Tuesday, November 25, 2008

An Everyday Violation of Constitutional Rights

My name is Lawrence Fine, and fifteen minutes ago my government violated my fourth amendment constitutional rights. This is what happened.

As I was driving home from work, I exited Interstate 75 Southbound at exit 228, into Stockbridge, Georgia, at 23:20 on Tuesday, November 25, 2008.  As I approached the light at the end of the exit at the intersection with state route 138, I noticed many police cruisers with lights flashing on both sides of the exit ramp. As the handful of cars in front of me slowly crept forward, it became clear that police had blockaded the road and were stopping every vehicle that passed through.

Within a minute, there was a tall, white, clean shaven, leather jacketed Stockbridge police officer at my window, shining a bright Mag light at my face. I lowered the window to speak with him. He asked for my drivers' license. I, politely and calmly asked him why he needed to see it. He replied it was a checkpoint at they were just checking everyone for identitfication. I informed him that I was confused about the reason for the checkpoint, and I asked if I had done anything wrong, or if the police present were in search of someone who had. The officer replied that I had done nothing, but that he needed to see my identification anyway. I replied "I feel that this is an unreasonable search and violated my fourth amendment rights." The officer responded "You can show me your license, or spend the night in jail for obstruction." I showed him my license and again told him directly, "You are violating my constitutional right as stated in the fourth amendment." He replied that he thought I should go to law school. I asked him for his name and badge number. He refused my request for identification (which was presumably covered by his leather jacket), stating only that if I wanted to speak with someone, I had to speak with his sergeant, who was located on the opposite side of the road, and appeared to be searching peoples' cars, shining a flashlight in all the windows and looking inside, as well as speaking with the drivers.

I made my way to the female sergeant in charge, and she waved me over to park and wait for her to finish dealing with the vehicle by which she was standing. I did so, and while I waited I captured this photo and video of the scene.

Once she walked over, I immediately greeted her, still seated in the drivers' seat, and identified myself as a "citizen journalist" (which is what I recommend to all bloggers). I asked her what the reason for the roadblock was, and she replied that they were "Checking people for 'Click it or ticket'" (the state's program to ensure compliance with compulsory seat belt legislation). I asked her if they were also there to check for valid drivers' licenses, motor vehicle tags or other illegal activity and she replied in the affirmative. I asked her why the police chose this intersection on this evening, and she replied that it was because they get a lot of cars through there. I asked her to confirm that the police chose the intersection based upon the plentiful flow of traffic at the time, and she replied in the affirmative. I asked her who had the
 idea to setup the roadblock at an intersection for this purpose, and she replied that it had been herself. She informed me that she was not permitted to talk to journalists, and that I should instead contact the station's head of public relations, Captain Bolton at 770-288-8200. I asked her for her name and she told me that it was Sgt. Savage. I asked her if I could get a photograph, and she replied "No."

The entire experience was calm and cordial, even when the words were tense. The only threat of me being arrested was when I resisted showing ID. I would like to report to you that I spent the night in jail to protect my rights, but I did not. I would also like to imagine that this is the worst thing my government has done to me today, but I am frankly not sure that it was (they took almost $6000 from you too, dear middle-class taxpayer and dollar-owner). I am going to contact Captain Bolton and also register a formal complaint against the police, and if I have a friend who will represent me pro bono then I will consider filing a claim against the city, but the chances of that are slim. This is my primary chorus of outrage. Maybe next time I'll suck it up and do the right thing, behind bars. Until then, this is but a more local atrocity from our ever-more-powerful government, that will weigh on me until all of the injustices are addressed - or the utterly overt police state reigns.

9 comments:

jls said...

you think you've got problems? a couple of weeks ago they violated my right to equal protection.

DV said...

@jls: I think we've all got problems with this government. Plenty of them.

jon said...

Unfortunately, post-Hiibel v Nevada, the 4th amendment has essentially been gutted, especially in cases related to ID.

If you don't follow papersplease.org, check it out...interesting reading on the state of identification cases.

The sad thing is that most people don't even seem to understand why they wouldn't want to produce ID on demand.

JUSTICE said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ARod said...

That's just the beginning. I got a ticket for having an expired tag while I was in the mist of having repairs made. Cobb County had not reported it in the system and the Fulton County officer said, "just go to court with your paperwork and they will drop it." I get there and there's this offer 'if you've done nothing wrong and have your paperwork you can take part in our 'special program' ... The special program is you pay $150 and they don't put it on your record. I felt like I'd been hood-winked. They are fleecing people left and right!

MiMi said...

Constitutional Rights? DO WE HAVE ANY OF THESE NOW?

A friend of mine was at the wrong place at the wrong time....got stopped by city cops....and shot at numerous times....(they tried their best to kill him)...hit him several times...and then railroaded him with trumped up charges....this person was NOT DRIVING OR DOING DRUGS and was clean....had no weapon except the truck he was driving...

He had a trial and served time for something made up....he does have mental issues....but that does not give anyone who has a badge and a gun the right to shoot at someone and try to kill them....does it?

There was a court appointed attorney who did not properly, legally and lawfully represent him.....the courts are a circus...and you get stuck in them...you are doomed....innocent or guilty....

SO VERY SAD....AMERICA IS IN DEEP TROUBLE.....

ellie said...

This sounds like Gwinnett County Police, they never readanyone thier rights before arresting them

ellie said...

I have actually been trying to file lawsuit for a loooog time now, but appreantly EVERY lawyer in GA thinks this is ok.

jawj4291 said...

you think the violation of your 4th amendment is bad? The violation of the 1st, 9th and 14 amendments are worse as they are violated in several states. Any state that has a ban on same sex marriage in in violation of these. The first as the ban is baced on religion, the 9th as states do not have the right to pick and chose what people get what rights, and the 14th as there is no just cause for the ban.