Police Militarization, Citizen Journalism And The Suppression Of Free Speech: The Ferguson Fiasco Highlights Systemic Problem

from the time-to-change-things dept

Last night we wrote briefly about the police in Ferguson, Missouri, detaining two journalists — Wesley Lowery of the Washington Post and Ryan Reilly of the Huffington Post. The situation in Ferguson was already a mess in terms of the police killing an unarmed teenager, responding poorly to that situation, and then making things worse by challenging citizens’ rights to free speech and to assemble. Taking it a step further and targeting journalists further shows that the police in Ferguson, beyond having little plan on what to do, were looking to suppress the flow of information about what was happening. Soon after that post went up, the police went even further in teargassing a reporting team from Al Jazeera America. Living in the US, the idea that reporters from Al Jazeera might face teargassing from “security forces” may not seem that strange… if it were in the Middle East. But this is in Missouri, which should say something about how much we’ve lost the plot here in America.

It’s pretty clear from the video that the teargas was shot directly at the press — who were obviously members of the press getting their lights ready for a live shot. There were further reports that the police also fired rubber bullets at those same reporters.

But of course, in this day and age, focusing just on the “professional” press is kind of meaningless. Anyone can be a part of the press, and that’s happening quite frequently. Local Alderman Antonio French went out into Ferguson and was doing plenty of reporting, even if he wasn’t professional media. Here were some of his tweets from last night:

Wesley Lowery, the Washington Post reporter who was detained, noted that French provided the “biggest public service” he’d seen so far in covering what was happening… and that he was “appalled” to find out that, of course, French was arrested. Unlike with Lowery and Reilly, who were detained and not charged, French was charged with “unlawful assembly” and was thrown in jail. While police said he would be in jail for 24 hours, after protests emerged around the arrest, French was released this morning.

The whole thing highlights just how dangerous this situation has become and how police in Ferguson appear to be trampling over basically every constitutional right they can come up with (there was a joke on Twitter last night — and forgive me for not being able to track down where it originated — that before too long, police in Ferguson will be demanding to be quartered in residents’ houses…).

We’ve been covering the ridiculous trend of militarizing the police for quite some time (though nowhere near as long as Radley Balco, who has been warning about this for ages, with very few people paying attention…), and just last month highlighted just how ridiculous it has become. In many, many cases, the militarization is actually driven by the Department of Homeland Security giving local police forces cast off military equipment for free. In the past 12 years, DHS has given $35 billion (with a b) in grants and equipment to local police forces. I recently found out that the local police in the small sleepy suburb where Techdirt’s offices are located got themselves an MRAP, and it scares me silly.

Glenn Greenwald is noting that the events in Ferguson are finally dragging the horrors of a militarized police force into the limelight, and I hope it leads to a severe about-face. Ryan Cooper, at The Week, has a similar piece, saying that what’s happening in Ferguson shows why you don’t militarize police. Another comment (again, sorry for the lack of attribution as I can’t find it now) that flew by on Twitter was something to the effect of that the military is trained to take out an enemy, while the police are supposed to be the public’s servants. But when you militarize the police, the public becomes the enemy.

Given all this, Trevor Timm, of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, rightly notes that the militarization of the police is now a press freedom issue as well:

But until now, this issue has not really reached the mainstream, or if it has, it’s been thought of as something that happens in a foreign authoritarian country and not the United States. Besides the arrests yesterday, you can watch video of Al Jazeera journalists being tear-gassed by these police forces (and perhaps mistake it for footage from Tahrir Square in Egypt). Or you listen to a brave citizen journalist operating a livestream describe events as police demand people to turn off their cameras, just as the tear gas and rubber bullets start to fly. Or you can think about citizen journalist Antonio French who was not as lucky as the other two reporters and is still sitting in jail.

In response to the travesty in Ferguson, the Justice Department indicated it may re-open a broad review of local police tactics around the country to investigate some of these issues. That is the least they should do. The rights of countless lawful citizens have been trampled on in Ferguson and around the country thanks to these police tactics, and something needs to be done soon.

