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Who Watches the Watchmen?

Posted: August 17, 2016 at 10:30 am   /   by

It’s one thing to be told you must obey the law. But what being told to obey a cop who is acting contrary to the law?

This happens routinely – and (usually) without consequences.

For the cop, that is.

Here are a few examples:

In many states, it is still legal to “open carry” – that is, to openly carry a firearm on one’s hip (in a holster) or a rifle slung over one’s back… and so on. That is the law. Cops are supposed to know the law as well as enforce the law.

And, more to the point, to be bound by the law.

Not infrequently, they enforce their own law with regard to open carry.

Many videos of such interactions may be viewed on YouTube and so on. A citizen open-carrying his firearm and doing absolutely nothing contrary to the law finds himself confronted by a threatening/order-barking cop who has no legal authority to do this.

The law is clear. It does not matter.

The cop typically begins by demanding ID. Absent probable cause that a crime has been committed or is about to be committed, the cop is already out of legal bounds. The accosted person has every legal right to simply go about his business; to walk away.

God help him if he does so.

The cop’s claim (as an example) that it is “suspicious” to walk around in public with a pistol on one’s hip – or that the sight of this has “alarmed” someone (a Clover) who then called in hysterically to police about it – is irrelevant as far as the law is concerned.

Unless the person was threatening people with his gun (the mere sight of it being openly carried doesn’t qualify) he is acting within the bounds of the law.

And yet, he finds himself being hassled by the law.

Eventually, after much rigamarole, he is “free to go.”

There are no consequences for the cop who – using threats and intimidation – abused a citizen contrary to the law.

Another example, recently detailed in a video posted by Will Grigg and also made infamous by the infamous Sandra Bland case:

A motorists is pulled over by a cop for a minor traffic infraction. The cop is within the law to do this. What happens next is another matter.

In the Grigg video and the Bland case, the cop orders the driver to put out the cigarette they are smoking. He has no legal authority whatsoever to do this. While it may be against the law to smoke in a bar these days, your car is still your car – and smoking a cigarette in your own car is still (for the moment) legal.

And yet, in the Grigg video and the Bland case, the drivers’ assertion to that effect – that is, their refusal to submit to an unlawful order – resulted in extreme belligerence. In the Grigg video, it initiated a dramatic escalation of the traffic stop – a minor speeding ticket (74 MPH in a 65 MPH zone) became  a cuff-and-stuff, with the utterly harmless, not-“resisting” middle-aged white male driver grossly abused by a state-costumed thug, who “placed the man under arrest” – that is, manacled him and carted him off to jail. In the Bland case, the consequences escalated to lethal. In a pique of rage triggered by Bland’s refusal to submit to the state-sanctioned thug’s unlawful order – to his personal order – Bland was violently dragged from her vehicle, wrestled to the ground and then manacled and taken to jail, where she later died under very sketchy circumstances.

Why are there no consequences for cops who act contrary to the law?

Shouldn’t cops know the law?

Be held to the law?

Of course, but that’s not how it plays out.

If a citizen, who finds himself accosted by a cop, dares to assert the actual law – and seek its protections – it not infrequently is taken as a personal challenge to the law enforcer’s prickly “authoritah” – which these days is the real law on the street. Instead of backing down and – heaven forbid, apologizing to the citizen for having over-stepped his legal authority – the affronted enforcer often will escalate.

You know, to show who’s boss.

Why is this not severely punished, particularly when there is incontrovertible video evidence of it. Of a violation of the law?

Think about that.

A person does something blatantly illegal – accosting an open carrier, ordering a person to not smoke in their car, demanding ID of a person standing on their own private property, having done nothing whatsoever contrary to the law themselves – and there are no repercussions.

And there are no repercussions because the person violating the law is an official enforcer of the law.

These persons are effectively given sanction to abuse us with impunity, because the law does not apply to them.

Same goes for “speeding” (which they do – and get away with – routinely). Their exemption from “buckle up ” and “distracted” driving statutes.

And they wonder why they are hated by so many.

No matter where you stand on the political-philosophical spectrum, from “law and order” Republican to no harm, no crime Libertarian, all can agree – hopefully – that at bare minimum, the enforcers of the law ought to know the law – and be bound by the law. Just as we are.

Is it too much to ask?

Really?

Image Source: Michaelpugh (Own work)/Wikimedia Commons
License: CC BY 3.0

Eric Peters

Eric Peters

Team Writer at Western Free Press
Eric Peters writes about cars, mobility and liberty.

He has been covering these topics for 25-plus years as a columnist and author, including several years as an editorial writer/columnist for The Washington Times and contributor to newspapers and magazines around the country, including the Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, Detroit News and Free Press, American Spectator and many others.

His books include Automotive Atrocities and Road Hogs. His latest book, Doomed, will be available next spring.

Eric lives in rural SW Virginia - as far as he could get from Northern Virginia without actually leaving the state.
Eric Peters

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