Battlefield America Is the New Normal: We’re Not in Mayberry Anymore

Police in Ferguson Missouri
“Police” in Ferguson Missouri

By John W. Whitehead
August 29, 2017

If we’re training cops as soldiers, giving them equipment like soldiers, dressing them up as soldiers, when are they going to pick up the mentality of soldiers? If you look at the police department, their creed is to protect and to serve. A soldier’s mission is to engage his enemy in close combat and kill him. Do we want police officers to have that mentality? Of course not.”— Arthur Rizer, former police officer and member of the military

America, you’ve been fooled again.

While the nation has been distracted by a media maelstrom dominated by news of white supremacists, Powerball jackpots, Hurricane Harvey, and a Mayweather v. McGregor fight, the American Police State has been carving its own path of devastation and destruction through what’s left of the Constitution.

We got sucker punched.

First, Congress overwhelmingly passed—and President Trump approved—a law allowing warrantless searches of private property for the purpose of “making inspections, investigations, examinations, and testing.”

For now, the scope of the law is geographically limited to property near the Washington DC Metro system, but mark my words, this is just a way of testing the waters. Under the pretext of ensuring public safety by “inspecting” property in the vicinity of anything that could be remotely classified as impacting public safety, the government could gain access to almost any private property in the country.

Then President Trump, aided and abetted by his trusty Department of Justice henchman Jeff Sessions and to the delight of the nation’s powerful police unions, rolled back restrictions on the government’s military recycling program.

What this means is that police agencies, only minimally deterred by the Obama administration’s cosmetic ban on certain types of military gear, can now go hog-wild.

We’re talking Blackhawk helicopters, machine guns, grenade launchers, battering rams, explosives, chemical sprays, body armor, night vision, rappelling gear, armored vehicles, and tanks.

Clearly, we’re not in Mayberry anymore.

Or if this is Mayberry, it’s Mayberry in The Twilight Zone.

As journalist Benjamin Carlson stresses, “In today’s Mayberry, Andy Griffith and Barney Fife could be using grenade launchers and a tank to keep the peace.”

You remember The Andy Griffith Show, don’t you?

Set in the fictional town of Mayberry, N.C., The Andy Griffith Show portrays the two stars of the show—Sheriff Andy Taylor and his bumbling deputy Barney Fife—as peace officers in the truest sense of the word as opposed to law enforcers.

Both Sheriff Taylor and Deputy Fife dress in khaki uniforms, a far cry from the black, militarized Stormtrooper getups worn by police today. Andy refuses to wear a gun and only allows Barney to wear his gun on the proviso that he keep his single bullet out of the chamber and in his shirt pocket. Most of all, the two lawmen relate to those under their protection as equals, rather than as enemy combatants or inferiors.

Contrast the idyllic Mayberry with the American police state of today, where local police—clad in jackboots, helmets and shields and wielding batons, pepper-spray, stun guns, and assault rifles—have increasingly come to resemble occupying forces in communities across the country.

As Alyssa Rosenberg writes for The Washington Post, “[The Andy Griffith Show] expressed an ideal that has leached out of American pop culture and public policy, to dangerous effect: that the police were part of the communities that they served and shared their fellow citizens’ interests. They were of their towns and cities, not at war with them.”

That’s really what this is about: a war on the American citizenry waged by local law enforcement armed to the teeth with weapons previously only seen on the battlefield

If you thought the militarized police response to Ferguson and Baltimore was bad, brace yourselves.

As investigative journalists Andrew Becker and G.W. Schulz reveal, “Many police, including beat cops, now routinely carry assault rifles. Combined with body armor and other apparel, many officers look more and more like combat troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Thanks to Trump, this transformation of America into a battlefield is only going to get worse.

To be fair, Trump did not create this totalitarian nightmare. However, he has legitimized it and, in so doing, has also accelerated the pace at which we fall deeper into the clutches of outright tyranny.

Everything America’s founders warned against—a standing army that would view and treat American citizens as combatants—is fast becoming the norm. Certainly, this lopsided, top-heavy, authoritarian state of affairs is not the balance of power the founders intended for “we the people.”

Yet in the hands of government agents, whether they are members of the military, law enforcement or some other government agency, these weapons of war have become accepted instruments of tyranny, routine parts of America’s day-to-day life, a byproduct of the rapid militarization of law enforcement over the past several decades.

As Becker and Schulz document in their insightful piece, “Local Cops Ready for War With Homeland Security-Funded Military Weapons”:

In Montgomery County, Texas, the sheriff’s department owns a $300,000 pilotless surveillance drone, like those used to hunt down al Qaeda terrorists in the remote tribal regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. In Augusta, Maine, with fewer than 20,000 people and where an officer hasn’t died from gunfire in the line of duty in more than 125 years, police bought eight $1,500 tactical vests. Police in Des Moines, Iowa, bought two $180,000 bomb-disarming robots, while an Arizona sheriff is now the proud owner of a surplus Army tank.

