“For Your Own Protection”

HandcuffsMilitant Libertarian – by William N. Grigg

There is no situation that cannot be made instantly and immeasurably worse through police intervention. A splendid illustration of this principle is found in a recent ruling from the the Arkansas Court of Appeals.

According to the court, police were entitled to arrest, taze, and beat a teenager who had done nothing more sinister than speak to his mother on the street in front of their home. A police officer accosted the young man – who, as a juvenile, is identified only by the initials “R.R.” — after he saw him approaching a woman who was walking a dog.  

The officer, who belongs to a social cohort of people who are distinguished primarily by their timidity, claimed that he was “concerned for the woman’s safety.” His fears should have been allayed when it was established that the woman was the teenager’s mother.

If the cop had been an actual peace officer, he would have tipped his hat and left. But he was a law enforcer – that is, someone through whose dark ministrations innocent people are transformed into “criminals” – and so he insisted on detaining and interrogating the entirely harmless youngster. To that end he sent for “backup,” and a thugscrum soon coalesced around the puzzled and terrified teen.

As the Court of Appeals summarizes, R.R. was “tasered several times, removed from the backseat [of a police vehicle], thrown to the ground, tasered again, kicked, handcuffed, and arrested.” All of this was done because the young man “moved around and wrestled around while the officers held him on the ground, making it difficult for the officers to put the cuffs on him.”

Because he didn’t permit himself to be shackled like a slave in front of his own home because he had been seen speaking to his mother, the teenager committed the supposed crime of “refusing to submit to arrest.”

The trial court in the case also acknowledged that the victim was “a fine young man, an excellent student, and active in sports, clubs and church activities.” The judge reportedly expressed dismay that “an innocent situation … just completely got out of hand” – which is, once again, the familiar and entirely predictable outcome when members of the State’s enforcement caste materialize. Despite these superficial expressions of regret, the Judge sentenced the victim to serve one day in detention – thereby leaving him with a criminal record because he had been on the receiving end of a state-aggravated assault.

Like most communities in its section of the country, Pope County, Arkansas, where that incident occurred, is thickly populated with Evangelical Christians, whose numbers probably include most elected officials, prosecutors, judges, and police officers. At some point in Sunday School they probably read the 22nd chapter of the Book of Acts, which describes how the Apostle Paul, accused of disturbing the peace, was arrested by Roman occupation soldiers and taken to a local barracks to be questioned under scourging.

As the interrogator was preparing to whip the apostle, Paul pointed out to the centurion in charge that it was illegal to flog a Roman citizen unless he had been tried and convicted of a crime. This objection caused the interrogator to desist immediately, and prompted the officer in command to express the fear that he could face criminal charges because he had chained – that is, handcuffed – a Roman citizen.

Every day in this supposedly free country, police commit an act that was impermissible for their antecedents in imperial Rome: In the name of “officer safety,” they handcuff American citizens who are not criminal suspects while conducting investigations. Police also routinely inflict summary punishment – using batons, Tasers, pepper spray, or other means – against those who resist being detained without cause. Within a few years police will have at their disposal handcuffs that can impart electrical shocks to detainees.

In an 1894 essay published by The Strand Magazine, Inspector Maurice Moser of Scotland Yard wrote that the earliest historical mention of handcuffs was in the fourth century B.C., “when soldiers of a conquering Greek army found among the baggage of the routed Carthaginians several chariots full of handcuffs, which had been held ready in confident anticipation of a multitude of prisoners.”

“My personal experience of handcuffs is small, because I dislike them,” wrote Inspector Moser of the restraints. He pointed out that in Belgium, which at the time was the seat of a substantial empire, “the use of handcuffs by police is entirely forbidden.”

Like most police officers of his era, Moser was a relatively civilized man who found the act of shackling another human being to be barbarous and punitive. Handcuffing a human being certainly doesn’t enhance the safety of the person being restrained. Nor does it relieve police anxieties about the all-encompassing threat to that most sacred of considerations, “officer safety.” Witness the large and ever-growing number of cases in which officers – almost always in the plural, of course – beat, tazepepper-spray, and even shoot suspects who have already been handcuffed.

Last summer, police in Aurora, Colorado indiscriminately handcuffed and detained scores of people for the space of more than four hours following an armed robbery at a branch of Wells Fargo bank.

According to Officer Frank Fania, drivers and passengers in the vicinity “were handcuffed, then were told what was going on and were asked for permission to search the car. They all granted permission, and once nothing was found in their cars, they were un-handcuffed.

