A reflection on the this country’s independence and the meaning of the 4th, this past 300 years…. how far we’ve come and what we’ve let slip…
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Transcript of the video — it’s not exact as there’s some improv and editing throughout the process. Many sources can be found within the video itself although hoping to have the resources in the future to include sources for every fact mentioned in word-for-word transcripts.
My name’s Matthew Cooke and this is a CALL TO ACTION. “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…” That’s the 4th Amendment in our bill of rights.
During the Colonial era, the King of England looked at the American colonies as a financial investment. And so, Britain passed numerous revenue collection bills aimed at generating as much money from the colonists as possible. The King didn’t stop there, he created more laws to allow his agents to enter someone’s property or home and forcibly interrogate any occupant to find out what sort of goods and licenses they were carrying, to find excuses for further taxes and levies.
These searches and seizures were an egregious offense to the people of the colonies. And in 1761, the famous lawyer James Otis who founding father John Adams called a “master of the laws of nature and nations,” referred to the legal regulations justifying these intrusions “the worst instrument of arbitrary power, the most destructive of liberty-and the fundamental principles of law, that ever was found in a lawbook.”
These “legal” violations of liberty became one of the major colonial grievances that lead to the revolutionary war. And so in our bill of rights we have the 4th Amendment: “The right of the people to be secure… against unreasonable searches and seizures.”
And yet today, when one investigates many applications of the law, this is exactly what we find. CNN calls it “policing for profit”: But this isn’t just Ferguson. This is everywhere.
The National Motorists association says local governments deliberately hide how many traffic tickets and vehicle infractions are actually levied so they don’t have to split their ticket revenue with the state. NOT including parking tickets, they estimate anywhere between 25 and 50 million tickets are issued each year generating revenue ranging from 4 to over 7.5 billion dollars. And that doesn’t include court fees that can pile up if one doesn’t get their paperwork just right.
The Motorists Association says this has virtually nothing to do with public safety, and everything to do with money. A strong incentive to find ways to place the public in violation of the law, and collect more revenue. There are many alternatives to administering safe streets besides traffic tickets. There could be community service requirements for example. But instead of finding alternatives to this conflict of interest between public safety and a money grab… over the last decades government has been upping the ante.
Today, there are an estimated 45,000 SWAT raids every year. A violent, paramilitary invasion on 124 American homes every day – or more likely night. Originally created for hostage and barricade situations 80% of SWAT raids are used to search homes, usually for drugs, and disproportionately, in communities of color. Some of you may have heard the story of Baby Bou Bou.
A local sherrifs department in Georgia was looking for a drug dealer, and tossed a flash grenade into a room occupied by four small children. The grenade landed in the play-pen of a little boy, only 19 months old. The officers shouted at the boy’s mother telling her to calm down yelling that her son was fine.
Hours later when they finally let them get to a hospital they found the child in the intensive burn unit and that he’d been placed into a medically induced coma. “It blew open his face and his chest,” the boy’s mother reported. “Everybody was asleep. It’s not like anyone was trying to fight.”
Then there’s Jose Guerena, a Marine – a veteran of the Iraq war, shot 22 times in his kitchen in Tucson, Arizona, by officers in a Swat team that was searching for marijuana. They refused to let his wife call an ambulance and Geurena died. No marijuana was found. Military experts called the raid “amateur, undisciplined, unrehearsed and ineffective.”
County officials settled out of court but said the settlement did not imply wrongdoing. And nothing has changed in national policy. Obviously the situation in which we find ourselves today, is far, far worse than the policing-for-profit the colonists were experiencing.
And although many call out for change — a culture of “obedience to authority” has now been entrenched for decades convinced by the “tough on crime” crowd that these laws are worth defending — laws our earliest patriots called “the worst instruments of arbitrary power… that were ever found in a lawbook.”
So how do we make our voices heard and restore our 4th amendment rights? It is INCREDIBLY dangerous, even fatal to argue with a police officer so my answer is in the courts of public opinion, with our votes and by banding together.
By joining the organizations fighting for your liberty and getting involved locally. Vote only for representatives that believe in criminal justice reform.
And support and praise the brave police officers who use discretion and patience, putting their lives on the line to serve the public good over any other master.
In the past 300 years we’ve made a lot of progress: we started a democracy, ended slavery, segregation, women got the right to vote, we created a 5 day work week and legalized marriage for any couple who love one other just to mention a few.
So don’t be discouraged. We may have taken a few steps back here and there and have a long way to go to reach the promise land but as the great American freedom fighter [Martin Luther King Jr] said, Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. We’re all in this together. I hope you’ll do your part.
Have a safe and peaceful day.