Under this recycling program, small counties and cities throughout the country have been “gifted” with 20-ton Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles.

MRAPs are built to withstand roadside bombs, a function which seems unnecessary for any form of domestic policing, yet police in Jefferson County, New York, Boise and Nampa, Idaho, as well as High Springs, Florida, have all acquired MRAPs. Police in West Lafayette, Indiana also have an MRAP, valued at half a million dollars.

Universities are getting in on the program as well.

The Ohio State University Department of Public Safety acquired an MRAP, which a university spokesperson said will be used for “officer rescue, hostage scenarios, bomb evaluation,” situations which are not common on OSU’s campus. In fact, it will be used for crowd control at football games.

Almost 13,000 agencies in all 50 states and four U.S. territories participate in the military “recycling” program, and the share of equipment and weaponry gifted each year continues to expand.

In 2011, $500 million worth of military equipment was distributed to law enforcement agencies throughout the country. That number jumped to $546 million in 2012.

Since 1990, $4.2 billion worth of equipment has been transferred from the Defense Department to domestic police agencies through the 1033 program, in addition to various other programs supposedly aimed at fighting the so-called War on Drugs and War on Terror. For example, the Department of Homeland Security has delivered roughly $34 billion to police departments throughout the country since 9/11, ostensibly to purchase more gear for their steady growing arsenals of military weapons and equipment.

Police departments are also receiving grants to create microcosms of the extensive surveillance systems put in place by the federal government in the years since 9/11.

For example, using a $2.6 million grant from the DHS, police in Seattle purchased and setup a “mesh network”throughout the city capable of tracking every Wi-Fi enabled device within range. Police claim it won’t be used for surveillance, but the devices are capable of determining “the IP address, device type, downloaded applications, current location, and historical location of any device that searches for a Wi-Fi signal.”

Now ask yourself: why does a police department which hasn’t had an officer killed in the line of duty in over 125 years in a town of less than 20,000 people need tactical military vests like those used by soldiers in Afghanistan?

Why does a police department in a city of 35,000 people need a military-grade helicopter?

For that matter, what possible use could police at Ohio State University have for acquiring a heavily-armored vehicle intended to withstand IED blasts?

It’s a modern-day Trojan Horse.

Although these federal programs that allow the military to “gift” battlefield-appropriate weapons, vehicles and equipment to domestic police departments at taxpayer expense are being sold to communities as a benefit, the real purpose is to keep the defense industry churning out profits, bring police departments in line with the military, and establish a standing army.

It’s a militarized approach to make-work programs, except in this case, instead of unnecessary busy work to keep people employed, communities across America are finding themselves “gifted” with unnecessary drones, tanks, grenade launchers and other military equipment better suited to the battlefield in order to fatten the bank accounts of the military industrial complex.

Not surprisingly, this trend towards the militarization of domestic police forces has also opened up a new market for military contractors.

You know who gets stuck with the bill for all of this unnecessary military gear, don’t you?

“We the taxpayers,” of course.

First, taxpayers are forced to pay millions of dollars for equipment which the Defense Department purchases from megacorporations only to abandon after a few years. Then taxpayers get saddled with the bill to maintain the costly equipment once it has been acquired by the local police.

It’s like the old adage: “never look a gift horse in the mouth.” The catch is that this gift horse is an expensive and deadly boondoggle.

For instance, although the Tupelo, Miss., police department was “gifted” with a free military helicopter, residents quickly learned that it required “$100,000 worth of upgrades and $20,000 each year in maintenance.”

In addition to being an astounding waste of taxpayer money, this equipping of police with military-grade equipment and weapons also gives rise to a dangerous mindset in which police adopt a warrior-like, more aggressive approach to policing.

The results are deadly.

As a study by researchers at Stanford University makes clear, “When law enforcement receives more military materials — weapons, vehicles and tools — it becomes … more likely to jump into high-risk situations. Militarization makes every problem — even a car of teenagers driving away from a party — look like a nail that should be hit with an AR-15 hammer.”

The danger of giving police high-power toys and weapons is that they will feel compelled to use it in all kinds of situations that would never normally warrant battlefield gear, weapons or tactics.

This “if we have it, we might as well use it” mindset, by the way, is also used to justify assigning SWAT teams to carry out routine law enforcement work such as delivering a warrant. That’s how you end up with SWAT tactics being employed when police are tasked with searching for a stolen koi fish and enforcing barber licensing laws.