Aurora, Colorado, June 2012.

Once the victims were handcuffed, of course, they had no choice but to grant “permission” for their abductors to paw through their vehicles. What if they had withheld consent? What if they had refused to endure the indignity and injury of being handcuffed in the first place?

Fania insisted that the mass arrests were necessary and justified because it was a “unique” situation. But it’s more honestly described as mass application of the standard approach to “protective” detention of individuals who are not criminal suspects.

Owing to the semantic deviousness of police and prosecutors, citizens are increasingly unsure of their status when they are accosted by police: Are they under arrest, or subject to “investigatory detention”?  If the citizen isn’t formally under arrest, is he free to leave? Can police draw their guns and threaten a citizen with lethal force if he is not formally under arrest?

That last question has been addressed in a recent ruling by Louisiana’s Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal, which held that those circumstances do not constitute a formal arrest – at least when the legitimacy of that arrest is questioned by the defendant.

On June 8, 2010, Robert Carter of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana parked outside a convenience store. Acting on a tip from a snitch that Carter would soon arrive at the location to conduct a drug deal, two undercover detectives had kept the lot under surveillance. After Carter parked his car, the detectives used their unmarked vehicles to cut off his escape and approached him with guns drawn.

In a panic, Carter threw his car into reverse, severely damaging the unmarked car behind him.

During his bench trial, Carter claimed that the arrival of two armed men – one of whom admitted in testimony that they didn’t clearly identify themselves as police – made him fear for his life. After being convicted of felony malicious property damage, Carter – a second offender – was sentenced to 20 years in prison. On appeal, Carter insisted that the arrest was unlawful.

In a remarkable achievement in judicial sophistry, the appeals court ruled that what it called an “investigative detention” is not an arrest – while insisting that Carter had no right to leave what the trial judge called “the arrested place [where] he’s supposed to remain.” In practical terms this means that cops are permitted to detain any citizen at gunpoint without such an action qualifying as an “arrest” – and therefore being subject to the restrictions supposedly guaranteed by the Fourth and Fifth amendments. Once the individual is detained, he can be shackled at the discretion of the officer – and then beaten, jailed, and prosecuted if he objects.

The act of handcuffing another human being is a serious injury. When not done to restrain someone who has actually harmed another human being, handcuffing is a morally impermissible form of aggressive violence. It is meant to be a tangible demonstration of superiority that requires the victim to submit to the supposed authority of the aggressor. It is designed and intended to humiliate the victim. This is why it is done even to six-year-old inmates of government schools who are dragged away by police officersnonagenarians who are abducted at gunpoint for neglecting to pay traffic tickets, or pregnant female inmates who are chained while giving birth.

This is also why police who are charged with crimes are often spared being handcuffed out of “professional courtesy” – which in some cases has actually imperiled the arresting officer.

In the American Soyuz, any of us, at the whim of an armed stranger in a government-issued costume, can find himself being treated in the same way that the Carthaginians treated captured prisoners of war. At least Carthaginian soldiers didn’t insult the intelligence of their victims by insisting that they were being shackled for their own “protection.”


7 thoughts on ““For Your Own Protection”

  1. The law is not what is, but what the one with the gun want it to be…….. loose your gun and you will loose all freedom.


  2. These problems of “police brutality” and other unconstitutional and unconscionable behavior would be largely eliminated if “the Militia of the several States” were properly revitalized according to constitutional principles, and the police and other law-enforcement and emergency-response agencies were then incorporated as sub-units (analogous to the Rangers or the Minutemen in the pre-constitutional Militia). At that point, the sort of abuses so well described described in this article (for which one must compliment Mr. Grigg) would be immediately subject to exposure, prosecution, and discipline by the Militia themselves–that is, the police and like agencies would be controlled directly by the people, not allowed to act as if they were independent of and superior, if not antagonistic, to the people, with prosecutors and judges covering up or apologizing for their criminal behavior. If the States are rapidly becoming–or perhaps have already degenerated into–“police states” (in which the police do essentially whatever they want, with no adverse consequences), it is because the States are no longer “free State[s]”, and that is because they no longer have at hand the institutions which the Constitution describes as “necessary to the security of a free State”, that is, “well regulated Militia”.

  3. The cops behave no differently than any other street gang, attacking everyone else and protecting their own.

    They’re an occupying army that doesn’t “protect and serve” anyone but themselves, politicians, and rich people.

