Whatever Happened to the 4th Amendment?   Leave a comment

“The Fourth Amendment was designed to stand between us and arbitrary governmental authority. For all practical purposes, that shield has been shattered, leaving our liberty and personal integrity subject to the whim of every cop on the beat, trooper on the highway and jail official.”—Herman Schwartz, The Nation

The Fourth Amendment supposedly protects us from unreasonable searches of our homes, businesses and persons and seizures of our possessions and papers. It’s become no more than a paper barrier assaulted by a water pistol under a prevailing view among government bureaucrats that they have the right to search, seize, strip, scan, shoot, spy on, probe, pat down, taser, and arrest any individual at any time and for any reason.

Image result for image of the 4th amendmentIf you follow the link above, you’ll find a detailed description of forced cavity searches, blood draws, breath-alcohol tests, and DNA extractions. In the course of conducting our every day lives, we are coerced into submitting to forced eye scans and inclusion in biometric databases. And that’s just the tip of a huge iceberg. Americans are being forced to accept that we have no control over our bodies, our lives and our property, especially when it comes to interactions with the government.

Worse, on a daily basis, Americans are being made to relinquish the most intimate details of who we are—our biological makeup, our genetic blueprints, and our biometrics (facial characteristics and structure, fingerprints, iris scans, etc.)—in order to clear the nearly insurmountable hurdle that increasingly defines life in the United States. We are constantly reminded that we are now guilty until proven innocent.

Americans are being threatened with arrest and carted off to jail for the least hint of noncompliance. Homes are being raided by police under the slightest pretext. Property is seized on the slightest hint of suspicious activity. Roadside police stops have devolved into government-sanctioned exercises in humiliation and degradation with a complete disregard for privacy and human dignity.

Consider, for example, what happened to Utah nurse Alex Wubbels after a police detective demanded to take blood from a badly injured, unconscious patient without a warrant. Wubbels refused, citing hospital policy that requires police to either have a warrant or permission from the patient in order to draw blood. The detective had neither. Irate, the detective threatened to have Wubbels arrested if she didn’t comply. Backed up by her supervisors, Wubbels respectfully stood her ground only to be roughly grabbed, handcuffed, dragged out of the hospital and forced into an unmarked car while hospital police stood by, unable to intervene without risking arrest themselves. Here’s the police body camera footage, which has gone viral. You can see what happened for yourselves.

Michael Chorosky didn’t have an advocate like Wubbels to stand guard over his Fourth Amendment rights. Chorosky was surrounded by police, strapped to a gurney and then had his blood forcibly drawn after refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test. “What country is this? What country is this?” cried Chorosky during the forced blood draw.

Image result for image of the 4th amendmentYeah … I don’t know either. Is this still the United States of America? It kind of looks like the former Soviet Union or communist China.

Unfortunately, forced blood draws are minor compared to some of the indignities and abuses being heaped on Americans in the so-called name of “national security.” Think about forced cavity searches, forced colonoscopies and forced roadside strip searches. These are becoming commonplace in an age in which police are taught to have no respect for the bodily integrity of mere people who may not have done anything wrong.

Charnesia Corley, 21, was pulled over by Texas police in 2015 for “rolling” through a stop sign. Claiming they smelled marijuana, police handcuffed Corley, placed her in the back of the police cruiser, and then searched her car for almost an hour. No drugs were found in the car. You’d think they would then take off the handcuffs and apologize profusely for being overzealous … but, no … that’s not the country we live in now.

The Houston Chronicle reported:

Returning to his car where Corley was held, the deputy again said he smelled marijuana and called in a female deputy to conduct a cavity search. When the female deputy arrived, she told Corley to pull her pants down, but Corley protested because she was cuffed and had no underwear on. The deputy ordered Corley to bend over, pulled down her pants and began to search her. Then…Corley stood up and protested, so the deputy threw her to the ground and restrained her while another female was called in to assist. When backup arrived, each deputy held one of Corley’s legs apart to conduct the probe. No drugs were found on Corley’s person

The cavity search lasted 11 minutes. The street slang for this practice is “rape by cop.” Is anyone surprised that it is common enough to have developed street slang?

Corley was charged with resisting arrest and with possession of 0.2 grams of marijuana, those charges were subsequently dropped. The full dash-cam video was released to the Houston Chronicle and can be viewed here.  Two of the officers who conducted the search, William Strong and Ronaldine Pierre, were indicted in June 2016 by a Harris County grand jury on charges of official oppression, but those charges were dropped, apparently because we think this is behavior cops ought to engage in on a more regular basis..

David Eckert was forced to undergo an anal cavity search, three enemas, and a colonoscopy after allegedly failing to yield to a stop sign at a Walmart parking lot. Walmart parking lot … isn’t that private property? Cops justified the searches on the grounds that they suspected Eckert was carrying drugs because his “posture [was] erect” and “he kept his legs together.” So, this guy had good posture. That’s a crime now? No drugs were found.

During a routine traffic stop, Leila Tarantino was subjected to two roadside strip searches in plain view of passing traffic, while her two children—ages 1 and 4—waited inside her car. During the second strip search, presumably in an effort to ferret out drugs, a female officer “forcibly removed” a tampon from Tarantino. No contraband or anything illegal was found.

Angel Dobbs, 38, and her 24-year-old niece, Ashley, were pulled over by a Texas state trooper on July 13, 2012, allegedly for flicking cigarette butts out of the car window. Insisting that he smelled marijuana, the trooper proceeded to interrogate them and search the car. Despite the fact that both women denied smoking or possessing any marijuana, the police officer then called in a female trooper, who carried out a roadside cavity search, sticking her fingers into the older woman’s anus and vagina, then performing the same procedure on the younger woman, wearing the same pair of gloves. No marijuana was found.