Suffice it to say, we’re long past the days of Mayberry when cops were peace officers and recognized their role as public servants, a marked contrast to the climate of entitlement that has cops today acting like overlords and authoritarians.

Change will not come easily.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the police unions are a powerful force and they will not relinquish their power easily. Connect the dots and you’ll find that most, if not all, attempts to cover up police misconduct or sidestep accountability can be traced back to police unions and the police lobby.

Just look at Trump: he’s been on the police unions’ payroll from the moment they endorsed him for president, and he’s paid them back generously by ensuring that police can kill, shoot, taser, abuse and steal from American citizens with impunity.

Still, the responsibility rests with “we the people.”

As author Ta-Nehisi Coates reminds us:

The truth is that the police reflect America in all of its will and fear, and whatever we might make of this country’s criminal justice policy, it cannot be said that it was imposed by a repressive minority. The abuses that have followed from these policies—the sprawling carceral state, the random detention of black people, the torture of suspects—are the product of democratic will. And so to challenge the police is to challenge the American people who send them into the ghettos armed with the same self-generated fears that compelled the people who think they are white to flee the cities and into the Dream. The problem with the police is not that they are fascist pigs but that our country is ruled by majoritarian pigs.

Read More: https://www.rutherford.org/publications_resources/john_whiteheads_commentary/battlefield_america_is_the_new_normal_were_not_in_mayberry_anymore

9/11 Gave Us The Police State With The “Patriot” Act, After Vegas Get Ready For “USA Liberty” Act

US Government The Wall

By Rachel Blevins

After 9/11, the United States government preyed on the fear felt by many Americans to justify the passage of the USA Patriot Act—a law that was supposed to prevent future terrorist attacks. Now, after the Las Vegas shooting, the government has another proposed law ready to go, and just as with the Patriot Act, it also infringes on Americans’ liberties, and does very little for their security.

The USA Liberty Act is the latest trendy name for a law that would reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which is set to expire on Dec. 31, 2017. According to the House Judiciary Committee, the act would preserve “the core purpose of Section 702: the collection of electronic communications by non-U.S. persons for use in our nation’s defense.”

However, it should be noted that while the purpose of FISA was reportedly only to allow surveillance on the communications of foreign targets who were suspected terrorists, it has been used to spy on the communications of innocent Americans—despite the practice being ruled illegal—and any reauthorization of the law will only allow the practice to continue under the guise of “preventing terrorism.”

The USA Liberty Act claims that it will “better protect Americans’ privacy” by requiring the government to have “a legitimate national security purpose” before searching an individual’s database. Then when they do have that purpose established, they will be required to “obtain a court order based on probable cause to look at the content of communications, except when lives or safety are threatened, or a previous probable cause-based court order or warrant has been granted.”

But what the USA Liberty Act does not advertise is the fact that it does not actually address the legitimate problems that exist with Section 702. The FBI’s “legitimate national security purpose” could be justified by just about any reason the agency chooses to give, and agents will only need supervisory authority in order to search Americans’ metadata.

One of the most important things to remember about Section 702 is that, as the Constitution Project noted, it gives domestic law enforcement agencies access to the data seized by the NSA, while allowing the NSA to “retain and disseminate Americans’ communications that may contain any evidence of any crime.”

In a press release on the new act, the House Judiciary Committee bragged about the “bipartisan success” of the USA Freedom Act in June 2015, claiming that it “ended the bulk collection of data, protected civil liberties and national security, and provided robust oversight and transparency of our vital national security tools.”

Read More: https://www.activistpost.com/2017/10/911-gave-us-police-state-patriot-act-vegas-get-ready-usa-liberty-act.html

Read Exactly How Police Cleared Protests | The Daily Caller

Divide-and-Conquer

Virginia State Police cleared Emancipation Park Saturday after a white nationalist demonstration turned violent, but the action forced attendees into a crowd of counter-protesters.

The rally was organized as a protest to the ordered removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee in downtown Charlottesville, Va. The rally was named the “Unite the Right” rally, but attendees largely identified as white nationalists or white supremacists when asked by reporters on the ground. Both Black Lives Matter and then antifa declared they would bring members to Charlottesville to protest the rally, setting up a showdown between the two groups.

The white nationalists applied for a permit from City Hall, and originally obtained a permit for McIntire Park, a location roughly a mile and a half away from the statue. But white supremacist Richard Spencer declared that the group would meet at the much smaller Emancipation Park, the home of the famed Lee statue. City Hall approved the permit Friday evening.

Protesters on both sides roundly criticized police behavior, but police officials say they did the best with the resources they were given. The Daily Caller News Foundation provides an exclusive look into what steps the police took in their effort to clear the park, based on accounts from reporters on the ground.

