Monday, July 22, 2013

The Militarization of America's Police Forces - Part II

In this second of three posts regarding recent stories focusing on the militarization of America's police forces and the resulting consequences, I look at an article that appeared in the Richmond Times Dispatch.

The  story is entitled, "Commit any felonies lately?" Below are a few excerpts from the article.
Elizabeth Daly went to jail over a case of bottled water.

According to the Charlottesville Daily Progress, shortly after 10 p.m. April 11, the University of Virginia student bought ice cream, cookie dough and a carton of LaCroix sparkling water from the Harris Teeter grocery store at the popular Barracks Road Shopping Center. In the parking lot, a half-dozen men and a woman approached her car, flashing some kind of badges. One jumped on the hood. Another drew a gun. Others started trying to break the windows.

Daly understandably panicked. With her roommate in the passenger seat yelling “Go, go, go!” Daly drove off, hoping to reach the nearest police station. The women dialed 911. Then a vehicle with lights and sirens pulled them over, and the situation clarified: The people who had swarmed Daly’s vehicle were plainclothes agents of the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. The agents had thought the sparkling water was a 12-pack of beer.

Did the ABC’s enforcers apologize? Not in the slightest. They charged Daly with three felonies: two for assaulting an officer (her vehicle had grazed two agents; neither was hurt) and one for eluding the police. Last week, the commonwealth’s attorney dropped the charges.
Here's another portion of the article focusing on sidewalk chalk.
Last week, A.J. Marin was arrested in Harrisburg, Pa., for writing in chalk on the sidewalk. Marin was participating in a health care demonstration outside Gov. Tom Corbett’s residence when he wrote, “Governor Corbett has health insurance, we should too.” Authorities charged Marin with writing “a derogatory remark about the governor on the sidewalk.” The horror.

This follows the case of Jeff Olson, who chalked messages such as “Stop big banks” outside branches of Bank of America last year. Law professor Jonathan Turley reports that prosecutors brought 13 vandalism charges against him. Moreover, the judge in the case recently prohibited Olson’s attorney from “mentioning the First Amendment, free speech,” or anything like them during the trial.
The entire article is available here.

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