Thursday, June 05, 2008

Welcome to Baghdad, D.C.

You’re driving on a city street, you’ve done nothing wrong. Suddenly, you drive up on a “military style check point”. A man in a police uniform, with a gun, orders you to pull over and stop. He demands that you present your proof of identity. He demands to know if you have a “legitimate purpose” to be in the neighborhood. HE will then, apparently, determine if your purpose is legitimate or not. If and when HE determines that you do not have a legitimate purpose in the neighborhood, he will “turn you away”.

“Police will search cars if they suspect the presence of guns or drugs, and will arrest people who do not cooperate, under a charge of failure to obey a police officer.”

Oh my gosh, am I talking about Baghdad?

Uh, no, actually this began happening on Saturday, June 7, 2008. This was reported in a story on the Washington Post web site. Click here to read the story.

"My reaction is, welcome to Baghdad, D.C.," said Arthur Spitzer, legal director of the Washington office of the American Civil Liberties Union. (ACLU)

Spitzer went on to say; "I mean, this is craziness. In this country, you don't have to show identification or explain to the police why you want to travel down a public street."

This is one of the few times that the ACLU “gets it”.

The story also said that this activity will take place randomly and last for at least a few days in the Trinidad neighborhood. Police will have the option of extending it, and could expand into other neighborhoods if requested by patrol commanders.

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier, if you remember, had proposed in March the Safe Homes Initiative (click here for the news story) which called for uniformed police to go door to door in targeted areas and “ask” residents if the officers could go inside and search for guns. This created a backlash of complaints and protests from citizens and some city officials. The concerns are that homeowners and residents would feel intimidated by the armed police presence.

It will be too intimidating for some folks to say “no” to armed men, uniformed or not.

Chief Lanier took a step back, but said she plans to move the Safe Homes Initiative forward by “having residents call police to set up appointments.”

According to the recent Post story; this latest action; is aimed at the city's most troubled areas. The 5th Police District, which includes Trinidad, has had 22 killings this year, one more than all of last year. Since April 1, the Trinidad neighborhood has had 7 murders, 16 robberies and 20 assaults with dangerous weapons, according to police data.

Former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, Jr. once said that Washington’s crime rate wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for all those murders.

Keep in mind that Washington D.C. has the most repressive gun control laws in the country, and is still regarded as Murder City, U.S.A

Yup, fascist gun bans really work, eh?


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