The First and Second Amendments protect and reinforce each other. In a free society, there is always pressure to expand the power of the government to suppress freedom of speech. Those in power, for the last 100 years, have been infringing on our right to bear arms, and claiming that those who support the Second Amendment are kooks, in an attempt to suppress our First Amendment rights. With the voice provided by the First Amendment and the Internet, brave activists have been rolling back those attacks on the First and Second Amendments, and have been winning important victories.
Michael Picard is one such activist in Connecticut. It takes a brave man to stand up to several Connecticut State Troopers, and calmly and rationally demand his rights. It takes more guts to decide to continue the fight in court, when an easy out is offered. Here are the words of Michael Picard:
Back on Friday, September 11th, 2015, in West Hartford, CT, I was illegally detained, frisked and searched, and my gun, permit and camera were seized, I was threatened with arrest for interfering (apparently, freedom of speech passes for interfering), and the Connecticut State Police fabricated a story, on camera, to trump up the charges because they needed to charge me with something ("Let's give him something.") to cover their ass ("Gotta cover our ass."), charging me with "creating a public disturbance" for legally open carrying my firearm and "negligent pedestrian" for legally holding up a sign on public property, as well as being threatened with arrest (again) if I did not pay the fine. I was detained for 40 minutes and charged for nothing more than legally open carrying and holding up a sign on public property. I never touched my gun once and I am a legal gun owner. My lawyer and I went to the first court appearance back on Thursday, January 14th, 2016, where the prosecutor offered a $25 fine, in lieu of the original $300 fine, to make the case go away. I rejected the deal because I did nothing wrong. As of now, the prosecutor has not dropped the case despite having video evidence of police misconduct. The trial date has been set for Monday, April 25th, 2016, at 9:30am, at the New Britain courthouse (20 Franklin Sq., New Britain, CT).The video speaks for itself. I found particularly chilling the words of an Unidentifed Trooper:
"And then claim that, um, in backup, we had multiple people,um, they didn't want to stay and give us a statement, so we took our own course of action."There are several felonies in that statement. It shows how far down the path to a police state we have gone. There is obstruction of justice. There is conspiracy. There is denial of rights under color of law. And, I am not a lawyer.
See the video, decide for yourself.
Sure, the police have a tough job. But it is not too much to ask that they follow the rules. If the rules are too complex for them, they are far too complex for those who are not lawyers, and need to be rolled back. It appears to me that Michael did not break any laws. He is an activist. In our litigious society, he has to be very careful that he does not break the rules. He knows he has a target on his back. The police did not like what he was doing, but even they admitted that what he was doing was legal, on the video.
If the prosecution is smart, they will cut a deal now, including a cash settlement and retraining for the police department. It is likely to be the cheapest that they will get out of the situation.
Think of yourself on a jury, in Connecticut, not that far from where the Freddie Grey incident occurred. Consider listening to the police discussing how they will concoct charges against you. It might not happen. In Detroit, a judge ruled that such video, from a dash cam, could not be seen by jurors. In that case, the jury found the open carrier not guilty, very quickly, without the dash cam video. But Connecticut is not Detroit.
We need activists to keep the police honest. Digital recorders and the Internet are helping make that happen. The police could simply have ignored Michael and done nothing, as it appears they should have done. Or, they could have calmly approached him and asked what he was doing. Instead, the video shows that they concocted a scheme to harass Michael with false charges to "Cover their Ass". It is a grave miscarriage of justice, and it should not be tolerated.
The police work for us. We are not their servants or their serfs.
Even in Connecticut.
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
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