    The cops that aren’t abusing the citizenry directly, are covering up the crimes of the cops that do, and that’s a crime in every corner of this country.

    Ergo: They’re a gang of crooks that are killing, robbing, and terrorizing decent people all across the nation, and they have to be stopped. It’s that simple.

  4. By rights, his mother had EVERY right to SHOOT THOSE COPS DEAD, DEAD, DEAD!!!!

    “Citizens may resist unlawful arrest to the point of taking an arresting officer’s life if necessary.” Plummer v. State, 136 Ind. 306. This premise was upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States in the case: John Bad Elk v. U.S., 177 U.S. 529.

    The Court stated: “Where the officer is killed in the course of the disorder which naturally accompanies an attempted arrest that is resisted, the law looks with very different eyes upon the transaction, when the officer had the right to make the arrest, from what it does if the officer had no right. What may be murder in the first case might be nothing more than manslaughter in the other, or the facts might show that no offense had been committed.”

    “Story affirmed the right of self-defense by persons held illegally. In his own writings, he had admitted that ‘a situation could arise in which the checks-and-balances principle ceased to work and the various branches of government concurred in a gross usurpation.’ There would be no usual remedy by changing the law or passing an amendment to the
    Constitution, should the oppressed party be a minority. Story concluded, ‘If there be any remedy at all … it is a remedy never provided for by human institutions.’ That was the ‘ultimate right of all human beings in extreme cases to resist oppression, and to apply force against ruinous injustice.’” (From Mutiny on the Amistad by Howard Jones, Oxford
    University Press, 1987, an account of the reading of the decision in the case by Justice Joseph Story of the Supreme Court.

    “When a person, being without fault, is in a place where he has a right to be, is violently assaulted, he may, without retreating, repel by force, and if, in the reasonable exercise of his right of self defense, his assailant is killed, he is justified.”
    Runyan v. State, 57 Ind. 80; Miller v. State, 74 Ind. 1.

    “These principles apply as well to an officer attempting to make an arrest, who abuses his authority and transcends the bounds thereof by the use of unnecessary force and violence, as they do to a private individual who unlawfully uses such force and violence.”
    Jones v. State, 26 Tex. App. I; Beaverts v. State, 4 Tex. App. 1 75; Skidmore v. State, 43 Tex. 93, 903.

    “An arrest made with a defective warrant, or one issued without affidavit, or one that fails to allege a crime is within jurisdiction, and one who is being arrested, may resist arrest and break away. lf the arresting officer is killed by one who is so resisting, the killing will be no more than an involuntary manslaughter.”
    Housh v. People, 75 111. 491; reaffirmed and quoted in State v. Leach, 7 Conn. 452; State v. Gleason, 32 Kan. 245; Ballard v. State, 43 Ohio 349; State v Rousseau, 241 P. 2d 447; State v. Spaulding, 34 Minn. 3621.

    “An illegal arrest is an assault and battery. The person so attempted to be restrained of his liberty has the same right to use force in defending himself as he would in repelling any other assault and battery.”
    (State v. Robinson, 145 ME. 77, 72 ATL. 260).

    “Each person has the right to resist an unlawful arrest. In such a case, the person attempting the arrest stands in the position of a wrongdoer and may be resisted by the use of force, as in self- defense.”
    (State v. Mobley, 240 N.C. 476, 83 S.E. 2d 100).

    “One may come to the aid of another being unlawfully arrested, just as he may where one is being assaulted, molested, raped or kidnapped. Thus it is not an offense to liberate one from the unlawful custody of an officer, even though he may have submitted to such custody, without resistance.”
    (Adams v. State, 121 Ga. 16, 48 S.E. 910).

    As for grounds for arrest: “The carrying of arms in a quiet, peaceable, and orderly manner, concealed on or about the person, is not a breach of the peace. Nor does such an act of itself, lead to a breach of the peace.” (Wharton’s Criminal and Civil Procedure, 12th Ed., Vol.2: Judy
    v. Lashley, 5 W. Va. 628, 41 S.E. 197)

    1. Yea, I’ll be sure to document this, although when the police are intent on tasering the shit out of you, and refuse to listen to reason, I don’t think they will even care to listen to you reciting court cases at that point in time. But that’s just me.

      And as far as the courts go, WE HAVE NO COURTS!

  5. Hey Diogenes, I’ll rest alittle easier tonight knowing that your with us. I just wish I could get my attorney son fully onboard.

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