How Much Does a Corrupt Cop Cost?

by Will

Liberty Minute March 12 2014

As a patrol officer in Minneapolis, Michael Griffin is paid at least $60,000 a year, but the expenses he has inflicted on the city’s tax victims are much higher. Two lawsuits filed against Griffin for crimes committed off-duty will cost more than $400,000.

Last month, the city council approved a $140,000 payout for attorney fees in the case of Ibrahim Regai, who was punched and kicked by Griffin following an incident in a bar. Griffin, who was off-duty, followed Regai to another club, beat him to the ground, called another cop, and charged the victim with assaulting an officer. The charge was dropped after video evidence demonstrated that Griffin lied about the incident.

In a second episode, Griffin got into an argument at a bar with three men. After they left, Griffin called another officer to the scene to detain them. Griffin assaulted two of the men, knocking one of them unconscious then picking him up and kicking him in the face. The victim, Jeremy Axel, suffered a concussion and had to have several teeth replaced.

Despite losing the subsequent lawsuit, Griffin is still on the force, and hasn’t faced criminal charges. This is typical of Minneapolis, which has made nearly 100 payouts totaling $14 million for police misconduct since 2006.

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. 

Hampton, Florida: A Museum of Civic Iniquity

by Will

Liberty Minute March 11 2014

All governments, as St. Augustine observed, begin as criminal syndicates that achieve dominance over a territory. They distinguish themselves from ordinary robber bands "not by the renouncing of aggression but by the attainment of impunity."

Few things offer a better illustration of that principle than a small-down speed trap, and the tiny town of Hampton, Florida might be the definitive case.

The criminal clique in charge of Hampton converted a 1,260-foot stretch of a busy interstate into one of the country’s most lucrative speed traps. With the revenue it acquired, the municipal government built a police force of nearly 100 officers to patrol a population of about 480 people. The cops were deployed on lawn chairs at roadside, using radar guns to harvest revenue from motorists.

 A recent municipal audit discovered that as much as $1 million in city revenue had simply disappeared. Abuse of official credit cards and cell phones was rampant. City officials were appointed on the basis of nepotism and wildly overpaid. The last mayor, Barry Lynne Moore, operated a narcotics ring with the connivance of city police until he was arrested by sheriff’s deputies.

Hampton embodied the criminal proclivities to which all political governments are prone. It should be preserved as a museum of civic iniquity.

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. 

Murder Through Torture in a Vermont Jail

by Will

Liberty Minute March 10 2014

Vermont resident Robert Taylor, a homeless man and long-term alcoholic, died sometime last December of starvation and related neglect while in the Burlington County Jail.

Taylor should have been taken to a hospital, but jail officials insist that this was too expensive. Instead, he was placed in a segregation unit, dressed in a suicide-prevention smock commonly referred to as a “turtle suit,” and then abandoned.

During his incarceration, Taylor wasn’t given a morsel of food, a mattress, a blanket, or a single shower. Taylor’s neighbor in the segregation unit, an accused robber named Sean Tyrzanski, pleaded with guards to take Taylor to the hospital. His pleas were ignored – as was Taylor, apart from demeaning comments from guards about the elderly man’s condition. Rather than checking on Taylor’s health, guards would simply spray air freshener into the cell to mask the odor emitted by the dying man. 

When his captors finally checked on him, the elderly man’s lifeless body was found lying in a puddle of feces and urine.

A cursory investigation by the District Attorney found no evidence of “criminal wrongdoing” in Taylor’s death.

This was murder through torture, a summary punishment that was cruel but by no means unusual in the American gulag.

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. 

An Unlawful Arrest is a Crime

by Will

Liberty Minute March 7 2014

Oklahoma City resident Robert Biegler heckled a police officer during a traffic stop, which may be a bad idea, but it’s not a crime.

Biegler, who was driving a pickup, yelled “Road rage sucks!” when he saw Sgt. Matt Downing issuing a ticket to a driver at an intersection. Downing abandoned the puzzled driver and took off in pursuit of Biegler, who wasn’t aware he was being followed. After Biegler stopped at a convenience store, Downey pulled up, snarled “You think you’re pretty smart,” threw Biegler to the ground, and stuffed him into his vehicle.

Downing’s supervisor arrived shortly thereafter, and released Biegler. Sgt. Downing, a 15 year veteran, was placed on paid vacation. His record includes several complaints of excessive force, including an assault on a handcuffed suspect that left the victim permanently disabled. He had never been fired, demoted, or placed on unpaid suspension. However, as a result of his attack on Biegler, Downing now faces charges of assault and battery.

An unlawful arrest is an assault and an attempted abduction, and citizens have the right to resist. Sgt. Downing’s supervisor is to be commended for understanding and acting on that principle.

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. 

Police: Useless, Not Harmless

by Will

Liberty Minute March 6 2014

Anthony Vuona of Worcester, Massachusetts was beaten and robbed by two unidentified assailants during a home invasion. He called the police, who have failed to find the suspects or the stolen cash and jewelry. However, they did arrest Vuona after they found marijuana in his basement. Now the victim of a crime of violence is facing the prospect of a prison term for indulging in an act that didn’t injure anybody else.

This incident offers a microcosm of the hopelessly skewed priorities of what is called our criminal justice system. The only legitimate purpose of peace officers is to apprehend people suspect of crimes of violence or fraud. Government police agencies, by way of contrast, enforce laws that make criminals out of people whose actions inflict no harm on anybody else. Their primary mission is not to protect the property of individuals, but to act in the interest of a class that claims the supposed authority to regiment the lives of other people.