The call for police assistance echoed through the streets until police took control of the downtown area after a car slammed into a group of protestors Saturday afternoon. Several protesters cited the lack of a police presence as they tried to get help for their injured.

“Where are the police?” one antifa protester said in the crowd. “I don’t see any police here!”

“The police actually allowed us to square off against each other,” a Black Lives Matter protester told CNN. “There were fights and the police were standing a block away the entire time. It’s almost as if they wanted us to fight each other.”

The police initially offered to keep the rally attendees and the protesters separated. The department provided a line of police support at the southern edge of the park. Both Charlottesville Police (CPD) and Virginia State Police were present on the scene Saturday morning, but CPD maintained control of the scene until Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency. The state police took control of the scene and pushed rally attendees and protesters together on East Main Street. Police then stood back, only stepping in to intervene after a white supremacist ran a Dodge Challenger through a crowd of protesters.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) initially reported that members of the local police department were ordered to stand down and not engage with members of either the rally or protest in any way, according to the ACLU’s paid observers. Charlottesville Police Chief Al Thomas quickly refuted that report during a press conference Monday afternoon. He said that members of the police force pulled back because Gov. McAuliffe declared a state of emergency in order to change into protective riot gear. He also argued that limited resources resulted in the stretched law enforcement, according to the New York Post.

McAuliffe originally asserted during a Sunday interview that the police didn’t come between the protesters and members of the alt-right protest because of the existence of the militia during an interview with The New York Times.

“You saw the militia walking down the street, you would have thought they were an army … I was just talking to the State Police upstairs. [The militia members] had better equipment than our state police had,” McAuliffe said in a Sundayinterview. “And yet not a shot was fired, zero property damage.”

Thomas asserted those claims were false during the Monday press conference.

The police force on-site originally consisted of local officers who cordoned off the northern access to the park. Thomas reported that the force offered rally attendees a protected entrance into the park from the north, something that he says alt-right organizers refused to do.

“We had a plan to bring them in at the rear of the park,” Thomas said in a Monday press conference in Charlottesville “They had agreed to cooperate with the plan. Unfortunately, they did not follow the plan. They began entering at different locations in and around the park, and we had to quickly adjust our force to facilitate the process.”

The red lines in the photo above illustrate the area blocked off my local and state police. The white arrow shows the route taken by members of the alt-right, and the yellow arrow shows the path taken by a majority of the antifa and Black Lives Matter protesters toward the event.

Members of law enforcement blocked off the north, east, and west entrances of the park, leaving only the south entrance open. Members of state police occupied a line through the middle of the park to ensure that there was a barrier between the alt-right rally in the park and the antifa and Black Lives Matters protesters on East Market Street. Attendees entered the park from the westward stair of Emancipation Park starting at about 8 a.m. until the initial conflict began around 10 a.m.

Daily Caller News Foundation reporters on the scene were forced to walk from several blocks away to the north due to the roads that local police closed in anticipation of the event. Members of the local police department stopped from checking their phones to point the reporters in the general direction of the rally. The rally was four blocks out of the way to East Market Street, where a crowd of protester gathered front of the park on the South side.

There were three lines standing between the protesters and the white supremacists in the park. The first was a line of state police in normal uniforms. There was also a line of heavily armed militiamen who carried semi-automatic rifles, as well as pistols. Finally, a line of “faith leaders” held themselves arm in arm to provide an additional barrier.

Groups of white supremacists began to march in from the East, and they were pelted with water balloons, glitter bombs, and spit. The stench of urine filled the air as more and more protesters joined the crowd at the front of the park. Some protesters tried to push their way past into the entrance of the park but were stopped by a small group of “enforcers” donning handmade shields and batons to contain the protesting groups to the street.

TheDCNF reporters worked our way through the crowd towards the park, where members of the protests began yelling at us and pointing their middle fingers toward the camera. Occasionally, a protester would scream at us, but then quickly cover their face when the camera moved to them. The police maintained their distance through all of this.

Eventually, we made our way to the entrance of the park but were turned away. Members of the white supremacist groups told us no press was allowed.

Shortly before 10 a.m. we noticed protesters making way for a new group marching from the east. We ran over to discover that the new group was a battalion of antifa members from all across the country.

Protesters began testing the limits of the civilian barriers. The “faith leaders” were the first to go as they silently fell back towards the down town mall, but the militia and the state police stayed in place for the time being. Members of both groups threw filled water bottles at each other. Often, the targeted group would return fire by throwing the water bottles back……..

