Thursday, September 17, 2015

Illegal Search or Unreasonable Citizen: California Family

Below the break you will see a video of a family declining a vehicle search by some sort of California Agriculture inspector. They are later pulled over by California State Police and arrested. The proximate cause of the arrest was the driver's (Brad Feinman) refusal to accept a ticket or provide identification. Of course once the police broke the vehicle window and hauled the family out, they searched the vehicle anyway. This video was hard to believe. Not because of the escalation of force by police officers. That part was easy to believe, especially the part where the Caucasian-American police officers did not immediately shoot or beat or tase the Caucasian-American citizens. No what I didn't know is that apparently the State of California has taken the power upon itself to search, excuse me, inspect vehicles entering the state. This appears to me to be an end run around the Fourth Amendment. It's being done under the bailiwick of the Agricultural Inspection station but to me it doesn't really matter why it's being done or under what supposed authority it's being done. I think it's wrong and should not be tolerated. What sort of country are we living in if government authorities can just search your vehicle without warrant or probable cause anytime they want to do so. Now there are smarter people than I and people who know the law much better than I who read this blog. I would be interested in knowing what they thought of this. But ultimately it doesn't matter does it. If someone is asserting authority to search your vehicle merely because you're entering the state and/or look suspicious it seems to me that California is giving a huge middle finger to the Fourth Amendment and associated civil liberties. This, among other reasons, is why I think the security apparatus that has grown up around airline travel post 9-11 is so pernicious. There really is no reason why such (VIPER) procedures can't be put into place for travel by train, bus or as we saw here, automobile. 

The idea that the search is "voluntary" because you don't have to enter into California seems to me nonsensical. Why not just get rid of the Fourth Amendment entirely? After all, imagine how much crime the state could deter or prosecute if police officers could enter your house any time they wanted to search it. Would I have done what this man did?  Would you have? I don't like needless confrontation, but I hope that I would have the stones to stand up. But is it my right to endanger a wife and child? I'm positive that a higher level of state violence would have been used against me and mine MUCH earlier in the process. I'm as sure of that as I am that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. So who can say what I would have done. As the song says you have to know when to hold them AND know when to fold them. I think that the citizen decided not to comply with any of the requests because consent at any point would seem to reduce his chances of fighting it later in court. But again I am not a lawyer. Maybe my fears and irritation are unwarranted and these "inspections" are just fine legally and constitutionally. If so then we need to change the laws and the constitution. Anyway, check out the long video below and share your thoughts. You may think that the man is a jerk or a zealot. You may think that he's playing with fire. I don't say no to that. But something is wrong if any state or federal agent is asserting a right to search your car without some sort of probable cause. And it seems to me that's what's happening. The video starts in real time roughly at 1:32.

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