Livingston County Michigan Libertarians

A Party of Principle

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  • 2014: The year police abuse went mainstream

    Police Abuse of Eric Garner

    by Darryl W. Perry

    It’s time again to look at a year gone by, though unlike years past where I attempt to summarize the year, I will instead look at what I consider to be the story of the year. It’s not easy picking a top story for the entire year, in fact the top story of 2014 isn’t just 1 story, it’s an entire genre of news stories: Police Abuse.

    For fans of Cop Block or The Free Thought Project, this is nothing new; however for tens of millions of Americans the growing number of stories about abusive police is alarming. What is more shocking, to many, is the lack of justice for those who have been harmed or even killed by police.

    I could attempt to list off the countless stories of SWAT raiding the wrong house, killing dogs and people in the process. I could even cite stories of police using their supposed authority to force women into performing sexual favors. I could even list hundreds of stories about people being killed by police. Instead, I will tell you about two men who were killed by police, both of whom were begging for their life as they died: Kelly Thomas and Eric Garner.

    Though Kelly Thomas was killed in 2011, his case is very relevant to 2014. It was in January of this year that his killers stood trial. Kelly Thomas was a mentally ill homeless man who lived in Fullerton, California. On the night of July 5, 2011 he was approached by Police who were responding to a report of someone vandalizing cars. Reason reports, Manuel Ramos and another officer arrived on the scene and encountered Thomas, someone whom Ramos had encountered previously. “(Thomas wasn’t breaking into any vehicles.) When he didn’t obey Ramos’ commands to put his hands on his knees, Ramos started swinging his baton at Thomas’ legs. Soon six officers, including [Jay] Cicinelli, were on the scene, crushing and pounding the unarmed man. Cicinelli later recounted that he hit Thomas’ face 20 times with a Taser.”

    The LA Times reports, “When a paramedic arrived at the scene… he was told by an officer that a colleague had scratches on his arm.
    After treating the officer, Fullerton Fire Department Capt. Ron Stancyk looked to his right and saw a man on the ground who was bloody, unconscious, barely breathing and handcuffed.” The bloody, unconscious, barely breathing, handcuffed man was Kelly Thomas who died 5 days later after being removed from life support.

    If those details aren’t bad enough, before being beaten to the point of becoming unconscious, Thomas was asked by Ramos, “Now you see my fists?”
    Thomas responded, “Yeah, what about them?”
    “They are getting ready to f**k you up.”

    Ramos, Cicinelli and other officers then beat Thomas for nearly 10 straight minutes. Kelly Thomas plead “I’m sorry,” in response to their calls for him to “relax,” and “stop resisting,” he responded, “I’m trying,” and in what would become his final words, he cried out for his father and begged, “Help me.”

    In January of this year, a jury acquitted Ramos and Cicinelli of second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter; and involuntary manslaughter and excessive use of force, respectively. The Orange County DA dropped the charges against Joseph Wolfe. Kelly Thomas’ father Ron told reporters after the acquittal of his sons killers, “This is carte blanche to police officers to do whatever they want.”

    Just over 3 years after Kelly Thomas was beaten to death, Eric Garner was choked to death by New York Police Officer, Daniel Pantaleo. Time reports, “On Aug. 1, a New York City medical examiner determined that the cause of death in the Garner case was ‘homicide,’ specifically the neck compressions from the chokehold and ‘the compression of [Garner’s] chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police.’”

    In December, a Grand Jury refused to indict Daniel Pantaleo.

    While being choked, Eric Garner kept telling Pantaleo and the other officers involved, “I can’t breathe!” That phrase has now become synonymous with protests against police abuse, and in favor of police accountability.

    Of course not everyone is supportive of holding the police accountable for their actions, claiming that only criminals need to be concerned about being victims of police abuse. To them I say, with the myriad of poorly written (and randomly enforced) laws, it’s nearly impossible to be in compliance with all of them. Even if you miraculously do so, you’re still not safe from a police officer who raids the wrong house, or simply thinks you’re doing something wrong. To quote Tom Knapp, “the only real way to guarantee an end to police violence is to bring an end to state ‘law enforcement’ — in fact, to the state itself.” Hopefully that happens sooner rather than later, because I can’t breathe!

    Libertarian Party statement on Boston Marathon bombing, Syria, foreign intervention

    The following statement came from the United States Libertarian Party:

    The Libertarian Party extends heartfelt sympathies to the surviving families of the victims and all who were harmed by the senseless and violent bombing in Boston on April 15 and its aftermath. We applaud the efforts of Boston-area residents and law enforcement officials who helped to remove the immediate threat of additional harm from the alleged perpetrators.  lib party

    While we are relieved that the Justice Department has assured that the surviving bombing suspect will receive a civilian trial, we are troubled that, according to news reports, he was not read his Miranda rights prior to questioning.

    Regardless of the severity of the crime, upholding individual rights is paramount. We call for ensuring that all criminal suspects, including alleged terrorists, are Mirandized and offered the right to an attorney before questioning. We also call for ensuring that all such interrogations be, without exception, properly monitored and videotaped.

    We are further troubled by reports of martial law tactics, including the alleged orders issued by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick for residents to stay inside their homes and for stores to stay closed. Visiting homes to inquire of suspect sightings or politely requesting that residents stay off the streets — without any threat of force — is a reasonable measure for authorities to take during an emergency. However, threatening force in any way is a breach of our constitutional rights and is unacceptable. Going forward, we call for laws that impose criminal penalties on any government official who oversteps his or her authority or who in any way diminishes our constitutional protections.