Read More: dailycaller.com/2017/08/16/an-exclusive-look-at-how-virginia-police-emptied-emancipation-park/

American Police State: the illusion of freedom functioning like a prison

Article: Freedom Is a Myth: We Are All Prisoners of the Police State’s Panopticon Village | OpEdNews

By   

First broadcast in Great Britain 50 years ago, The Prisoner– a dystopian television series described as “James Bond meets George Orwell filtered through Franz Kafka”–confronted societal themes that are still relevant today: the rise of a police state, the freedom of the individual, round-the-clock surveillance, the corruption of government, totalitarianism, weaponization, group think, mass marketing, and the tendency of humankind to meekly accept their lot in life as a prisoner in a prison of their own making.

Perhaps the best visual debate ever on individuality and freedom, The Prisoner (17 episodes in all) centers around a British secret agent who abruptly resigns only to find himself imprisoned, monitored by militarized drones, and interrogated in a mysterious, self-contained, cosmopolitan, seemingly tranquil retirement community known only as the Village.

The Village is a virtual prison disguised as a seaside paradise: its inhabitants have no true freedom, they cannot leave the Village, they are under constant surveillance, their movements are tracked by surveillance drones, and they are stripped of their individuality and identified only by numbers.

The series’ protagonist, played by Patrick McGoohan, is Number Six.

“I am not a number. I am a free man,” was the mantra chanted on each episode of The Prisoner, which was largely written and directed by McGoohan.

In the opening episode (“The Arrival”), Number Six is told that he is in The Village because information stored “inside” his head has made him too valuable to be allowed to roam free “outside.”

Throughout the series, Number Six is subjected to interrogation tactics, torture, hallucinogenic drugs, identity theft, mind control, dream manipulation, and various forms of social indoctrination and physical coercion in order to “persuade” him to comply, give up, give in and subjugate himself to the will of the powers-that-be.

Number Six refuses to comply.

In every episode, Number Six resists the Village’s indoctrination methods, struggles to maintain his own identity, and attempts to escape his captors. “I will not make any deals with you,” he pointedly remarks. “I’ve resigned. I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own.”

Yet no matter how far Number Six manages to get in his efforts to escape, it’s never far enough.

Watched by surveillance cameras and other devices, Number Six’s getaways are continuously thwarted by ominous white balloon-like spheres known as “rovers.” Still, he refuses to give up. “Unlike me,” he says to his fellow prisoners, “many of you have accepted the situation of your imprisonment, and will die here like rotten cabbages.”

Number Six’s escapes become a surreal exercise in futility, each episode an unfunny, unsettling Groundhog’s Day that builds to the same frustrating denouement: there is no escape…..

Read More: www.opednews.com/articles/Freedom-Is-a-Myth-We-Are-by-John-Whitehead-Freedom_Individuality_Police_Police-State-170920-935.html

This is Europe? (EU Police State: “Will the Tax Cattle Please Get Back in their Pens?”)

“This Is Fascism”: Shocking Footage Of Spanish Police Firing Rubber Bullets, Brutally Beating Peaceful Voters | Zero Hedge

Update (10:30 am ET): The number of people injured in clashes between pro-independence voters and riot police dispatched to the restive region by the government in Madrid has climbed to 337, including at least 11 police officers, the Daily Star reports.

* * *

Update (10 am ET): In a statement condeming the Spanish government’s efforts to stamp out the “free expression” of the Catalan people, FC Barcelona announced that it will be playing today’s match against Las Palmas, its first of the season, behind closed doors after the Professional Football League refused to postpone it.

* * *

Update (9:15 am ET): So far, Catalonian emergency services says that 91 people have been injured in violent clashes between Catalonians trying to vote in today’s “illegal” independence, according to AFP.

Among the injured, 11 are police officers.

 11 police officers injured in Catalonia: interior ministry 

* * *

In scenes one would expect to see in Turkey, or some token third-world dictatorship, on Sunday morning Spanish riot police violently cracked down on the scheduled Catalan independence referendum, smashing their way into polling stations in Catalonia in a dramatic quest to shut down the banned Catalan independence referendum, as they fired rubber bullets and brutally beat peaceful people trying to vote for or against independence from a Spanish government, which many commentators this morning have called “fascist.”

Images that Madrid has been fearing as police uses force to remove young and old from voting stations. @FT

Meanwhile in Turkey…
Ah no, it’s Spain.

Scenes like this have no place in the EU

British media will not show you this:

Protesters in Madrid sing the Fascists anthem “Cara al Sol” / “Facing the Sun” 

Look at these fascist thugs. The people are peaceful. 

The Spanish police are hitting these peaceful people really hard… this is disgusting. 

Police fired rubber bullets in central Barcelona, El Periodico newspaper reported, at the intersection of two streets as violence erupted during the vote which has thrown Spain into its worst constitutional crisis for decades.