But reporters should take note: these issues don’t just affect protesters, but also affect those who cover the protest. It creates an environment where police think they can disregard the law and tell reporters to stop filming, despite their legal right to do so, or fire tear gas directly at them to prevent them from doing their job. And if the rights of journalists are being trampled on, you can almost guarantee it’s even worse for those who don’t have such a platform to protect themselves. Mr. Lowery said it best after he was released from jail yesterday:

?I knew I was going to be fine,? he said. ?But the thing is, so many people here in Ferguson don?t have as many Twitter followers as I have and don?t have [Washington Post owner] Jeff Bezos or whoever to call and bail them out of jail.?

And, of course, what that really shows is that this is not just a freedom of the press issue, but a freedom of speech issue — and, more broadly, a freedom issue, period. By militarizing the police, DHS and the federal government have set up a situation that is designed to snuff out free speech, freedom of assembly and the rights of everyone. It is trampling the very constitution it is supposedly defending. It’s a complete travesty. It’s been going on for a while, but the events in Ferguson only serve to highlight just how ridiculous and dangerous the situation has become.

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Comments on “Police Militarization, Citizen Journalism And The Suppression Of Free Speech: The Ferguson Fiasco Highlights Systemic Problem”

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Ninja (profile) says:

DHS and the federal government have set up a situation that is designed to snuff out free speech, freedom of assembly and the rights of everyone. It is trampling the very constitution it is supposedly defending. It’s a complete travesty. It’s been going on for a while, but the events in Ferguson only serve to highlight just how ridiculous and dangerous the situation has become.

This has been developing for a while now and 9/11 simply made it way faster. The US is walking, almost running, towards the very things they fight against. Either the Americans will react now and place the executive back into its place along with putting more political parties in the political scenario or we’ll see the American Reich installed. Maybe not as racist as the WWII thing but with much more firepower. This should scare the shit out of any living human being in this planet.

Editor-In-Chief says:

Re: Re:

As has been pointed out elsewhere, while you keep your current electoral system, you won’t get any changes made. How many of you are brave enough to go all out and elect independents into your state and federal government legislatures?

Having only two ponies in the race, precludes any possibilities of changing the results.

David Oliver Graeme Samuel Offenbach

Rekrul says:

Re: Re: Re:

As has been pointed out elsewhere, while you keep your current electoral system, you won’t get any changes made. How many of you are brave enough to go all out and elect independents into your state and federal government legislatures?

The elections are all fixed. When was the last time an independent candidate won?

Mark Slovensky says:

Re: response to ninja

Agreed! Government in its best state is a necessary evil and in its worst state, intolerable. It is especially irritating that this assault on liberty is due to our own consent to be governed by the powers that be. Many are those who hold themselves born to rule and others born to obey. If such actions do not result in our denial of consent to be so governed, we deserve what transpires.

Anonymous Coward says:


Hopefully I can post a link up. I see that youtube video hitting the rounds, but I think the full video shows more. It shows how they were directly targeted, the dismantling of equipment by the police, and how they went after the crew that caught it on film. I think this video needs shared, spread around, more so than the youtube video.

AricTheRed says:

Time to belly up to the table everyone

The soup has been on the stove for a while now, and it’s beginning to boil.

It does not seem as though it’ll be too long before it is ready and everyone will get their share.

And like any big, festive, get-together, there will be a right prize mess to clean-up the morning after. I just hope the hangover is not too bad.

Jeremy Lyman (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I have thought back to The Siege (1998) many times since 2001, particularly this quote by Bruce Willis as General Devereaux about deploying the military on your own citizens.

The Army is a broadsword, not a scalpel. Trust me, senator, you do not want the Army in an American city. Twelve hours after the President gives the order we can be on the ground. One light infantry division of 10,700 men, elements of the Rapid Deployment Force, Special Forces, Delta, APCs, helicopters, tanks, and of course the ubiquitous M16A1 assault rifle. A humble enough weapon until you see it in the hands of a man outside your local bowling alley or 7-11. It will be noisy. It will be scary, and it will not be mistaken for a VFW parade. Make no mistake. We will hunt down the enemy. We will find the enemy. And we will kill the enemy. No card-carrying member of the ACLU is more deadset against it than I am. Which is why I urge you – I implore you – do not consider this as an option.

