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American Uprising? Probably not.

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irishlover Donating Member (23 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-13-11 07:13 PM
Original message
American Uprising? Probably not.

On March 1, 2011, after a long, dreary winter, my twenty-something daughter and a girlfriend were heading to a local tanning salon less than a mile from their house. On the way they noticed they were following a Maryland transportation authority vehicle equipped with rear mounted cameras and other equipment and joked that they should say nice things about the police in case they were being audio recorded. Upon arrival at the salon, they were surprised to find they were blocked in by this same vehicle. The officer stated he ran her tags and found her registration was suspended (not true) and the car insurance had lapsed (also not true). When she tried to check her tags he blocked her movement and confiscated her tags, issued her two citations amounting to around $400.00 and told her to get the car towed. In the meantime another officer arrived, unidentified, in an official car while the first officer, having now run her license, noted a DUI over 2 years old which had long been resolved and subsequently proceeded to not only search both womens purses, but tore the car apart. A few days later, documentation in hand, my daughter attempted to retrieve her tags from the department of motor vehicles only to be told they had been destroyed. The case will go to court in June and the DMV has no idea why. Best case scenario? A glitchy database and an over zealous or bored employee. Whether this was an illegal stop remains to be determined. That this was an illegal search is clear. We want access to the video and audio of the stop and all written documentation. Without a lawyer and a subpoena, this will not be available to us until after adjudication in June, when this evidence is likely to go the way of the tags. Case closed? Well see.
Why tell this little story about my daughter? Whatever your political affiliation, its hard to explain the use of such elaborate and expensive homeland security equipment, paid for by taxpayers, to pursue two local women who were not breaking any law. A few years ago I wrote an article on St Johns County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and the resources available in case of disaster. I was treated professionally and granted access to the center, the director and several employees. There was an almost plausible denial when I asked about the countys relationship with the Joint Terrorism Task Force which led me later to further research on resources that could be brought to bear against the public in times of dissent.
A little history here: Way back in October 2003, when just about everybody realized after 9/11 that rescue operations needed to be on the same page, not to mention the same kind of radios, President Bush issued HSPD 5 and HSPD 8. (Homeland Security Presidential Directives). HSPD 5 told jurisdictions to get their act together on incident reporting by "establishing a single, comprehensive national incident management system." HSPD 8 required "a national domestic all-hazards preparedness goal, with established mechanisms for improved delivery of Federal preparedness assistance to State and local governments." St Johns County stepped up early to comply.
Here are some of the resources St Johns County can bring to bear during any disaster:
A comprehensive, scalable plan with reporting, tracking and cooperation among Emergency Support Functions and with lots of ancillary organizations like Salvation Army, churches and Red Cross,
A brand new Emergency Operations Center out SR 16, off CR 208,
5 Stationary cameras around town with zoom and infrared capabilities (with more planned) feeding into the EOC,
Access to various aircraft from other regions and 1 county helicopter with live video feed capability to the emergency operations center, media, and government,
A SWAT team and SWAT vehicles,
A Hazmat team and vehicle,
A bomb robot, a certified bomb team and bomb truck,
A mobile media communications center with TV, satellite, radio, internet and video feed capabilities,
A Command Task Force Unit with conference area, flat screens monitors, video mast, radio, TV, internet capabilities,
Underwater rescue vessel and diving teams,
and a Mutual Aid Agreement with other counties, regions and the state if things get really crazy, which brings me to several other levels of support.
From their website: Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs) are small cells of highly trained, locally based, passionately committed investigators, analysts, linguists, SWAT experts, and other specialists from dozens of U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies. It is a multi-agency effort led by the Justice Department and FBI designed to combine the resources of federal, state, and local law enforcement.
Local task force fusion centers have been set up all over the nation to provide the coordination between federal (FBI, ICE and DHS) state and local law enforcement in the event of an attack, a natural disaster and civil unrest. These centers have armed security guards authorized to shoot to kill in the event of an emergency. Ours is conveniently located in Jacksonville, the one no one seemed to want to discuss during the writing of my article.
Then theres Infragard, a creepy corporate/security coalition that demands the anonymity of an AA meeting. From their Jacksonville website which is updated as of this writing: InfraGard is a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) program that is dedicated to promoting information sharing between the public and private sectors regarding critical infrastructure protection issues.
The goal of InfraGard is to enable the flow of information so that the owners and operators of infrastructure assets can better protect themselves and so that the United States government can better discharge its law enforcement and national security responsibilities. I dont think their main focus is merely making sure citizens have access to drinking water or shelter in case of a hurricane.
However, not just anyone can join and once youre in, you cant really talk about anything to anybody and you have to agree to some procedures when discussing what Infragard really does:

Independent of the type of presentation, (interview, brief, or published documentation) the InfraGard leadership and the local FBI representative should be made aware of the upcoming presentation. The InfraGard member and the FBI representation should agree on the theme of the presentation.
The identity of InfraGard members should be protected at all times. Names of individual members or their employers should not be disclosed without the permission of the individual and the employer. What do you call this unholy and secretive alliance of corporate/government/local law enforcement? I call it alarming.
Theres more. Local law enforcement agencies have been receiving military equipment courtesy of Department of Homeland Security for years. Were talking semi-automatic weapons, helicopters, tanks, combat gear. Some municipalities are now dressing their forces in black, resembling SWAT commandos instead of your friendly local peace officer.
Finally lets not forget HR 1955, passed in an overwhelming 400-to-6 vote by the House of Representatives in 2007 in Patriot Act haste: The Homegrown Violent Radicalization Terrorism Act, which died in the Senate, twice, thankfully.
H.R. 1955 defines "homegrown terrorism" and "violent radicalization" nebulously; the former is merely "the use, planned use or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual born, raised, or based and operating primarily within the United States or any possession of the United States to intimidate or coerce the United States government, the civilian population of the United States, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives," while the latter means "the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious or social change." Ideologically based violence, in turn, is defined as "the use, planned use or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual to promote the group or individual's political, religious or social beliefs." Force or violence is conveniently not defined.
Sounds fair enough, until you start crunching the language and come to the realization that practically anyone protesting anything, on any given day, could fit the description. Which is vague on purpose, as one realizes the further one digs.
We still have in place the National Security Letters which enable FBI access to private citizens library records, telecommunications and personal residences and businesses. We still have the telecommunications industrys monitoring without warrant our calls and location. Witness the recent congressional pandering by Apple and others that this information is secure and necessary. Uh huh. And now the Judiciary Committee in Congress is set to pass the renewal of the mostly still unread and misunderstood Patriot Act which keeps most of these ridiculous spying-on-Americans tactics in place.
As the economy worsens, particularly here in Florida with draconian cuts to crucial social services, an unemployment rate of over 11% with the legislature just cutting benefits by 3 weeks, mandatory drug testing (paid for by these unfortunate individuals as well as all state employees based on no evidence of drug use at all) just so that corporations can receive tax breaks that will have no impact on the deficit, people will become angry, desperate and start to resist. Now that youre aware of just some of the force that can be brought to bear against peaceful protestors, youre bound to be as intimidated as my daughter. On her small case, we have decided to fight back. We want answers. We have decided some things are worth standing up for, like what used to be called the Fourth Amendment.
The First Amendment guarantees us right of peaceful assembly among other things. Can we defend our Constitution by standing our ground and not, as so many claim to be doing right now, in wrong-headed, vicious and uneducated words? Will we be intimidated or will we fight? Knowledge is power and now you have some knowledge. That means you have the power and that means you have to fight. This issue is beyond politics. This issue is at the very core of what we used to call freedom in America. We cannot remain silent. We cannot back down. We cannot give up. It will call for courage and sacrifice, in big ways and small. Can we do it?

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Curmudgeoness Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-13-11 07:28 PM
Response to Original message
1. What happened to your daughter is truly scary. I would be
very intimidated, and I am not easily intimidated. And I would be really pissed. I am glad that you are going to fight back. And I hope that it helps. If there is nothing more to this story, I would go to the press and hope that there is someone there who understands the repercussions to this. They have effectively taken her car off the road for at least a month until the court date, and who knows how long after that to get it straightened out and new plates. And that is if it doesn't go any further.

Good luck.
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kath Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-13-11 08:19 PM
Response to Original message
2. Is the ACLU involved in this?
If not, you really should give them a call.
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elocs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-13-11 08:24 PM
Response to Original message
3. Got to be honest, huge paragraphs are tough to read. n/t
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irishlover Donating Member (23 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-14-11 05:24 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. Thanks for the input
You can see I don't post often but should have remembered long posts are tedious. I was intent on starting with a small unreported incident and broadening out to wider picture. There's so much more I left out: mobile police/guard towers in Walmart parking lots like in terror capital Hickory NC, in case the Walmart shoppers get out of control, clearly marked police and of course tied in with video surveillance, all the crap that went down during the Dem but especially the Rep conventions, and the stuff that happened in my hometown of Pittsburgh during the G20, which made it unrecognizable to me.
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GeorgeGist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-14-11 11:21 AM
Response to Original message
5. Sounds like Osama won ...
that battle over Freedom and Justice.
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NikRik Donating Member (185 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-20-11 09:07 AM
Response to Original message
6. Live in a town with very little crime yet .......
the police have all of the toys you mentioned +. It seems like such a waste when the county sherrif also has all of this same equipment and its all located just minutes from eachother. Definitly over kill excuse the pun.When I think how even a small fraction of this money could have been used for things that that would benifit the children and the town in a much more positive way. Instead of all this milatary type equipment that so far only use has been toys for our much to large police force to go out and play with once in awhile?Does all this stuff make me fell safer,big fat NO in fact its the opposite I feel having this stuff in our town is more a danger then a deterant.
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jul61252 Donating Member (50 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-02-11 05:14 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. true
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