A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Law and Disorder’ tag

Avoiding Embarrassment

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Operation Fast and Furious was quite an embarrassing moment in the federal government’s history. Imagine being in its shoes. You’re arguing for stronger domestic gun control to prevent drug cartels from acquiring guns and then somebody discovered that you’re simultaneously running guns to drug cartels. Now imagine that you’re forced to relive this embarrassing moment in court. I’m sure you can see why federal prosecutors are trying to hide the embarrassing memory of Fast and Furious from the jury of the El Chapo trial:

BROOKLYN, New York — Operation Fast and Furious is among the most epic boondoggles in the history of federal law enforcement, which probably explains why federal prosecutors don’t want jurors in the trial of Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán to hear anything about it.

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So on Friday federal prosecutors in El Chapo’s trial in Brooklyn, which is entering its fifth week, filed a motion that asks Judge Brian Cogan to make “questions or evidence” about Fast and Furious “completely off limits” to the defense. The government cited “negative reporting on the operation” and argued that mentioning it would “distract and confuse the jury.”

I think the reason most of the reporting on Fast and Furious was negative was because it involved the federal government arming the very same people from whom it claimed to want to keep guns away. And I’m sure hearing about Fast and Furious would confuse the jury. Members of the jury would likely be asking themselves why the federal government has any right to prosecute a man to whom it sold guns.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 13th, 2018 at 10:00 am

Score One for the First Amendment

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James Webb came across a law enforcer expropriating wealth from a motorist and did what any red blooded American would do, he cranked up NWA’s Fuck the Police. The officer, having no self awareness or sense of humor, cited Webb for violating the city’s noise ordinance. Instead of paying, Webb decided to take the matter to court. The jury quickly decided that the case was “>stupid and ruled in Webb’s favor:

A man facing jail time for blasting the song “F the Police” and allegedly violating Pontiac’s noise ordinance was found not guilty by a jury.

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“The police officer’s reasoning was that he said this music was vulgar. And part of the vulgarity was that it used the F word, but we had on the video that the first man the officer had pulled over; the officer is dropping F-bombs with him. So why is it OK for this man to hear the F-word but not other people?” said Nicholas Somberg, who represented Webb in court.

Webb chose not to pay the fine for allegedly violating the noise ordinance and instead chose to take the case to trial. The jury took all of nine minutes to come back with a not guilty verdict.

Kudos to Webb for taking the citation to court rather than paying it. Kudos to the jury for only taking nine minutes to decide that the accusation against Webb was stupid. And kudos to the officer whose argument was based on the vulgarity of Webb’s music while he was on camera using vulgarities himself.

Score one for the freedom of expression.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 12th, 2018 at 10:00 am

Getting Leadership Ousted in the Minneapolis Police Department

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If officers executing unarmed individuals isn’t enough to get leaders in the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) ousted, what is? Apparently Christmas decorations:

Just days after controversy erupted over a racist Christmas tree on display at the Minneapolis Police Department’s 4th Precinct, Chief Medaria Arradondo has assigned a new inspector to lead the north Minneapolis precinct.

Images of a Christmas tree decorated with beer cans, cigarettes and police tape spread quickly on social media Friday. It was condemned by members of the public, activists and Minneapolis City Council members, including Council Member Jeremiah Ellison, who represents the area. Ellison said it’s “the type of thing that always instills fear in the community.

We’ve learned something here. The value of an unarmed person is worth less in the eyes of the MPD than bad publicity generated by a Christmas tree. While that’s not exactly a happy thing to learn, at least we know.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 7th, 2018 at 10:00 am

More Effective than Voting

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The French government decided it was going to bleed its subjects a bit more by passing a fuel tax hike. This didn’t go over well. By “didn’t go over well” I don’t mean the usual American response where people scream bloody murder and claim they’re going to vote the responsible parties out of office when the next election rolls around, I mean shit was literally on fire. In response the French government has reconsidered the hike:

Fuel tax rises which had led to weeks of violent protests in France have been suspended for six months.

PM Edouard Philippe said that people’s anger must be heard, and the measures would not be applied until there had been proper debate with those affected.

Smart move. Considering France’s history, the next step in the protest would have likely involve guillotines.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 4th, 2018 at 10:30 am

One of These Things Is Just Like the Other

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Since I already wrote one post about the similarities between Obama and Trump today I might as well keep writing on the theme. A lot of people are up in arms because border agents used teargas on immigrants who were trying to cross the imaginary line that separates the United States from Mexico. How horrible is it that Trump authorized the use of such violence against poor, defenseless women and children (as his critics put it)?! Of course the people crying foul now didn’t utter a peep when the same thing happened under Obama:

Under President Donald Trump, CBP’s use of the substance has hit a seven-year record high, with the agency deploying the substance a total of 29 times in fiscal year 2018, which ended on September 30, 2018, according to the agency’s data.