Candid Cameron says:

Re: Re: Re:

One thing I often wonder about when reading yet another story of excessive force and bad judgment being employed against citizens, usually resulting in the injury or death of an innocent person more often than not, is just how many of these police officers have served in the military. I also wonder whether banning retired soldiers from becoming police officers would help prevent such incidences from happening as often as they do.

Soldiers are taught to view everyone with suspicion and deal with perceived threats instantly by using as much force as they can muster. Shoot first, ask questions later (preferably not at all) really is the typical operating procedure expected of a soldier; identify all threats and destroy them utterly. There is also an element of brainwashing that goes on during their initial training to be expert killers and the only way to deal with that is through proper deprogramming, something that takes a lot of time and dedication and isn’t always successful.

I guess what I’m basically saying is that if society doesn’t want their cops to act like murderous thugs, then perhaps they should demand the government stops hiring exactly that. Note that I have nothing against soldiers. I just question how smart it is to take a well trained killer and shoehorn them into a role meant to “protect and serve” traditionally.

AJ says:

When the people realize they are just as well armed as the police, fully capable and within their rights to fight for the rights and freedoms that have been taken, there will be bloodshed.

Peaceful protest? I don’t think so; when the police show up in tanks and start shooting gas and rubber bullets at news crews, it’s time to fight back.

I’m very sad for this country, sad and afraid.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

It is actually exactly the problem with this kind of militarization. Escalating the counter to potential disturbance is likely to cause a counter-escalation from protesters. It seems to be a problem of fearing escalating social unhappiness as the emperor is revealed to carry no clothes.

The amalysis from the government will be that the openness in administration and whistleblowing is causing the problem and to some degree it is the airing of the dirty underwear that cause it. But instead of avoiding airing them, it may be advantageous to stop soiling them…

themonkeyking145 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Prefaced by saying that I’m not apologizing for the insanity going on up there….BUT:

What this post is talking about is insane. We tend to have a stunted view of history, especially in America, where we don’t learn much beyond the rather short span of time since our country came into existence. If you take a longer view, though, any time large nations “die” it tends to lead to widespread suffering. Saying that’s something to be desired shows either a lack of knowledge, or mental illness. Just my two cents.

AJ says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“Saying that’s something to be desired”

I would hope no one “desires” bloodshed. But again, when the police show up in tanks and military style equipment, that is exactly what they are asking for. The police are escalating the situation, and doing so willfully. They think that a show of military style force will squash the uprising. They are using half ass trained, immature, power drunk police officers, that are just short of completely ignorant of the law. This shit happens in the wrong place, it’s going to go sideways fast.

Look at what happened in Nevada. I’ve never heard of an organized militias showing up to defend a citizen and their land from the government before, but it made me proud…. and scared.

AJ says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Yes… i know.. he’s an insane racist who didn’t want to pay federal grazing fee’s and what not and had personal conversation with God… , I really don’t care if he was right or wrong or what his situation was.. My focus was the fact that there are armed militias prepared to defend Americans should the need arise. Perhaps a better example would be the militias patrolling the border with Mexico. .the point is that 5 years ago, I had no idea they even existed.

Michael Long (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

So a bunch of white rednecks with more rifles than common sense showed up to “defend” Citizen Bundy — as well as take out a few WalMart shoppers in their spare time — and you think that’s a good thing?

Huh. Perhaps it’s time for the Black Panthers and other “militia” groups to rise up once more and march, assault weapons in hand, to Ferguson…

AJ says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

“So a bunch of white rednecks with more rifles than common sense showed up to “defend” Citizen Bundy — as well as take out a few WalMart shoppers in their spare time — and you think that’s a good thing? “

Your as bad as he is with your bigoted comments. I no more believe that all those people that showed up to “defend” Bundy are racists or bigots than I do the people in Fergason, that are protesting the death of that child/man, are all street hoods. Every race has it’s bad apples, that doesn’t mean you start calling all of them names or generalize because your angry.

Plenty of “white” “rednecks” have fought and died for the creation of, and in defense of this great nation, just as every other race. Perhaps the Black Panthers WILL need to rise up to defend our freedoms.. I would be happy, as a white redneck, to stand beside any “militia” Black Panthers or otherwise should it become necessary for me to defend this nation… AGAIN!.. even if it means to defend it from it’s own fucking government…

Michael Long (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

I never claimed they were racist or bigots, though I could direct you to a few accounts as to what happened when some Hispanic supporters attempted to join the troops.

I did imply, however, that were predominately white, predominately from the south, and that they lacked common sense in that they rushed out, gun in hand, to “defend” a thief and a liar from the big bad “guv’ment’.

And your patriotism is noted. But at the moment I’m more worried about the people who happen to think that the problems with this “fucking government” are best solved with an AR-15.

AJ says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

Your “White Redneck” comment wasn’t indicating THEY were bigots? Ok,.. you got me, I didn’t realize that “Redneck” wasn’t a racial epithet.

“But at the moment I’m more worried about the people who happen to think that the problems with this “fucking government” are best solved with an AR-15.”

The only people that are currently bringing AR-15’s, and tanks I may add,to the protest are the “Guv’ment” At what point to the people start fighting back? They were shooting gas and bullets and an obviously non-violent news crew.. should we call the police??

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

“Your “White Redneck” comment wasn’t indicating THEY were bigots? Ok,.. you got me, I didn’t realize that “Redneck” wasn’t a racial epithet.”

Dammit.. I’m so tired I”m half typing my thoughts.. You know what i mean.. lol.

I don’t think your a Bigot Michael. Not anymore than I think those white guys in Nevada, or the black guys in Fergason are all racists or bigots. My point is; However clumsy or disorganized or dangerous it is, we are rapidly approaching a time where were going to have to give more than words to change the course of this nation.. and it scares me a bit. I’ve seen what large scale conflict can do.. it’s not pretty.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

People on both ends of the chaos/order spectrum frequently forget one of the fundamental laws of the universe: the law of eristic escalation: The imposition of order = the escalation of disorder.

The more strongly one imposes order, the greater the disorder that will ultimately result. Militaries are the most obvious examples of this, as are riots that emerge due to police crackdowns. As an aside, the equality works both ways as equalities do: The escalation of disorder = the imposition of order.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Nice idea, but finding one of them willing to risk their own skin to get the required evidence would be quite the tall order. They’re feds after all, and one of the perks of the job is being on the other side of the club/tazer/tear-gas if it comes down to it, why would they give that up just to protect some protestors?

Rekrul says:

Re: Re:

Send in undercover minority feds, watch the criminals (cops) do what they do best, beat, bully and kill people they are supposed to protect.

Then arrest every one of them and send them to a federal pen for assaulting federal officers.

Why would they do that when this is exactly what they were hoping for? No, they didn’t want to see it in the papers and on the news, but beyond that, I’m sure the government is quite pleased with what the Ferguson police have done in regard to the protests. One of the reasons the the US government has been encouraging the militarization of the police is so that they can be used to quell situations of domestic unrest, similar to what’s happening in Ferguson. When the economy hits rock bottom and people start taking to the streets to demand reform, the government wants the equivalent of a domestic army ready to stifle any protest and put the peasants back in their place.

Or do you really believe that armored vehicles, hundreds of assault rifles and thousands of rounds of ammunition are required to bust local crack houses?

Anonymous Coward says:

This is not just about giving civilian police military equipment though. If the focus remains solely on that we miss the real problem. The military mindset that is instilled in these officers has to be changed. The people are not a threat than has to be neutralized. This is not an us vs. them situation. Police are supposed to have a very different mandate.

Anonymous Coward says:

If you ever needed to see a banana republic dictatorship in action, these film clips show it. Be sure that what is under the lights isn’t what is going on away from them.

I don’t recognize this country anymore. The one I grew up in and respected doesn’t look, act, nor think like what as been put on display.

Not only is it time to cut the military budget could buy all this extra gear but it is time to reset this country’s mentality away from a war setting. It is that neo con mentality that has set all this up and we need to disavow and dump those that support these methodologies as this has started with a death… just like the Kent State killings started.

Arthur (profile) says:

Who is the enemy?

