The Sun Times recently carried one of the more depressing editorials that I’ve ever had the displeasure of reading, written by Mary Mitchell. In that article, she applauds the cement barricades, random searches, and other unconstitutional police actions that are being done on the public roads near Obama’s Chicago residence, in the name of Obama’s security, then suggests that such practices be expanded to Chicago’s other neighborhoods. My response to her statements is below:
Concrete barricades now guard both ends of Obama’s block, while metal barricades, like the ones used to hold back crowds during parades, are lined up on Hyde Park Boulevard. . . Unsuspecting pedestrians are questioned when they go around the barricades. Similar to a gated community, guests who visit Obama’s neighbors have to identify themselves. . . An agent rifled through my purse and searched my backpack.
It is sad that this reporter thinks that it is reasonable for the police to search her while she is on a public street. I, for one, value my right to be free from unreasonable searches as I go about my business in a peaceful and law abiding manner. I have a special appreciation for such rights, as I was pulled over about a dozen times in a one month period by a pair of racist cops in the North West suburbs of Chicago. I was never ticketed, as I was breaking no laws. Instead, they just felt like harassing me, and did so by pulling me over, asking for my license, and taking 15 minutes of my time before returning it to me. Because I had constitutional rights, and was aware of those rights, I was able to stand up to this racism by writing letters to the police department and elected officials, as well as seeking assistance from an attorney relative who fought discrimination years ago. Shortly thereafter, the racist traffic stops ended.
Also, note that freedom from unreasonable searches keeps crooked cops from being able to plant evidence on innocent people, as the planed drugs or other contraband would not (generally) be admissible in court if there was not a good reason for the search.
Hundreds of people have been killed in the city this year because of street violence. It is a crisis. And a crisis requires drastic intervention, not rhetoric. . . Aldermen and activists who are struggling to stop the bloodbath on the South Side may have to resort to the same aggressive policing that is being used to protect Obama.
Chicago is indeed a dangerous place these days, with the murder rate up 18%, despite a ban on handguns that criminals ignore every day. Allowing the government in Chicago to ban handguns has disarmed countless law abiding citizens, leaving them vulnerable to gun-ban-ignoring murderers. Giving more power to that same corrupt government that has failed to reduce crime won’t solve the problem – but would almost certainly lead to more abuses of authority. It is also worth noting that the same aldermen and so-called activists who Mary Mitchell says are “struggling to stop the bloodbath” make up the corrupt government of Chicago that is a large part of the problem.
This is Chicago, not Alaska.
Basic rights extend to all citizens, regardless of the area in which they live. This is a rather basic principle of constitutional law that I remember from my first year of law school (although I knew of this principle long before I started law school). A person who doesn’t grasp this concept would seem to me to be wholly unqualified to advocate for random searches of citizens, yet unfortunately Mary Mitchell’s uninformed opinions are being widely disseminated.
For those of you who argue that what I am proposing violates basic civil rights, forget it. When you go to an airport . . . you have to walk through a metal detector.
That is one of the least apt analogies I’ve ever heard. Airport security checks are constitutional and even reasonable because of the special security considerations that go with air travel, and the lowered privacy interests one has while temporarily occupying a public space such as an airport. However such searches are not reasonable as one goes down the street near their home, drives to work, or walks their dog.
They can continue to watch as their children are killed, or they can get the guns out of the hands of the killers.
This completely invalid false dichotomy argument suggests that people can either give up their most basic and sacred rights as Americans, or have their children die. Nothing could be further from the truth. Citizens who stand up for their basic rights today will not face the type of police abuses that are common in countries were basic rights have been abandoned. Unlike citizens of China, Americans generally need worry about being jailed or executed for disagreeing with the government. Furthermore, basic rights (such as gun ownership) allow people to defend their children, rather than having their children harmed by criminals. It is our basic rights that keep us safe. Finally, as Benjamin Franklin once stated “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”