weren’t allowed oversight as to who is held in jail and why. The outside attention and review has resulted in massive changes to the U.S. jail population.

The same who, what, and why questions should be cut and pasted atop the prison inmate population. About half of the 174,000 federal prisoners are drug offenders, and 17% of those are serving sentences related to marijuana distribution. Those 24,000 inmates conducted essential business—even if they didn’t have the opportunity to pay the requisite tax. This 60-year-old marijuana offender has consumed over $50,000 per year worth of housing, food, insulin, medical care, and more for over eighteen years. Aggregate the cost of prosecution and the people of the United States have spent over a million dollars of their tax payments to keep this essential businessman in prison and away from his family and his tax-paying job.

When the people of the United States are done scouring the jails for people better off released, I suggest they look closely at the 24,000 essential business people in federal prison.

Craig Cesal is serving a sentence of life without the possibility of parole in Indiana’s Terre Haute prison for marijuana-related offenses. He co-owned a towing company that recovered and repaired trucks for a rental company, some of which were used by smugglers to transport marijuana. He graduated from Montini High School in Lombard, Illinois in 1977. His daughter, Lauren, has obtained more than 300,000 signatures on a petition calling for clemency. 

Trump’s Betrayal of Julian Assange

Trump’s Betrayal of Julian Assange

One thing we’ve learned from the Trump Presidency is that the “deep state” is not just some crazy conspiracy theory. For the past three years we’ve seen that deep state launch plot after plot to overturn the election.

It all started with former CIA director John Brennan’s phony “Intelligence Assessment” of Russian involvement in the 2016 election. It was claimed that all 17 US intelligence agencies agreed that Putin put Trump in office, but we found out later that the report was cooked up by a handful of Brennan’s hand-picked agents.

Donald Trump upset the Washington apple cart as presidential candidate and in so doing he set elements of the deep state in motion against him.

One of the things candidate Donald Trump did to paint a deep state target on his back was his repeated praise of Wikileaks, the pro-transparency media organization headed up by Australian journalist Julian Assange. More than 100 times candidate Trump said “I love Wikileaks” on the campaign trail.

Trump loved it when Wikileaks exposed the criminality of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party, as it cheated to deprive Bernie Sanders of the Democratic Party nomination. Wikileaks’ release of the DNC emails exposed the deep corruption at the heart of US politics, and as a candidate Trump loved the transparency.

Then Trump got elected.

The real tragedy of the Trump presidency is nowhere better demonstrated than in Trump’s 180 degree turn away from Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange. “I know nothing about Wikileaks,” he said as president. “It’s really not my thing.”

US pressure and bribes to the Ecuadorian government ended Assange’s asylum and his seven years in a room at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. After his dramatic arrest by London’s Metropolitan Police last April, he has been effectively tortured in British jails at the behest of the US deep state.
Today, Monday the 24th of February, Assange faces an extradition hearing in a UK courthouse. The Trump Administration – led by a man who praised Assange’s work – seeks a show trial of Assange worthy of the worst of the Soviet era. The US is seeking a 175 year prison sentence.

The Trump Administration argues that the Australian Assange should be tried and convicted of espionage against a country of which he is not a citizen. At the same time the Trump Administration argues that the First Amendment does not apply to Assange because he is not an American citizen! So Assange is subject to US law when it comes to publishing information embarrassing to the US deep state but he is not subject to the law of the land – the US Constitution – which protects all journalists and is the backbone of our system of government.

It is ironic that a President Trump who has been victim of so much deep state meddling has done the deep state’s bidding when it comes to Assange and Wikileaks. President Trump should preempt the inevitable US show trial of Assange by granting the journalist blanket pardon under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

The deep state Trump is serving by persecuting Assange is the same deep state that continues to plot Trump’s own ouster. Free Assange!

Reprinted from the Ron Paul Institute.

FDA Expands Ecstasy Access to Veterans with PTSD

FDA Expands Ecstasy Access to Veterans with PTSD

In 2006, Johnathan Lubecky was deployed to Iraq. While fighting for his country, Johnathan faced constant enemy strikes, one of which resulted in a traumatic brain injury. Exposures to the horrors of war resulted in Johnathan developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Tragically, many soldiers share similar experiences. The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs estimates between 11 and 20 percent of veterans serving in the War on Terror develop PTSD. Even for those with no military experience, PTSD is surprisingly common. An estimated 8 percent of the U.S. population (roughly equal in size to the population of Texas) will experience PTSD.