Dear police:
The United States is “of the people, by the people and for the people”. When you make us, the people of this country, your enemy you make yourself, by definition, an enemy of the United States.

And this is not just true by definition, this is true in fact. You are the enemy of what the United States was and is supposed to still be: The land of the free.

Jay (profile) says:

Three years...


Three years… I made this comment as an inspiration and a warning based off General Adama’s insight from Battlestar Galactica…

Adama didn’t want to be the president as well as the highest military commander. Such an interest would destroy any form of democratic expression, which was the point.

America IS a police state. There is no denying it now. The no knock warrants, the Sound Cannons, the teargas and tyranny are caused by a long line of undemocratic measures making economic and political progress impossible for the mass of people.

Why did we allow this? Where did we go wrong? It’s not just one event and pointing fingers won’t help. But it’s time to correct the mistakes so that they don’t keep piling up and killing innocent people frustrated at their loss of constitutional rights.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Three years...

There’s no single event where we can point to and say “This. This right here is where everything changed.”
It’s been a continuous erosion over a long period of time but I suppose if you HAVE to have something to blame, the closest thing we have to an event we can point to is probably 9/11 when things seemingly kicked into overdrive.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Three years...

“It’s been a continuous erosion over a long period of time”

This. The thing is that this erosion is a constant — it has always happened and will always happen. It must be guarded against and corrected for constantly.

This is the true meaning of “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.”

Whatever (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Three years...

The problem is that the erosion over time is a two way street. We live in a culture that embraces the concept of “snitches get stitches” and everyone giggles and smiles as they do stuff to ignore, bypass, or get around the law. Society as a whole has become massively disrespectful of everyone in it, and the police response is just that – the response.

Police are in a no win situation, they are tasked with keeping order in a society that has forgotten what order is.

It in no way excuses what the police have done here. The end results on both sides are just a good indication that neither side has the high ground here, it’s just the bottom of the barrel grinding against the stone wheel of official oppression. There is no win here.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Three years...

Society as a whole has become massively disrespectful of everyone in it

Ah I see you stealthily poking at those who infringe copyrights. The issue my clueless padwan is that people will not respect laws that are idiotic or go against what is socially accepted which is what those in power are introducing regularly now.

they are tasked with keeping order in a society that has forgotten what order is.

Their original task is to SERVE the public, not some powers. If the public refuses to obey some law then that law is flawed. The public has the right to protest, to manifest.

The people are in the higher ground. Always. We are not talking about of a small group of vandals, we are talking about consistent protests for a while now. This same disproportionate answer was given to many other peaceful protests in the past.

You suck, really.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Three years...

“the police response is just that – the response.”

I think that’s a clear oversimplification.

Respect for law has declined because many of the laws themselves are unworthy of respect. Sadly, this causes a disrespect for all law, not just bad law. Police behavior also invites disrespect for the exact same reason. Laws and law enforcement have increasingly been disrespectful to the citizens.

Of course, the disrespect from one side leads to further disrespect from the other and so on. This is like a coupled oscillator. It does no good to ask who started oscillating first. Once the system begins, the two continue to reinforce each other until something breaks.

“Police are in a no win situation, they are tasked with keeping order in a society that has forgotten what order is.”

I disagree. Society has not forgotten what order is by a longshot. They simply (and not incorrectly) see the police as a force against order, not for it. The police being in a “no win” situation is something the police themselves help to perpetuate.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Three years...

We live in a culture that embraces the concept of “snitches get stitches” and everyone giggles and smiles as they do stuff to ignore, bypass, or get around the law. Society as a whole has become massively disrespectful of everyone in it…

I disagree with this. Our society has not become “massively disrespectful of everyone in it” at all. What it has become is disrespectful of is being over-legislated.

When the average person inadvertently breaks 3 or 4 laws a day doing normal activities, the blame doesn’t lie with that average person, it lies with our lawmakers. Free thinking people tend to get annoyed when you have to live in a nanny-state.

Our first step should be to eliminate the vast amount of outdated laws on the books. The second step might be to require sunset provisions on all new laws going forward. I’m not 100% convinced sunset provisions would actually help, but it would be a step in the right direction.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Three years...