However, the data also showed that the substance was deployed nearly the same number of times in fiscal years 2012 and 2013 under former President Barack Obama, with CBP using the substance 26 times in fiscal year 2012 and 27 times in fiscal year 2013.

Once again we see the hypocrisy that is common amongst the most vocal of politically opinionated individuals. When a politician on the “other” team does something, the politically opinionated scream bloody murder. When a politician on “their” team does the exact same thing, the politically opinionated clap their hands, cheer, and wax poetically about how effective “their” politician is.

I tend to consider most politically opinionated individuals to be unprincipled but that’s not entirely accurate. They do have one principle, which is that “their” party is always right. Even when “their” party does something they disagree with it’s only because it was forced into doing so by the “other” party. I believe that technically qualifies as a principle but it’s a stupid one to have in my opinion.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 28th, 2018 at 10:00 am

The Walls Have Ears

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It’s tough to avoid the gaze of Big Brother. As this article sent to me by Steven demonstrates, Big Brother even watches where he’s not supposed to:

KANSAS CITY, Kan.– The federal public defender’s office has asked for the release of 67 inmates from a Kansas federal prison and plans to seek freedom for more than 150 others because authorities secretly recorded conversations between prisoners and their attorneys that are supposed to be private.

Most of the federal inmates are being held on drug or firearms-related cases.

The practice first came to light in a prison contraband case during which criminal defense lawyers discovered the privately run Leavenworth Detention Center was routinely recording meetings and phone conversations between attorneys and clients, which are confidential under the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution. A court-appointed expert was brought in to independently investigate whether prosecutors had improperly listened to the recordings.

Once again we have a demonstration of the fact that the Constitution is nothing more than a piece of paper. It is incapable of enforcing the rules that it displays and thus powerless to stop individuals from violating those rules. Here is where constitutionalists tend to point out that while the rules were violated, now that the violation is known it is being corrected. To that I point out that the violation isn’t guaranteed to be corrected and, more importantly, even if the violation is corrected, those who are in prison because of those violations can never get the years of their life back (and will likely receive little in the way of compensation).

This is not to say that parts of the Constitution, such as the Bill of Rights, aren’t nice concepts but to point out that they are simply concepts. Far too often people, especially libertarians and conservatives, fall into the trap of attributing almost godlike powers to it. So while the Constitution guarantees certain protections against state surveillance, those guarantees aren’t actual guarantees and you must operate as if you are under state surveillance even when you’re in situations where you’re supposed to be legally protected from it.

Not Enough Slaves

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Senator Tom Cotton has a reputation for saying incredibly stupid shit. However, I think he may have outdone himself:

Sen. Tom Cotton on Thursday slammed his colleagues’ efforts to pass sweeping criminal justice reforms, saying the United States is actually suffering from an “under-incarceration problem.”

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“Take a look at the facts. First, the claim that too many criminals are being jailed, that there is over-incarceration, ignores an unfortunate fact: for the vast majority of crimes, a perpetrator is never identified or arrested, let alone prosecuted, convicted, and jailed,” Cotton said during a speech at The Hudson Institute, according to his prepared remarks. “Law enforcement is able to arrest or identify a likely perpetrator for only 19 percent of property crimes and 47 percent of violent crimes. If anything, we have an under-incarceration problem.”

The country with the highest incarceration rate in the world has an under-incarceration problem?

Moreover, Cotton’s statements about the inadequacies of law enforcers doesn’t add any weight to his argument. Assuming Cotton’s statistics are correct (which they probably aren’t), why do law enforcers only identify perpetrators in 19 percent of property crimes and 47 percent of violent crimes? Could it be that instead of focusing their efforts on crimes where individuals were actually wronged they are focusing their efforts on victimless crimes that are profitable for the department like drug crimes?

Moreover, even if law enforcers were able to identify perpetrators in a majority of property and violent crimes, why should that increase the incarceration rate? The purpose of justice is supposed to be to make a victim as whole again as possible. For example, if somebody steals a $400 television, justice would be for the criminal to repay that $400 value to the victim as well as any expenses incurred (including personal time invested) for finding the thief and bringing them to justice. If that happens, the victim is back to where they were before the theft and thus is as whole again as reasonably possible.