Footage of Spanish police firing rubber bullets during 

Footage of police rubber bullets used in Sabadell. 

View image on Twitter

Spanish police now firing rubber bullets at voters.

Sky News 

@SkyNewsPolice are firing rubber bullets at voters during protests as the independence referendum gets under way 

According to Reuters, Catalan emergency services said at least 38 people were hurt as a result of police action, although as the footage below shows the final number will likely be orders of magnitude greater.

As Conflicts creator Gissur Simonarson said, “Looking at the footage from Spain. It’s clear the policy got an order to break this up by any means. They are tossing ppl like rag dolls” adding that “The Spanish government has managed to turn me from indifferent/against #CatalanReferendum to a supporter.”

Didn’t understand it fully before today, but I now see why Catalan wants to be free of Spain.pic.twitter.com/1OH1fWDRPc

Gissur Simonarson 

@GissiSimLooking at the footage from Spain. It’s clear the policy got an order to break this up by any means. They are tossing ppl like rag dolls.

Police burst into the polling station in a town in Girona province minutes before Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont was due to vote there. They smashed glass panels to force open the door as voters, fists in the air, sang the Catalan anthem.

Knock, knock!: – who‘s there?
Democracy!

 Officers with riot shields jostled with hundreds of voters outside one station at a school in Barcelona as the crowd chanted “We are people of peace!” Armored vans and an ambulance were parked nearby.

More footage of Spanish police beating peaceful people trying to vote.

This is what democracy looks like: People defending democracy in Sant Carles, Catalonia. 

The referendum has been declared illegal by Spain’s central government in Madrid, which says the constitution states the country is indivisible and has drafted in thousands of police from around Spain into Catalonia to prevent the vote.

The Catalan regional government had scheduled voting to open at 9 a.m. (0700 GMT) at around 2,300 stations, but Madrid said on Saturday it had shut more than half of them.  Voting started at some sites in the region of 7.5 million people, which has its own language and culture and is an industrial hub with an economy larger than that of Portugal. Leader Puigdemont changed plans and voted at a different station after the police action, the regional government said.

As Reuters adds, people had occupied some stations with the aim of preventing police from locking them down. Organizers smuggled in ballot boxes before dawn and urged voters to use passive resistance against police. In a school used as a polling station in Barcelona, police in riot gear carried out ballot boxes while would-be voters chanted “out with the occupying forces!” and “we will vote!”.

Images that Madrid has been fearing as police uses force to remove young and old from voting stations. @FT

“This Is Fascism”: Shocking Footage Of Spanish Police Firing Rubber Bullets, Brutally Beating Peaceful Voters | Zero Hedge

Read More: www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-10-01/fascism-shocking-footage-spanish-police-shooting-rubber-bullets-brutally-beating-pea

The Feds Just Expanded Civil Asset Forfeiture ‘Laws’ Nationwide

When you’re a government agency, asking for a tax increase is always a hassle. As Ryan McMaken notes, for the most part, taxpayers don’t like taxes, and if asked if they want to pay more, they’re likely to often say “no.” Moreover, when public officials pass tax increases, they may face the wrath of taxpayers at the ballot box. For this reason, governments are always looking for ways to get revenue without having to use tax revenue.

One such ‘hidden’ method of seizing wealth from the taxpayers is through what is now called “civil asset forfeiture.”

This occurs when a law enforcement agency seizes the assets – including real estate, cars, cash, and other valuables – from private citizens based merely on the suspicion that the person has committed a crime with the assets in question. No due process is necessary. No conviction in a court of law need occur. While it is technically possible to sue a government agency to reclaim one’s possessions, this requires immense amounts of time and legal fees to pursue. Needless to say, civil asset forfeiture has become a lucrative source of income for law enforcement agencies. And, over the past 30 years, the practice has become widespread.

As Martin Armstrong detailed, between 1989 and 2010, U.S. attorneys seized an estimated $12.6 billion in asset forfeiture cases. The growth rate during that time averaged +19.4% annually. In 2010 alone, the value of assets seized grew by +52.8% from 2009 and was six times greater than the total for 1989. Then by 2014, that number had ballooned to roughly $4.5 billion for the year, making this 35% of the entire number of assets collected from 1989 to 2010 in a single year. Now, according to the FBI, the total amount of goods stolen by criminals in 2014 burglary offenses suffered an estimated $3.9 billion in property losses.

This means that the police are now taking more assets than the criminals.

“Civil forfeiture laws represent one of the most serious assaults on private property rights in the nation today. Under civil forfeiture, police and prosecutors can seize your car or other property, sell it and use the proceeds to fund agency budgets—all without so much as charging you with a crime. Unlike criminal forfeiture, where property is taken after its owner has been found guilty in a court of law, with civil forfeiture, owners need not be charged with or convicted of a crime to lose homes, cars, cash or other property. Americans are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, but civil forfeiture turns that principle on its head.  With civil forfeiture, your property is guilty until you prove it innocent.”