I’ve long been in favor of having all laws come with an expiration date, for two reasons. First, it gives a pain-free way for legislators to let bad laws go away. Second, lawmakers are paid to make laws and so they will continue to do so. The more of that time they spend reviewing and renewing laws that are about to sunset, the less time they’ll spend adding even more new laws to the books.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:


It occurs to me that there is to some degree a militarized opposition already in existence. What some people might call ‘wacko conspiracy types’, already armed to the teeth. I do not follow these groups in any way. I was just wondering about how, and when, these groups might make their appearances. Or, if they will. My impression is, at least some of them, stand for basic rights.

Cal (profile) says:

Re: Militia's

“It occurs to me that there is to some degree a militarized opposition already in existence. What some people might call ‘wacko conspiracy types’, already armed to the teeth.”

The US Constitution does NOT recognize or authorize a governmental professional law enforcement – federal or state precisely because they are always used against the people.

That “‘wacko conspiracy types’ you refer to is not only recognized by the SUPREME law of this nation but it is the ONLY governmental agency that is given the duties to:
– Enforce the US Constitution and each state’s Constitution,
-Enforce and keep the “Laws of the Union” (which is constitutional laws ONLY),
-Protect the country against all enemies both domestic and foreign, and
-“to suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions”.

It is NOT to governmental professional law enforcement that those military grade weapons are REQUIRED to go to to train with and on, anymore then they are to be handed out to foreign terrorists and nations.

US Constitution, Article I, Section. 8, Clause 11: “To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water”.
This is using private citizens in their own privately owned crafts to defend the USA and her people, this is using the Militia.

Clause 15: “To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel invasions.

This clause is very straightforward. The militia of each state is taxed with the defense of the USA and her people, not just with the defense of their state; and they are to be armed with weapons that can repel any invasions bearing modern weapons of war. Congress is required to provide those military grade weapons for the militias in Clause 16.

Clause 16: “To provide for organizing, ARMING, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress”.

Thomas Jefferson, 1st inaugural, explained that: “a well-disciplined militia” is “our best reliance in peace and for the first moments of war, till regulars may relieve them” and also a guarantee of “the supremacy of the civil over the military authority; [and] economy in the public expense.”

Richard Henry Lee: “A militia, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves …”

George Mason, Co-author of the Second Amendment: “I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few public officials. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them.”

St. George Tucker, a lawyer, Revolutionary War militia officer, legal scholar, and later a U.S. District Court Judge, wrote of the Second Amendment: “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, and this without any qualification as to their condition or degree, as is the case in the British government.” (The Supreme Court has cited Tucker in over forty cases, in the major cases of virtually every Supreme Court era.)

Samuel Adams: “It is always dangerous to the liberties of the people to have an army stationed among them, over which they have no control … The Militia is composed of free Citizens. There is therefore no danger of their making use of their Power to the destruction of their own Rights, or suffering others to invade them..”

Patrick Henry: “If you have given up your militia, and Congress shall refuse to arm them, you have lost every thing. Your existence will be precarious, because you depend on others, whose interests are not affected by your infelicity.”

Tench Coxe: “Who are the militia? are they not ourselves. Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom. Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birth-right of an American…The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.”

Joel Barlow, Revolutionary War veteran, wrote “Advice to the Privileged Orders, in the Several States of Europe”; and American whose political writings were debated on the floor of Parliament said of the US Constitution: “… not only permitting every man to arm, but obliging him to arm.”

Patrick Henry: “The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government.”

Nunn vs. State:’The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.’ The right of the whole people, old and young, men, women and boys, and not militia only, to keep and bear arms of every description, and not such merely as are used by the milita, shall not be infringed, curtailed, or broken in upon, in the smallest degree; and all this for the important end to be attained: the rearing up and qualifying a well-regulated militia, so vitally necessary to the security of a free State. Our opinion is that any law, State or Federal, is repugnant to the Constitution, and void, which contravenes this right”.

Andrews v. State explains, this “passage from Story, shows clearly that this right was intended, as we have maintained in this opinion, and was guaranteed to, and to be exercised and enjoyed by the citizen as such, and not by him as a soldier, or in defense solely of his political rights.”

