Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The US continues it's march towards a police state

The love affair between the police, the tools of repression and many citizens in this country continues apace. For years I have listened to conservatives talk about how we have too many rights in this country (except for the right to bear arms, of course), and this cry got even louder after 9/11. To be fair, there has emerged a vocal minority of conservatives that have begun to share common cause with groups like the ACLU and resist the further erosion of rights in this country, but they are a very small minority in the party (note how the Republicans in Congress will probably overwhelmingly make the Patriot Act permanent, despite misgivings from many Democrats and a few Republicans).

The latest example of the over use of the police and paramilitary to repress took place in Utah, where the police brought in over 100 police officers, including the SWAT team, to take down a rave for a lack of a permit (of course, they had a permit, but the police reasoned that plenty of crimes were taking place on that private property, so the love of private property had to give way to ruthless law and order).

There is even apparently a video of this event as well, where the police use police dogs, tear gas, and profanities (what happened to Mormons not swearing?) while breaking up the event and cracking a few heads (alright, I don't know that any heads were actually cracked, but you know what I mean). The police chief, despite the video proof, went on TV to say he saw the video, approved of the actions, and that there was no force used and no profanity, but that what happened needed to happen to these people.

There was apparently some kind of a whiff (pardon the pun) of political repression going on here, there was talk that this was a big anti-Bush rave in advance of his most recent speech there. Here is a quote that I got from Objective Justice (I will freely concede that this appears to be 3rd generation information, I've tried to get more information on the subject unsucessfully up to now, but certainly this fits in with the MO of the Bush administration in trying to dampen down dissent, such as the fake Secret Service person expelling people from a public Social Security event wiht Bush in Colorado because they had anti-Bush bumper stickers on their car, and later tried to justify it. That is only one of numerous attempts to stifle dissent that the Bush administration or their lackeys have engaged in). Here's the quote:

A source inside the Utah government reports that this action was undertaken out of fear that the Rave would be used to rally support for the protest against Bush's upcoming Utah visit.

I have to say, I can't imagine the police ever going in to an event that's mostly Republican or conservative with such force. This is much more force than was used to remove Israeli settlers (although they are conservatives too, so that's no surprise - police are the same the world over, apparently). I know, I know, Republican-oriented events probably don't have much drug use at them - at least openly, so there wouldn't be the call to crash it like this. But really, a bunch of 15 to 25 year olds smoking pot and doing exstacy, do you really need 100 SWAT team members?

Of course, the law and order conservative types in Utah probably applaud this action. But, according to the accounts of the partygoers, exactly how are you protecting children (from drug use, of course) by coming in there with attack dogs, AK-47s and M-16s, tear gas, and beating people? And why did they need to confiscate so many cameras, or at least force people to turn them off? Whenever you see that stuff, it begins to look like the Condaleeza Rice visit to the Sudan, where reporters were jostled and roughed up (in her presence) after asking difficult questions of the Sudanese president.

This goes back to my previous posts about zero tolerance and things of the like. This take no prisoners, brook no dissent, allow no discussion attitude of police and other authoritarian leaders is truly disturbing. It's so ironic that as we try to make the rest of the world more free, we aren't only reaching out to them trying to pull them closer to us, we're also moving a little closer to them in our attempt to help narrow the divide. If this is narrowing the divide, I'd like to keep the gulf much wider.


BigRedOne said...

Sounds a lot like the UK to me. There's nothing like the erosion of civil rights in the name of security to appease rabid right wingers. I think I'll cry if they manage to introduce the thrice damned identity card here.

btw pd dude, what do you make of this?


Am interested as to whether he is allowed to say that.

Windypundit said...

Yeah, I just put that video up on my blog. The thing that I just can't get over is that the cops are wearing masks. I mean, what kind of peace officers need to do their job wearing masks? Answer: Thugs.

In some ways, however, this video bothers me even more:


It shows a cop who gets into a dispute with a fast-food drive-thru cashier over the change. Rather than settle it through the manager like a normal person, he goes all cop and arrests her. Granted, she responded to the officer unwisely, but it doesn't change the fact that he basically pepper sprayed a 17-year old woman and hauled her off to a cage over a $10 dispute.

By the way, the powers that be don't exactly love gun owners either: