In the true spirit of Thanksgiving, then, which George Washington looked upon as a time to unite in prayer and beseech God “to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed,” here is a list of things about this emerging police state that I am not thankful for and will never remain silent about as long as the government remains the greatest threat to our freedoms.
Police shootings of unarmed citizens. No longer is it unusual to hear about incidents in which police shoot unarmed individuals first and ask questions later. This trend originates from a police preoccupation with ensuring their own safety at all costs, with tragic consequences for the innocent civilians unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. For example, consider the 16-year-old teenager who skipped school only to be shot by police after they mistook him for a fleeing burglar.
SWAT team raids. On an average day in America, at least 100 Americans have their homes raided by SWAT teams (although I’ve seen estimates as high as 300 a day), which are increasingly used to deal with routine police matters: angry dogs, domestic disputes, search warrants, etc. Unfortunately, general incompetence (officers misread the address on the warrant), collateral damage (fatalities, property damage, etc.) and botched raids (officers barge into the wrong house or even the wrong building) tend to go hand in hand with this overuse of SWAT teams, with tragic consequences for the homeowner who mistakes a SWAT raid for a home invasion, such as the 107-year-old Arkansas man killed after a “shootout” with a SWAT team or the 19-year-old Seattle woman who was accidentally shot in the leg by police after she refused to show her hands.
Arresting Americans for altogether legal activities such as picking their kids up from school, holding Bible studies at home, and selling goat cheese. Unfortunately, our government’s tendency towards militarization and overcriminalization, in which routine, everyday behaviors become targets of regulation and prohibition, have resulted in Americans getting arrested for making and selling unpasteurized goat cheese, cultivating certain types of orchids, feeding a whale, holding Bible studies in their homes, and picking their kids up from school. This last incident actually happened in Tennessee, when Jim Howe, a father of two elementary school-aged kids, was arrested and jailed after insisting on walking his son home as soon as school let out rather than waiting 35 minutes for carpoolers to get their kids first.
Whitehead continues a long list of abuses.
Liberty is dying before our eyes… and it’s all so reasonable.
Many of these decisions appear well-meaning—and no doubt many of the law-enforcement officers applying them sincerely believe they’re doing good and right things—but when foundational liberties are infringed we are all in danger.
As the wise saying goes, before you remove a guardrail it is best to carefully consider the reason it was erected in the first place. Otherwise, we may all be going over the cliff together.