Cockrum v. State: “The right of a citizen to bear arms, in lawful defense of himself or the State, is absolute. He does not derive it from the State government. It is one of the high powers delegated directly to the citizen, and is excepted out of the general powers of government. A law cannot be passed to infringe upon or impair it, because it is above the law, and independent of the lawmaking power”.

Thomas J. Jackson: “The patriot volunteer, fighting for country and his rights, makes the most reliable soldier on earth.”

Thomas Jefferson:“Every citizen should be a soldier. This was the case with the Greeks and Romans, and must be that of every free state.”

James Madison: “An efficient militia is authorized and contemplated by the Constitution and required by the spirit and safety of free government.”

James Madison: “… large and permanent military establishments … are forbidden by the principles of free government, and against the necessity of which the militia were meant to be a constitutional bulwark.”

John Norton Pomeroy: “The object of this clause [the right of the people to keep and bear arms] is to secure a well-armed militia…. But a militia would be useless unless the citizens were enabled to exercise themselves in the use of warlike weapons. To preserve this privilege, and to secure to the people the ability to oppose themselves in military force against the usurpations of government, as well as against enemies from without, that government is forbidden by any law or proceeding to invade or destroy the right to keep and bear arms.”

State Gazette (Charleston): “No free government was ever founded or ever preserved its liberty, without uniting the characters of the citizen and soldier in those destined for the defense of the state…. Such are a well regulated militia, composed of the  freeholders, citizen and husbandman, who take up arms to preserve their property, as individuals, and their rights as freemen.”

You, armed or not, trained or not, ARE the Militia of your state.

drewdad (profile) says:

Re: firing squad

What we need is Donald Trump pointing the finger at each of them and saying “you’re fired.” Starting with police chief and working down to every last officer involved.

“I was just following orders” stopped being a valid defense about 70 years ago.

Then sue each and every one of the bastards for civil rights violations.

Daniel (user link) says:

I think the quote about separation of police and military you refer to was from Battlestar Galactica: http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/236x/8b/ce/a2/8bcea2ba1e28322a6d60a3d1698138fa.jpg

“There’s a reason you separate military and the police. One fights the enemies of the state, the other serves and protects the people. When the military becomes both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people.”

GEMont (profile) says:

Re: Re:

There’s a reason you separate military and the police. One fights the enemies of the state, the other serves and protects the people. When the military becomes both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people.

I think it’s just a little late for separation actually.

The American Public has already been officially designated the “adversary”, which means it is already the “enemy” of the state. This is most obviously expressed by the government secretly spying on all the communications of all Americans through the NSA, CIA and HSA secret surveillance programs.

What we’re seeing here today, is the state preparing its defenses and offensive strategy against the “adversary”.

If you paraphrase the above a little, you get:

When the Public becomes the Enemy of The State, then the Military and the Police become a single force, indistinguishable by appearance or action. GEM”

Anonymous Coward says:

This isn’t something new that’s all of a sudden just started happening .Our history is riddled with actions against the people Whether it was racially ,union strikes or protesting against a war, protesters in America have seen the butt of a weapon because they protest, until the right to protest is completely cemented into the heads of everyone this will continue to happen.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I know there's a lot wrong here, but...

constitution free zones, free speech free zones, etc. Have you watched the 3rd pirates of the Caribbean film? the part where people are being led to be hanged as a soldier reads out how all their rights have been suspended.

America needs to fight back badly as rolling over and accepting tyranny is not going to end well.

You cannot fight back with peaceful protesting as they have proven they are willing to kill anyone that shows that determination to not submit to the gestapos jackboot.

Tweak (profile) says:

It Can't Happen Here

Has anyone read this book (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It_Can%27t_Happen_Here) by Sinclair Lewis? In spite of the fact that it was first published in 1935, it is scary how similar many of the situations in the book are to 1) the happenings in the run up to WWII in Nazi Germany and 2) the US today. I would recommend it to anyone here.

I’d love to see someone put together a list of quotes from politicians in that book and current members of Congress to see if anyone can pick which are real and which are fiction.