Treating PTSD is challenging, often requiring both medicinal treatment and considerable time spent in therapy. Unfortunately, some patients struggle to relive their traumatic experiences without suffering extreme emotional distress. In these cases, available treatments rarely help.

Many veterans fall into this category.

Read the rest at The Lighthouse.

News Roundup

News Roundup 7/3/20

US News Jeffery Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell has been arrested in New Hampshire by the FBI on charges related to the dead sex trafficker. [Link] Large US corporations are threatening to pull ads from Facebook in an effort to get the social network to censor...

Blog

Cops Kill Man

Well, first they entrapped him on some drug bullshit. Then they killed him. Unarmed, no chance. Then they got away with it. https://youtu.be/CPeufhOU6OQ

Thank Goodness for Matt Taibbi

What this society needs is men and women who can write: It’s the Fourth of July, and revolution is in the air. Only in America would it look like this: an elite-sponsored Maoist revolt, couched as a Black liberation movement whose canonical texts are a corporate...

Hydroxychloroquine Works

Democrats across America will be sad to hear the news that fewer people are dying from the Covid due to the use of Hydroxychloroquine. They will not, however, question how wrong and smug they are and have been on this topic.

Abolish the CDC, Zika Example

From the Post: Four years before the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fumbled the nation’s chance to begin effective early testing for the novel coronavirus, the agency similarly mishandled its efforts to detect another dreaded pathogen. Amid a...

The Scott Horton Show

7/3/20 Tom Woods on How the Pentagon Makes Us Poorer

Scott talks to Tom Woods about his latest free ebook, The Pentagon vs. The Economy. Woods examines the many ways America's military-industrial complex distorts the economy, often applying Frederic Bastiat's principle of "seen vs. unseen" to demonstrate just how many...

Free Man Beyond the Wall

Foreign Policy Focus

Congress Wants Forever Wars

On FPF #513, I discuss the efforts in Congress to prevent Trump from bringing US troops home. After 19 years, there is a chance the US could end our longest war and bring troops home. However, members of Congress are working to pass provisions to the 2021 National...

Elijah McClain, Excited Delirium, and Ketamine

On FPF #512, John Dangelo returns to the show to talk about the murder of Elijah McClain. McClain was walking down the street when someone called the police because he was wearing a ski mask. A police officer confronted him and put him in a chokehold. An EMT gave his...

Trump’s Russia Policy Failed the American People

On FPF #511, Will Porter returns to the show to discuss Trump's failing Russia policy. During the campaign, Trump made it clear that he would able to get along and make deals with Putin. However, once Trump took office, his policy towards Russia became more and more...

The Anti-War War Vet guest John Dangelo

On FPF #510, John Dangelo returns to the show to discuss being a anti-war war vet. John explains he was a Marine reservist when he was deployed to Afghanistan. His experiences there and reading libertarian/antiwar material led to him to becoming antiwar. We talk about...

Don't Tread on Anyone

The Morality of Consent – Murray Rothbard and Lady A

https://youtu.be/-4NwihBCl6g Once concede the power of the people to consent as well as the natural law of “equal freedom from subjection,” and the logical consequence must be anarchism. Murray N. Rothbard Economic Thought Before Adam Smith, p. 279 Minds.com:...

What is Anarchy?

  ***Watch here***: https://www.minds.com/newsfeed/1121253455002247168?referrer=KeithKnightDontTreadOnAnyone     ... anarchism [is] a simple matter of libertarian logic. Murray N. Rothbard Betrayal of the American Right, p. 145   Once concede the...

Year Zero

120: The Strategy of Silence

Tommy discusses a few current events in order to show how the stories are framed to create a binary, and keep citizens at each other's throat. https://traffic.libsyn.com/secure/strangerencounterspodcast/Strategy_of_Silence.mp3

119: Project Manticore w/Ryan Bunting

Ryan Bunting is a newly published author of the dystopian novel Project Manticore. Tommy invited him on to discuss the book, his writing process, and his future endeavors. The conversation progresses into policing in the US, and how the left and right are missing the...

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