 

– “ Policing for Profit: The Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture,” Institute for Justice

In jolly old England, Robin Hood stole from the rich to give to the poor. But as John Whitehead noted, in modern-day America, greedy government goons steal from the innocent to give to the corrupt under court- and legislature-sanctioned schemes called civil asset forfeiture. This is how the American police state continues to get rich: by stealing from the citizenry.

At every turn, “we the people” are getting swindled, cheated, conned, robbed, raided, pickpocketed, mugged, deceived, defrauded, double-crossed and fleeced by governmental and corporate shareholders of the American police state out to make a profit at taxpayer expense.

President Trump has made it clear his loyalties lie with the police, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has previously declared his love for civil asset forfeiture, the Supreme Court keeps marching in lockstep with the police state, and the police unions don’t want their gravy train to go away, so there’s not much hope for federal reform anytime soon. As always, change will have to begin locally and move upwards.

Some state legislatures (Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Ohio) are beginning to push back against these clearly unconstitutional asset forfeiture schemes. As the National Review reports, “New Mexico now requires a criminal conviction before law enforcement can seize property, while police in Florida must prove “beyond reasonable doubt” that property is linked to a crime before it’s seized.”

And it is that pushback that has seemingly pushed the federal government to ‘fix’ the situation. As Reuters reports, the U.S. Justice Department announced on Wednesday that the federal government will reinstate a program that helps local and state law enforcement seize cash and other assets they suspect have been earned from crimes.

Local police will now be able to seize cash, often from those suspected of drug crimes, even in states that do not condone the policy.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told reporters that most seizures were warranted because the “vast majority” of people who have property taken by police do not contest it in court.

“This is going to enable us to work with local police and our prosecutors to ensure that when assets are lawfully seized they are not returned to criminals,” said Rosenstein at a media briefing at the Justice Department.

The Obama administration had rolled back the policy in 2015, saying it incentivized police to take money from people who had committed crimes.

Since former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder weighed in on the issue in 2015, Justice Department agencies like the Drug Enforcement Administration has been barred from rewarding local police for taking possessions from people they stop.

Now, the federal government will again be able to return up to 80 percent of the assets seized to local law enforcement.

Rosenstein said the 2015 policy had a chilling effect on seizures by local law enforcement.

Many states have civil asset forfeiture laws that allow the state government to redistribute money seized for programs like education. But the federal program returns cash directly to the police department that took the asset, allowing them to buy new equipment or as drug sniffing dogs.

The Justice Department under President Donald Trump has made efforts to improve relationships with local and state law enforcement, which they viewed as damaged under the Obama administration. Rosenstein said that the president had heard from police who were concerned about the 2015 policy, but the administration was not acting to score political points with police unions that supported Trump’s campaign.

“This is not an effort to appease any particular constituency. It is an effort to empower law enforcement,” Rosenstein said.

The Police State’s tentacles just reached a little further into your ‘pocketbook’ as what has become known as “policing for profit,” goes nationwide.. by federal law!

DoJ’s Full new asset forfeiture policy letter below (confirming police can sezie proeprty from people not charged with crimes even in states where it is banned)…

As John Whitehead concluded so eloquently, remember, long before Americans charted their revolutionary course in pursuit of happiness, it was “life, liberty, and property” which constituted the golden triad of essential rights that the government was charged with respecting and protecting. To the colonists, smarting from mistreatment at the hands of the British crown, protecting their property from governmental abuse was just as critical as preserving their lives and liberties. As the colonists understood, if the government can arbitrarily take away your property, you have no true rights: you’re nothing more than a serf or a slave. The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was born of this need to safeguard against any attempt by the government to unlawfully deprive a citizen of the right to life, liberty, or property, without due process of law. Little could our ancestral forebears have imagined that it would take less than three centuries of so-called “independence” to once again render us brow-beaten subjects in bondage to an overlord bent on depriving us of our most inalienable and fundamental rights. Yet if the government can arbitrarily freeze, seize or lay claim to your property (money, land or possessions) under government asset forfeiture schemes, you have no true rights.

Enough is enough.

We leave it to Liberty Blitzkrieg’s Mike Krieger to sum it all upWashington D.C. has become a clear threat to hundreds of millions of Americans who just want to lead a decent lives for themselves and their families. The only policies coming out of that cesspool have made things far worse for the political and economic well-being of the vast majority of us.

