USA: Arrested for feeding the homeless, over-criminalized and hyper-policed

Published on Axis of Logic, by Les Blough, June 5, 2011.

We recently published two reports of U.S. police arresting people for dancing at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington DC. Our purpose for publishing those reports was to help expose the growth of the U.S. Police State and the degree to which the state inserts itself into the personal affairs of its citizens. If you find arrests for dancing in public hard to believe, how about being arrested for feeding the homeless! Most Axis readers were appalled at the dancing arrests but the opinion of a few was, “Well, they broke the rules so they deserved it.” The questions we have for the latter group is, “Do you think it possible that we have too many rules, who makes them and why?” The 3 people arrested for feeding the homeless in a public park in Florida also broke a rule so perhaps some people think they too deserve to be arrested, humiliated, fined and jailed. In the news article below this commentary, the Orlando Sentinel reports details of these arrests.

A larger story:  

  • There is a larger story behind the arrests for dancing and feeding the homeless. It’s about overcriminalization, police enforcement and belligerance and a corrupt and arbitrary criminal justice system. When I worked for 8 years in “law enforcement and corrections” a trainer once pointed out that there are enough laws on the books to enable a police or corrections officer to stand on a corner and make arrests all day long. “Everybody’s dirty” was one of his favorite lines. So we were told that we had to use judgement about if and when to make an arrest. The guidelines for making those judgements were sufficiently vague to give a cop liberty to be very selective in many cases. There are many examples but among the most obvious is the traffic cop who decides which speeders to ignore and which to arrest. On one occasion, while waiting our turn before the judge in night court in Nashville, Tennessee, for the arraignment of a prisoner who had murdered someone hours earlier, I watched a Metropolitan police officer testify against a prostitute he arrested and brought into court in handcuffs, letting it slip in his testimony before the judge that he had sex with the woman before arresting her. The judge fined her and put her in jail.
  • It’s well known that the United States has the highest criminal population and more laws than any other country. A little Axis of Logic fact-checking on the arrests for feeding the homeless in Florida revealed a list of individuals who have been arrested in Orange County Florida during the last 30 days. Their names, photos and alleged crimes are posted in the Orlando Sentinel even though they have not been tried and have not been convicted of anything.

Guilty until proven innocent:

  • People arrested for not having a valid drivers license (e.g. expired license) were among those arrested, handcuffed and photographed and booked by the police. The U.S. government has always claimed that individuals are “innocent until proven guilty” but the claim is vacuous when the media can make public the name, photo and crime for which a person is arrested, thus destroying a person publically and influencing the outcome of the few who make it to a jury trial. Most do not because they are forced by prosecutors to admit guilt in plea bargains whether they are guilty or not. The state doesn’t like paying the expense of jury trials and further loading clogged court dockets.

2,556 people arrested in Orange County, Florida in 30 days: … //

… The U.S. News and Entertainment industry has always created and maintained the myth of America as “the land of the free.” But today the collapsing system debunks the myth, revealing the underbelly of a land of the molested, the restricted, controlled, subdued, humiliated and imprisoned. Those who would argue otherwise simply haven’t been victimized by the system yet or haven’t had a loved one put through the meatgrinder of U.S. justice.

Now another crime has been created for police and court action: Feeding the Homeless. (full text).

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