Hello Freedomphiles! If you’ve been following this blog for very long, you know that I am on a crusade to stop the use of paramilitary SWAT teams to serve simple warrants. These no-knock raids use surprise and fear to shock and awe the suspect into total compliance, but the tactics often do just the opposite.
Imagine you are lying in bed, and suddenly a flash-bang grenade explodes in your room, the flash of light and 136 decibel shockwave blinding and deafening you as a group of urban soldiers swarm you with automatic weapons, screaming instructions into your useless ears. You have a split-second to assess the situation and respond, all while the invaders have done everything possible to ensure you are not thinking clearly. Is this a home invasion or is it a police action? Hope you choose the right one.
In these situations, if the police make a mistake, you could end up dead, like 92 year-old Kathryn Johnston, 17 year-old Daniel Castillo, who was shot in the face while sitting up, unarmed in his bed, or Tarika Wilson, the mother of six who was shot dead by police while holding her baby. But don’t worry, the baby only lost a finger.
In most of these cases, police are given the benefit of the doubt because it was a charged situation where split-second decisions had to be made. But the police know what is happening when they kick in the door and shoot the family pets, shoving guns in peoples faces and screaming at them. The people inside the home don’t have the benefit of foresight and must make these decisions with little to no information. But when they mistakenly kill a police officer in self-defense, like Cory Maye and Ryan Frederick, rarely arethey given the benefit of the doubt.
Radley Balko, author of Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America and the real leader of this charge against these no-knock SWAT raids, has seen it all: “There was a case where a SWAT officer stepped on a baby’s head while looking for drugs in a drop ceiling. There was one where an 11-year-old boy was shot at point-blank range. Police have broken down doors, screamed obscenities, and held innocent people at gunpoint only to discover that what they thought were marijuana plants were really sunflowers, hibiscus, ragweed, tomatoes, or elderberry bushes.”
Well, today, on his Facebook page, Radley shared a video of one of these raids just down Highway 70 from me in the college town of Columbia, MO, where both the family pets were shot in front of the children, and then the father, Jonathan Whitworth, was arrested for having a pipe, a grinder, and misdemeanor amount of marijuana, as well as for child endangerment. But who was endangering the kid more – the guy who liked to smoke a bowl after work, or the government goons that kicked in his door and pointed automatic weapons at his family?
So, I clicked on the play button, and as I watched the video, my heart started racing, my hands started sweating, and I was grinding my teeth. Before, this had all been academic, confined to the idea of what was wrong with all this. But when I actually saw it going down, it became all too real. Everyone needs to watch this, whether you agree with me or not, to see what is becoming of law enforcement in America:
I think Radley put it best, so I’ll finish with his Facebook closer: “So, this is your goddamned drug war, America.”