Read More: www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-19/feds-just-expanded-civil-asset-forfeiture-laws-nationwide

Gestapo is Back: German Homes Raided Over Facebook Posts | The Daily Bell

Eye of the Police State

Germany has taken its war on “hate speech,” also known as free speech, to the people.

Already Germany has pretty strict laws against citizens using Nazi symbols and denying that the Holocaust happened. Apparently, lawmakers miss the irony of going full Gestapo on citizens for free speech, as offensive as it may be.

But they are not stopping there. The German government has raided the homes of 36 people accused of hateful posting on social media.

Most of the raids concerned politically motivated right-wing incitement, according to the Federal Criminal Police Office, whose officers conducted home searches and interrogations. But the raids also targeted two people accused of left-wing extremist content, as well as one person accused of making threats or harassment based on someone’s sexual orientation.

“The still high incidence of punishable hate posting shows a need for police action,” Holger Münch, president of the Federal Criminal Police Office, said in a statement. “Our free society must not allow a climate of fear, threat, criminal violence and violence either on the street or on the internet.”

In order to keep our society free, we must severely restrict the freedom of the people. War is peace, hate is love, and so on and so forth.

You would think that given Germany’s history they would understand the utmost importance of open discussion and debate.

There was a time when children were turning in their parents for what was said in their own homes against the German Nazi government. People were afraid to speak their minds, have political discussions, or debate important issues because there were so many spies around who would gladly turn them into the government.

That is why the Nazis were able to take their insane philosophy so far. People were restricted from talking about it and criticizing the government.

With the internet, the government can simply hear and see for themselves what thought crimes are being committed, especially when people decide to post them on social media. But why shouldn’t people be allowed to be offensive on social media? Sometimes only by poking and prodding do we get to the crux of an issue. There is a place in society for all types of discourse, and when the government gets to define what constitutes “hate speech” they will simply label their enemies’ language as such.

By “right wing extremist” what German authorities really mean is anyone who questions the immigration policies of the Europe, or thinks differently than the general population. Literally simply insulting someone, or talking trash can make you liable for five years in prison in Germany. According to section 130 of their criminal code(emphasis added):

(1) Whoever, in a manner that is capable of disturbing the public peace:

1. incites hatred against segments of the population or calls for violent or arbitrary measures against them; or

2. assaults the human dignity of others by insulting, maliciously maligning, or defaming segments of the population,

shall be punished with imprisonment from three months to five years.

(2) Whoever:

1. with respect to writings (Section 11 subsection (3)), which incite hatred against segments of the population or a national, racial or religious group, or one characterized by its folk customs, which call for violent or arbitrary measures against them, or which assault the human dignity of others by insulting, maliciously maligning or defaming segments of the population or a previously indicated group:

a) disseminates them;

b) publicly displays, posts, presents, or otherwise makes them accessible;

c) offers, gives or makes accessible to a person under eighteen years; or

(d) produces, obtains, supplies, stocks, offers, announces, commends, undertakes to import or export them, in order to use them or copies obtained from them within the meaning of numbers a through c or facilitate such use by another; or

2. disseminates a presentation of the content indicated in number 1 by radio,

shall be punished with imprisonment for not more than three years or a fine.

Read More: www.thedailybell.com/news-analysis/gestapo-is-back-german-homes-raided-over-facebook-posts/

The Rutherford Institute :: Death at Your Door: Knock-and-Talk Police Tactics Rip a Hole in the Constitution

Everything is Awesome

It’s 1:30 a.m., a time when most people are asleep.

Your neighborhood is in darkness, except for a few street lamps. Someone—he doesn’t identify himself and the voice isn’t familiar—is pounding on your front door, demanding that you open up. Your heart begins racing. Your stomach is tied in knots. The adrenaline is pumping through you. You fear that it’s an intruder or worse. You not only fear for your life, but the lives of your loved ones.

The aggressive pounding continues, becoming more jarring with every passing second. Desperate to protect yourself and your loved ones from whatever threat awaits on the other side of that door, you scramble to lay hold of something—anything—that you might use in self-defense. It might be a flashlight, a baseball bat, or that licensed and registered gun you thought you’d never need. You brace for the confrontation, a shaky grip on your weapon, and approach the door cautiously. The pounding continues.

You open the door to find a shadowy figure aiming a gun in your direction. Immediately, you back up and retreat further into your apartment. At the same time, the intruder opens fire, sending a hail of bullets in your direction. Three of the bullets make contact. You die without ever raising your weapon or firing your gun in self-defense. In your final moments, you get a good look at your assailant: it’s the police.

This is what passes for “knock-and-talk” policing in the American police state.

Read More: www.rutherford.org/publications_resources/john_whiteheads_commentary/death_at_your_door_knock_and_talk_police_tactics_rip_a_hole_in_the_constitu