Posse comitatus, habeus corpus and numerous constitutional guarantees disappear as the nation and civilization we thought we knew crumble before our eyes. What will we do? Elections are in the fall. We can try to start again. Let’s get to work, America.

Rekrul says:

Glenn Greenwald is noting that the events in Ferguson are finally dragging the horrors of a militarized police force into the limelight, and I hope it leads to a severe about-face.

It won’t because this is exactly the kind of response the US government wants from local police forces. Sure, they didn’t plan for the protests to be about the killing of a black teenager, or for the events to be splashed across the news, but in every other way, this has been a dry run for what the government wants to happen if there are ever large-scale protests by the unwashed masses. The Ferguson police passed with flying colors. Of course the government would never admit this, but behind closed doors, they’re all high-fiving and fist-pumping.

Here’s exactly what will happen: There will be a few news articles decrying the militarization of the police. Some scholars will write papers on the dangers of militarization. The government will waste a few million dollars on a study that will say that maybe militarization kinda, sorta, might be a problem and that it should be studied more. Some new guidelines will probably be passed in Missouri, which the police will largely ignore. Something else will come along for the news to report on, the public in general will forget about the issue of militarization and it will continue as if none of this ever happened.


GEMont (profile) says:

Rant Warning

I’ll bet even the most obtuse and thick among the American Public are starting to finally notice a trend among their authorities, who apparently, no longer take orders from anyone but themselves. Its probably too late though.

Actually the technical term for this particular type of violent investigatory process, is “Shock Testing

Ferguson is simply a test, to see exactly how much protest the local public initiates and what venues it uses to disseminate those protests – what sort of social & legal repercussions such a state of siege on an American town will generate and what sorts of damage control are needed afterwards – and how well the media can be switched off to prevent “breaking news” from reaching the general population and which journalists and media pose a threat to similar future plans… among other things that are very important for any secretly embedded occupational force to know.

The easiest way to determine that this is not a simple case of runaway emotions coupled with too much fire power, is to look to the federal government. Were this a simple case of police-gone-wild, over-armed and overstepping their authority in a situation filled with emotional tensions, the USG would have stepped in immediately to prevent the possibility of citizen harm.

Instead, the USG appears to be directing the assault from the wings and otherwise just standing back to see how it all turns out. Taking notes so to speak…

That is “Shock Testing”.

The US public might as well get used to it, as they no longer have any legal means of actually preventing the process. They have no legal rights at all actually, beyond those the Federal Government deems necessary from time to time, to keep things looking normal, since the White House declared war in secret session right after 9/11.

All citizen rights are suspended for the duration of the War, which according to the battle plans in PNAC – the Plan for a North American Century (Conquest) – will be about 100 years long.

The plans for a full martial occupation of America by the forces of Fascism (corporatism), have been around for decades, disclosed in vivid detail repeatedly by those the media and the sleeping public calls, conspiracy nuts.

Finally, the rest of you are about to see exactly what those nuts have been talking about for so many years, first hand.

There is no stopping this process. Billionaire Fascists have great patience, indeed, but most of them still want to enjoy the fruits of their labor during their own life times, so this process must now escalate rapidly to maintain momentum and stay ahead of public reaction.

Your only recourse now, is a (completely impossible) full nation-wide strike, and then after martial law is declared to force people back to work, anti-corporate and anti-government citizen-cell sabotage will become absolutely necessary, because the laws of the land are currently suspended for the foreseeable future and the laws of the paper jungle – survival of the richest – are now in full effect.

We now return you to your regular bowl of GM Pablum, GM Canola Oil and GM Yogurt.

Anonymous Coward says:

Right to Revolution

Too many men are being driven to become government-fearing and time-serving because the Government is being permitted to strike out at those who are fearless enough to think as they please and say what they think. This trend must be halted if we are to keep faith with the Founders of our Nation and pass on to future generations of Americans the great heritage of freedom which they sacrificed so much to leave to us. The choice is clear to me. If we are to pass on that great heritage of freedom, we must return to the original language of the Bill of Rights. We must not be afraid to be free. In re Anastaplo, 366 U.S. 82, 116 (1961) (Black, J., dissenting).

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