Saturday, May 19, 2012

Chicago PD Raids Of NATO Protesters: Real Evidence Of Bomb-Making, Or Warrantless Searches Finding Common Household Items?

Avedon Carol tells the story well, so I will simply leave it to her:

Chicago police raided an apartment housing anti-NATO protesters late on May 16. Interestingly, The Chicago Tribune didn't try to soft-soap the story, making it clear that the police ran around breaking into people's homes in the early morning hours without even offering a pretext. "According to law enforcement sources and police reports obtained by the Tribune, the arrests were the result of a monthlong investigation into a group suspected of making Molotov cocktails - crude bombs usually created by filling glass bottles with gasoline. But the National Lawyers Guild criticized the police raid, saying the nine NATO protesters only had beer-making equipment in their possession." Most people have the ingredients in their homes for making various sorts of bombs, so it's a claim that can be made about almost anyone. A bag of flour is also useful for making a bomb. Every kitchen is a potential arms manufacturing plant. You don't need "equipment" to make a Molotov cocktail - presumably you already have a bottle and a rag, and you can siphon some gasoline out of a car. A bit of motor oil, a dash of kerosene - you can see that pretty much every suburban home is terrorist bomb factory. This is what "probable cause" is all about - if the cops don't have to show a specific reason for coming after you, they can break down any door in the middle of the night on the grounds that you had "the equipment" for making a bomb. And that's just what they're doing now, and they're not doing it to anyone who is genuinely suspected of terrorism, but to people who are known not to be terrorists of any kind. I'm sure these cops didn't all just decide after a few drinks to go out and terrorize some protesters, and I'm just as sure there will be no consequences to the people who decided to use the cops as a weapon to terrorize some protesters. But the law is meaningless without consequences to violators, so it's pretty clear we are on notice that our 1st and 4th Amendment rights are gone. "Witnesses described police officers dressed all in black armed with battering rams and guns drawn swarming into the building, conducting warrantless searches and refusing to tell them what was going on."

That is, indeed, what "probable cause" is all about. All of us, inevitably as a result of having homes to run and gasoline-powered vehicles to maintain, have "bomb-making equipment" around home. If police can break down doors with no demonstrable probable cause to believe a crime is intended, they can always find "bomb-making equipment" in the home of any person, including people whose most nefarious actual intention is nonviolent protest. This is the soul and substance of the Fourth Amendment. Without it, as Avedon says, our rights of protest and our protections against unreasonable searches are gone.

Clearly Obama's buddies (read: Rahm Emanuel) and their private police forces (Chicago PD) are down with this approach to squelching protest. My question is to what degree Obama himself supports Chicago PD in this matter. You know, that Obama-Biden graphic in my sidebar is not glued down...


  1. What Obama-Biden graphic? You'll note that I don't have one on my blog... I'll vote for the man, but more with a sigh of exasperation than enthusiasm.

    Regarding the whole notion of accountability, yah, it'd be a good idea. But accountability is for the little people, not for our lords and masters. Alrighty, then!

    - Badtux the Exasperated Penguin

  2. It's a good thing much of my yard equipment has died so I'm doing more and more manual, gas-less work. Unless elbow grease can be used in bomb making...

  3. BadTux, I used to be, as my punning blog URL indicates, pretty much a yellow-dog Democrat, and the notion that I might NOT vote for the Democratic presidential candidate is still an alien idea to me. But as you say, how much I give... vote, endorsement, money... is truly all up to me, and those three things are separable.

  4. ntodd, I wouldn't know; I've never even set off a firecracker, let alone made something intended to cause harm! You are generally more publicly activist than most of us, which may make you more readily a target of people who want to use The Law (as opposed to the law) against you. Parenthood may change what you are willing to do in pursuit of civil disobedience. But I hope the good sense of your fellow state residents will allow you some latitude... Fletcher is not Chicago, thank the good Dog!

  5. karmanot, as far as I can see, the fascists never stop practicing. Ever.

  6. Parenthood may change what you are willing to do in pursuit of civil disobedience.

    Oh yes, dating back to my "last hurrah" in Palestine a few months before Sam was born, I've ramped back on the CD quite a bit. My WTR has evolved into deliberate poverty (the only legal tax avoidance), for example, and have limited myself to protests that are safe for the entire family. RIght now I'm sticking to local governance and volunteering to create safer communities though restorative justice programs. When the kids are old enough to bail me out, I'll get back to getting in more trouble.

    I still have guilt dreams that involve my friends in Code Pink et al, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do. That's why I've never been one to judge people who don't do the kind of activism I prefer, at least so long as they don't dismiss it through ignorance or arrogance.

  7. At NATO Summit in Chicago, Police Clash with Protesters (14 photos):

  8. "Right now I'm sticking to local governance and volunteering to create safer communities though restorative justice programs." Same here. This is extremely important, because the State's Rights meme is taking a fascist route in Michigan and Arizona. Local community resistance is a basic element in preserving as much democracy as possible.

  9. ntodd, for you of all people... guilt dreams are unwarranted. I know of no living soul who meets his human and community responsibilities better than you do. No guilt necessary, please believe me.

  10. Enfant, thanks; it's late at night, so I'll look at the pics tomorrow. Regrettably, this clash was entirely predictable, and is in its nature akin to the conflicts between police departments and Occupy encampments. I am pretty sure there is no actual terrorism going on, no matter what the news media are reporting.

  11. karmanot, thanks for reinforcing the true nature of the conflicts. Perhaps our rights and liberties are under some sort of grand, overall assault, but the only basis on which we can push back is a local basis.

    The worst thing about being a cripple is not being a cripple, but feeling powerless to push back against anything. Perhaps tomorrow I'll have a better attitude.



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