by Eileen | 9:02 am, February 27, 2013 | Comments Off
Over at Reason, Scott Shackleford has posted a fabulous montage of people refusing to comply with unconstitutional DHS check points and warrantless searches.
In each case, an individual traveling within the continuous United States is stopped with any suspicion and asked to answer questions about citizenship and to provide identification. In several cases, the individuals are also asked to exit their vehicles or consent to a search.
And every one of them beats the system.
I highly recommend watching the clip, not only because it’s so damn feel good but because it’s a great demonstration of how to deal with the hordes of badged autocrats you might encounter in your day-to-day.
In a nutshell, these are all people who avoided surrendering their Constitutional rights without doing anything violent or rude. That’s vital. When a state agent has already stopped you without cause, the last thing you want to do is give him a reason to detain you. Think of it the way you would approach winning any argument; you want to back the other guy into a position where it becomes ridiculous for him to maintain his position.
You don’t win arguments with insults or ridicule or taunts. You win with facts, by knowing the law, and by remaining calm. As Jefferson said, ‘Let facts be submitted to a candid world.”
After the jump, I have bullet points on things we should all remember when dealing with power-mad public employees.
1. Don’t answer prying question. Refuse to answer them and do so politely. “Are you a citizen?”…”That my business.” “Would you please tell me what country you are a citizen of?”…”No, thank you, I will not.”
2. Asked to pull over, to exit their car, to turn over ID, these people just say ‘no’. Try it. Standing up to your government is one of the finest possible feelings.
3. Demand that the official provide his legal right for what he is trying to do. Over and over, you see people asking “What is your probable cause?”, “Where is your warrant?”, “Are you arresting me?”, “Am I being detained?” These are crystal clear questions and no legal authority who is following the law should have any problem is answering you.
Instead, we see people left speechless, we see nervous laughter, we see stuttering and verbal chaff. One agent demands over and over that, if the driver wants to see where his authority for warrantless searches lies, he’ll need to come into the office. Finally, that agent comes back with a hefty binder and dumbly flips through it, knowing the answer isn’t in there but trying to win, all the same.
4. Be prepared to say all these things over and over. Whatever agency you’re dealing with, be ready for the broken record. When they hear something they don’t like, they just ask again, like a three-year-old. As such you’ll see the “You need to exit the vehicle and allow me to perform a search…You are not getting inside this truck with a warrant” call-and-response over and over and over.
But that’s a good thing. These people don’t have the authority to do what they’re trying to do and they are desperately trying to avoid giving yes-or-no answers to yes-or-no questions. Irritating as it is to go through the same stupid series of lines half a dozen times, the people you’re dealing with are poorly trained, not paid well enough to care all that much, and, although they can’t say as much, they probably know they job is vile bullshit just as much as you do.
5. Have your camera rolling before the agent even comes up to you and do not stop filming or turn over your device for any reason. If you’re asked to turn off your camera, ask why any lawful agent of the U.S. government is unwilling to be filmed. Ask what authority allows them to force you to stop filing, to delete footage, or to turn over a camera. If at all possible, upload your footage in real time.
Filing the encounter and doing so obviously is key. I suspect that suspicionless stops by federal gents where no one in the car has a recording device go very differently. Being watched changes how people behave and the state needs to be watched constantly.
6. Follow the agent’s own logic to show why it’s stupid. here’s one exchange you’ll see over and over. The agent demands something she has no right to ask, like, “I need you to drive over to the secondary point” and the individual responds with the obvious question, “Am I being detained?” It will take several rounds of this to get a yes-or-no question instead of a non-sequitor repetition of the initial response. But you’ll finally be told that you are not being detained. From there, the question is, “Am I free to go?”
This is logic that a child can follow. If I am not being detained, then I am free to go. Period.
7. Know what sort of perverse rationale you might encounter; the clip has some interesting tells in how the agencies approach things.
One woman tries to claim she has probably cause to conduct a warrantless search. When pressed for her ‘probably cause’, she comes back with ‘Well, you car is dirty.’
Another agent insists that because RVs have refrigerators, the likelihood of illegal fruit being brought across state lines justifies a warrantless search. I am not kidding.
A pair of burly agents claims the driver gave them probably cause for a warrantless search by refusing to consent to a search, a classic Catch-22 of the ‘privacy and civil liberties are only for criminals’ school of thought that informs so much government ‘reasoning’.
In another encounter, the agent claims he has probable cause to believe two men are not citizens because they won’t turn over ID.
One encounter ends with irate agents sniffing that the driver is at fault for not helping the agents with their job. This really is the way the state looks at things. The primary end is making it as easy as possible for them to do whatever they like and citizens owe to any and all state agents to be meek and accommodating.
Occasionally, the state agents threaten to forcibly “extract” someone from his car or tell a driver they can perform a warrantless search, but they back down as soon as their bluff is called. So, call their bluff. If they really think they are in the right to pull you from your car, cuff you, and search your car without a warrant, then make them do just that.
Just make sure you’re filing all of it.
8. Lastly, understand who these people are. I don’t mean it as an insult so much as an observation. These people are the bottom of the barrel when it comes to security and law enforcement. They are neither highly trained nor highly intelligent. They lack judgment in a roll that calls for judgment first and foremost. They are given rules and told to apply them. They are not encouraged to criticize those rules, no would it occur to most of them that they could. They are told that citizens who won’t cooperate are bad, that someone who won’t consent to warrantless search must be a nefarious international criminal.
And you can use this, by exposing them to a lucid and clear-eyed exposition of the law and by explaining the law to them over and over.
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