    While we strenuously condemn acts of violence against innocent men, women, and children as occurred on April 17, we also condemn the U.S. government’s routine perpetration of such injustice on others throughout the world. As one example, U.S. drone strikes kill many times more civilians than terrorists.

    Such disregard for human life is morally reprehensible. In addition, it unnecessarily engenders enemies of the United States.

    Spokespersons for the military claim that the federal government does whatever it can to minimize civilian casualties. Perhaps it does from their current perspective. But from an honest and realistic perspective, their perpetual calls for military action do not minimize civilian casualties, but instead increase them.

    To avoid harming innocent others, the Libertarian Party urges President Barack Obama and members of Congress to:

    1. Stay out of foreign conflicts, including Syria. The goal of our military should be defense only, not attempting to brutalize the world into acceptance of our cultural values, to impose “democracy” (its practice in U.S. elections leaves much to be desired), to control foreign resources, or to intervene for other purposes.
    2. Immediately end all trade sanctions, including sanctions against Iran and North Korea. Sanctions all too often end in war, as was the case in Iraq. They furthermore disrupt the peaceful influence of international businessmen and women who have every incentive to avoid war and violence.
    3. Begin to shut down the vast majority of our foreign military bases and bring our troops home. Our wealthy allies can pay for their own defense, and our military bases in less friendly areas serve to create more enemies.
    4. Immediately end all military alliances, including those associated with NATO. The Cold War is over. We have enough nuclear weapons to destroy every country on earth. No country can reasonably declare war on the United States. The kind of terrorism we deal with cannot be addressed by massive military alliances. If a threat were to arise large enough to require an allied force to fight it off, we can create a new alliance at that time.
    5. Immediately reduce military spending by 60 percent or more. When companies like Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and Northrup Grumman profit from war, they have a powerful incentive to use their influence to encourage military conflict. Canceling multi-billion-dollar contracts for unneeded fighter planes, ships, and other military equipment will reduce the incentive to lobby for military adventurism. Associated cuts in government spending will reduce the deficit, reduce inflation, and stimulate the private sector economy, creating job growth.

    “The United States’ vast military arsenal is much too big, wildly overpriced, and morally unjustifiable. In addition, high government spending to fund the military contributes significantly to inflation and the risk of an economic collapse,” said Geoffrey J. Neale, chair of the Libertarian National Committee. “By dramatically reducing military spending and adopting a noninterventionist foreign policy, we will foster peace throughout the world, preserve Americans’ wealth, and make America safe.”

    Was Jesus a Libertarian anarchist?

    Jesus, prince of peace

    Jesus, prince of peace

    Christian anarchism is the belief that the teachings of God and Jesus are the only sources of authority for Christians.

    Therefore, according to this belief, it is often necessary for Christians to defy government authority when it conflicts with the teachings of Jesus.

    For example, Jesus called his followers to turn the other cheek and resist evil, yet we have a government with a police and military monopoly over the legitimate use of force.

    Most Christian anarchists oppose this government force, which often results in war. Therefore, in the case of peace versus war, Christian anarchists believe that they must choose Jesus as an authority higher than the government.

    Author explains why Jesus was an anarchist
    Author James Redford definitely believes that Jesus is a free-market/libertarian anarchist, also called an anarcho-capitalist. In fact, Jesus’s very life began with an act of defiance against the government, and ended the same way, he explained.

    “Jesus was born into the world as a criminal and would later be killed as a criminal–a criminal as so regarded by the government, that is.

    “All one has to do is review the life story of Jesus to plainly see that government–far from being instituted by God–is and has been a demonic tool of Satan used to oppress the righteous,” he stated.

    The Golden Rule
    Jesus’ primary commandment is the “golden rule,” which is that we are to treat others as we would like to be treated.

    All governments by definition violate the Golden Rule, because they claim rights to “do to their subjects” what they would not allow their subjects to do to them.

    “The Golden Rule as a political ethic is completely congruent with the libertarian Non-Aggression Principle, i.e., that no person or group of people may initiate the use of force against another, or threaten to initiate force against another,” states Redford.

    Modern churches
    I have become acquainted with many anarchists within my own Catholic church. Over the years, I have met hundreds of nuns and priests who are willing to defy government to protest against wars and other injustices. In addition, the popes who I have listened to in my lifetime are some of the only leaders who will speak out against war.

    There is also a history of the Catholic church and other churches defying laws to help right government wrongs. For example, how many church leaders became part of the underground railroad? How many Catholic saints and martyrs over the years have given their time and their lives to stand up for what is right?

    For more about this fascinating topic, see:

    Jesus is an anarchist

    Wikipedia description and history of Christian anarchism

    Debate over Christian Anarchism

    Libertarian non-aggression principle

    The Libertarian non-aggression principle is explained in detail in the video called “The Declaration of Natural Rights.”

    As the video states, “any right that is a true human right is inherent.”

    “Such rights are not granted by government, they are not privileges bestowed by society, or created by documents, therefore such rights cannot be regulated, limited or revoked by any such power.

    “Any supposed authority which seeks to strip a Natural Right from the People is illegitimate, and should be dealt with accordingly.”

    The video also goes on to state that human societies are guided and held together by principles and ideals, and when a people loses sight of those principles, corruption and dictatorial power always takes root.

    The Natural Rights Foundation is focused on one central goal: to unify the left and the right under a common sense philosophy based on the non-aggression principle.

    Natural Rights are the logical expression of the non-aggression principle, and when properly communicated they are self evident.

    We are not liberal, we are not conservative, we are human.

    It’s time to stop fighting among ourselves over petty wedge issues and focus on our common goals and our common enemies.

    To get involved, please go to this link.