Gerald Dickson, 69, was handcuffed and taken into custody (not arrested or charged with any crime) after giving a ride to a neighbor’s son, whom police suspected of being a drug dealer. Despite Dickson’s insistence that the bulge under his shirt was the result of a botched hernia surgery, police ordered Dickson to “strip off his clothes, bend over and expose all of his private parts.” No drugs or contraband were found.

Four Milwaukee police officers were charged with carrying out rectal searches of suspects on the street and in police district stations over the course of several years. One of the officers was accused of conducting searches of men’s anal and scrotal areas, often inserting his fingers into their rectums and leaving some of his victims with bleeding rectums.

It’s gotten so bad that you don’t even have to be suspected of possessing drugs to be subjected to a strip search.

A North Carolina public school allegedly strip-searched a 10-year-old boy in search of a $20 bill lost by another student, despite the fact that the boy, J.C., twice told school officials he did not have the missing money. The assistant principal reportedly ordered the fifth grader to disrobe down to his underwear and subjected him to an aggressive strip-search that included rimming the edge of his underwear. The missing money was later found in the school cafeteria.

Suspecting that Georgia Tech alum Mary Clayton might be attempting to smuggle a Chick-Fil-A sandwich into the football stadium, a Georgia Tech police officer allegedly subjected the season ticket-holder to a strip search that included a close examination of her underwear and bra. No contraband chicken was found.

Forced searches span a broad spectrum of methods and scenarios, but the common denominator is complete disregard for the rights of the citizenry.

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Florence v. Burlison, any person who is arrested and processed at a jail house, regardless of the severity of his or her offense (minor traffic offense, for example), can be subjected to a strip search by police or jail officials without reasonable suspicion that the arrestee is carrying a weapon or contraband.

Examples of minor infractions which have resulted in strip searches include:

  • individuals arrested for driving with a noisy muffler
  • driving with an inoperable headlight
  • failing to use a turn signal
  • riding a bicycle without an audible bell
  • making an improper left turn
  • engaging in an antiwar demonstration

Police have also carried out strip searches for:

  • passing a bad check
  • dog leash violations
  • filing a false police report
  • failing to produce a driver’s license after making an illegal left turn
  • having outstanding parking tickets
  • public intoxication
  • failure to pay child support can also result in a strip search

As technology advances, these searches are becoming more invasive on a cellular level, as well.

For instance, close to 600 motorists leaving Penn State University one Friday night were stopped by police and, without their knowledge or consent, subjected to a breathalyzer test using flashlights that can detect the presence of alcohol on a person’s breath. These passive alcohol sensors are being hailed as a new weapon in the fight against DUIs.

Those who refuse to knowingly submit to a breathalyzer test are being subjected to forced blood draws. Thirty states presently allow police to do forced blood draws on drivers as part of a nationwide “No Refusal” initiative funded by the federal government. Not even court rulings declaring such practices to be unconstitutional in the absence of a warrant have slowed down the process. Now police simply keep a magistrate on call to rubber stamp the procedure over the phone.)

The National Highway Safety Administration, which funds the “No Refusal” DUI checkpoints and forcible blood draws, is also funding nationwide roadblocks aimed at getting drivers to “voluntarily” provide police with DNA derived from saliva and blood samples, reportedly to study inebriation patterns. In at least 28 states, including Alaska, there’s nothing voluntary about having one’s DNA collected by police in instances where you’ve been arrested. At least in Alaska, you have to be have been convicted of a crime. All of this DNA data is being fed to the federal government.

Airline passengers, already subjected to invasive pat downs and virtual strip searches, are now being scrutinized even more closely, with the Customs and Border Protection agency tasking airport officials with monitoring the bowel movements of passengers suspected of ingesting drugs. They even have a special hi-tech toilet designed to filter through a person’s fecal waste.

Iris scans, an essential part of the U.S. military’s boots-on-the-ground approach to keeping track of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, are becoming a de facto method of building the government’s already mammoth biometrics database. Funded by the Dept. of Justice, along with other federal agencies, the iris scan technology is being incorporated into police precincts, jails, immigration checkpoints, airports and even schools. School officials—from elementary to college—have begun using iris scans in place of traditional ID cards. In some parts of the country, parents wanting to pick their kids up from school have to first submit to an iris scan.

As for those endless pictures everyone so cheerfully uploads to Facebook (which has the largest facial recognition database in the world) or anywhere else on the internet, they’re all being accessed by the police, filtered with facial recognition software, uploaded into the government’s mammoth biometrics database and cross-checked against its criminal files. With good reason, civil libertarians fear these databases could “someday be used for monitoring political rallies, sporting events or even busy downtown areas.”

Our Founders could scarcely have imagined a world in which we need protection agains widespread government breeches of our privacy down to the cellular level, yet they had the good sense to create the 4th Amendment to prevent government officials from searching an individual’s person or property without a proper warrant and probably cause (evidence that some kind of criminal activity is going on). We desperately need to return to the bedrock of this Constitutional protection because the indignities we all undergo from agents of America’s police state are just a taste of what will come in the future if we continue to allow the government to undermine our rights.

 

With every court ruling that allows the government to operate above the rule of law, every piece of legislation that limits our freedoms, and every act of government wrongdoing that goes unpunished, we’re slowly being conditioned to accept a society in which we have little real control over our bodies or our lives and to come to believe that is normal.

Posted October 13, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Tyranny

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