This is the main reason why the US prison system is the largest of any nation in history. Owing to the perverse incentives of the drug war, police are more eager to arrest a non-violent pot smoker than the violent offenders who beat and robbed him.

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. 

The Right to Discriminate

by Will

Liberty Minute March 5 2014

New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez was a regular customer of hair stylist Antonio Darden. About two years ago, Darden decided that he would no longer accept the Governor’s business because of her opposition to the novel social arrangement called same-sex marriage.

Six years before Darden dropped Gov. Martinez as a customer, New Mexico resident Elaine Huguenin, who runs a photography business, declined a request to photograph what was described as a wedding ceremony between two women. Rather than finding another photographer willing to take their business, the women filed a complaint with a bureaucratic body calling itself the Human Rights Commission. That agency ruled that Huguenin had violated a state law against “sexual orientation discrimination” and imposed a $7,000 fine.

The New Mexico Supreme Court upheld the fine, and the case may be headed to the US Supreme Court.

As a business owner, Antonio Darden has an unconditional right to accept or reject customers for any reason he chooses. The same is true of Elaine Huguenin, or any other business owner, whether or not that right is respected by those presuming to rule us. Anti-discrimination ordinances permit the totalitarian micro-management of social relationships and nullify property rights – which is why they must be repealed.

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. 

Idaho anti-Sharia Bill: A "Solution" in search of a Problem

by Will

Liberty Minute for March 4 2014

  A measure before the Idaho Legislature has been described by its sponsors as a pre-emptive strike against the imposition of Islamic law. At very best, that bill represents a dubious solution in search of a non-existent problem.

 The bill would prohibit the use of what is called foreign law for the purpose of private arbitration, if it would be seen as undermining rights protected by the US Constitution. It would also deny people the option of seeking religious arbitration for commercial and social matters. 

The inspiration for this bill is fear of what has been called “Creeping Sharia Law” – a supposed effort by Muslims to infiltrate our legal system and modify it to conform with the Koran. This genuinely unsettling prospect is, at most, a distant possibility. However, as written the proposed Idaho statute would forbid the use of long-established Jewish courts of arbitration, which are called Beth Din. It would also impose on the religious liberty and contract rights of peaceful, law-abiding Muslims who seek to apply their religious tenets in arranging for wills and similar matters.

 Nearly identical bills passed in other states have been struck down as unconstitutional. The proposed Idaho measure would fare no better, nor should it.

 Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free.

Diplomacy: YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG.

by Will

LibertyMinute March 3 2014

  The purpose of diplomacy is to protect the nation's interests in a fashion that maximizes advantages while minimizing potential problems.

 American diplomacy during recent decades has followed exactly the opposite course: It has undermined our legitimate national interest while engendering animosity on the part of countries that are not necessarily our enemies

The actions of the Obama administration inUkraine followed that pattern precisely. Covert action sponsored byWashington helped precipitate the overthrow of the elected president and the installation of l a government hostile to neighboringRussia. This resulted in a de facto schism of the country between the European-friendly northern and western section, and the country's southern and eastern portion, which is sympathetic toRussia. 

Putin's government has intervened in Ukraine, citing concerns over the country's ethnic Russian population. Rather that exercising its influence to help de-escalate the situation, the Obama administration has responded by threatening Russia. And there is a 20-year-old diplomatic agreement Washington could invoke to justify intervening on behalf of its new proxy government in Ukraine.

 All of this is reminiscent of the diplomacy that led to the world-disfiguring tragedy called World War I almost exactly one century ago. 

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free.

Only Killing Without State Permission is "Murder"

by Will

Liberty Minute for February 28 2014

Alfred Whitehead heard screams outside his home in Alamogordo, New Mexico at 11 PM on February 23. He also heard the voice of a small boy yelling, “Don’t hurt my mommy.”

When Whitehead looked out the window he saw a woman being beaten by a much larger man. Whitehead grabbed a gun and went to confront the assailant. According to investigators, Whitehead ordered the aggressor to stop. The enraged man then charged at Whitehead, who fired a single shot that killed him.

If Whitehead had been a police officer, he would have been able to invoke “qualified immunity” and been granted a “cooling-off period” before the investigation proceeded. If evidence emerged impeaching his judgment, investigators would insist that his actions were sound as long as they fit within established policy guidelines.

That approach was followed in a recent case in Santa Fe in which a police officer shot and killed a 78-year old private security officer when both responded to a burglar alarm.

If Whitehead had been a cop, he would most likely have been given a commendation. But he is a common citizen, which is why he was arrested and charged with murder by government officials who are selectively exempt from the laws they enforce.

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. 

When Police Kill and Call It "Help"

by Will

Liberty Minute February 27 2014

Susan Stuckey, an emotionally troubled 47-year-old resident of Prairie Village, Kansas, didn’t want to go to the mental hospital. When police materialized on her doorstep at dawn on March 31, 2010, they told her they wanted to perform a “welfare check.” They were lying, and Susan knew it: The police captain in charge of the operation later admitted that their intent was to take her to the hospital involuntarily.

The police weren't investigating a crime. They were carrying out a much more dangerous function: They were there to "help" Stuckey, and her desires were irrelevant to them. While the police negotiator was on the phone telling Stuckey “We’re here to help you,” snipers were setting up on nearby rooftops. Eventually two police officers broke into her home and shot her, claiming they were in fear for their lives because the frantic woman was “armed” with a broom.

The police claimed the troubled woman committed “suicide by cop.” Her bereaved mother correctly pointed out that the police should have prevented the fatal outcome, and had the means to do so. Now city tax victims have been compelled to underwrite a $560,000 settlement with Stuckey’s family.

Never forget: Unless you’re willing to see someone get killed, don’t call the police.

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. 

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