Incarceration doesn’t make victims whole, it merely locks a criminal away so they can become a slave laborer for the state or one of its cronies. So what Cotton is really saying is that there aren’t enough slaves to work the prison plantations and he believes that any form of prison reform will only worsen the situation. If his concern was actually justice, he would still seek a reduction in incarceration rates.

No Law Too Petty

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I give the United States legal system a lot of shit because I live under it. However, the United States doesn’t have a monopoly on the creation and enforcement of petty laws:

OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada agreed Thursday to hear the case of a woman who was ticketed and arrested after she refused instructions to hold onto an escalator handrail.

Bela Kosoian was in a subway station in the Montreal suburb of Laval in 2009 when a police officer told her to respect a pictogram with the instruction, “hold the handrail.”

She replied that she did not consider the image, which also featured the word “Careful,” to be an obligation. She refused to hold the handrail, and tensions mounted after she also refused to identity herself.

She was “taken by force” by the officer and another who had arrived as backup, according to court documents.

This case of a woman refusing to hold the rail on an escalator not only resulted in her arrest but has made it all the way to the country’s supreme court. Laws don’t get much more petty than that.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 20th, 2018 at 10:00 am

Risking Lives to Enforce Petty Offenses

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There’s no offense so petty that law enforcers won’t risk lives to enforce it:

In Bloomington, police topped 90 miles per hour in a chase to nab a driver whose car had a missing license plate.

In nearby Eagan, an officer reached speeds up to 107 miles per hour in hopes of catching a driver wanted for shoplifting.

State troopers chased a car at 115 miles per hour after spotting an air-freshener hanging from the rear-view mirror.

Over the last three years, law enforcement officers throughout Minnesota have overwhelmingly engaged in high-speed, high-risk chases for low-level offenses, a 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS investigation has found.

An examination of more than 700 court cases since 2016 shows police officers, deputies and Minnesota State Patrol troopers chased drivers for non-violent offenses 95 percent of the time.

Not only is risking lives to enforce petty offenses far riskier than the payoff justifies but high speed chases are also unnecessary in a surveillance state.

Law enforcement departments throughout the country have invested heavily in surveillance technologies. Many cities are now covered with license plate scanners and those scanners are often sophisticated enough to identify the make and model of a vehicle as well as to uniquely identify a vehicle by bumper stickers and other external features. It’s quickly becoming impossible to evade law enforcement using a vehicle. This means that instead of engaging in a high speed chase, law enforcers could instead tell dispatch to track the vehicle using the expensive surveillance technology already in place. The suspect can still be arrested and innocent bystanders don’t have to be put at risk to do it.

But using tracking technology doesn’t offer the adrenaline rush that engaging in a high speed chase does so I can see why that option isn’t utilized very often.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 15th, 2018 at 10:30 am

Go Be Homeless Somewhere Else

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Minneapolis made national news because of its Hooverville. What didn’t get as much headline attention is St. Paul’s Hooverville. Fortunately for the government of St. Paul (but unfortunately for the homeless individuals) the lack of national attention has meant that it has more freedom to deal with its homeless encampment. The St. Paul Police Department distributed flyers that informed the individuals in the encampment that have to go be homeless somewhere else:

Late last week, St. Paul city officials said they were increasingly worried about how the onset of wintry weather was affecting a camp of homeless people at the base of Cathedral Hill, and hoped to come up with a plan for them over the next couple weeks.

Early Tuesday morning, they took action: police officers and workers from the Department of Safety and Inspections visited the encampment alongside Interstate 35E and handed out fliers.

“To protect your health and safety,” the flier told campers, “this site will be permanently cleared at 10 a.m. on Thursday, November 15th. You are required to vacate the site and not return.”

To protect their health and safety their community will dismantled and their meager possession will be taken if not cleared out by the deadline. Makes sense.

The flyers do promise the homeless individuals transportation to the handful homeless shelters in the area, which will appease the residents of St. Paul who want the homeless people gone but in a manner that won’t upset their conscious. However, if the homeless shelters were able to provide these individuals what they need, they probably would be using them instead of camping in tents in the winter. The homeless shelters in the Twin Cities are overcrowded and usually kick guests out in the morning so they have to find somewhere to hunker down until the shelter opens up again. But none of this matters because the existence of the shelters is only being mentioned on the flyers to make the act of destroying the encampment appear magnanimous.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 15th, 2018 at 10:00 am