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Christa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-29-07 03:23 PM
Original message
American gestapo - Abuse of power by National Park Service
The last place you expect to run into a federal government goon squad is the Blue Ridge Parkway, the scenic highway that runs through Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee.

But the abuse of power spawned by the Bush administration and the rights robbing USA Patriot Act runs rampant throughout the federal bureaucracy, as I learned this week while traveling the Parkway to get to an assignment photographing a summer music festival for my newspaper.

The festival, FloydFest, draws thousands of people each July to a picturesque patch of land just off the Parkway not far from the Blue Ridge hamlet of Floyd, VA. Now in its sixth year, the festival enjoys a national reputation. It also provides an opportunity for the National Park Service police to harass patrons of the festival.

For the last two years, the Park Service has brought in its "CIT" (Criminal Interdiction Team) from Asheville, North Carolina, to police crowds that use the Parkway to reach the festival. The team, composed of swaggering young officers with little regard for due process or civil rights, is the embodiment of federal excess.

As I drove towards the site Thursday, I passed two CIT Park Police officers that had pulled cars over and were forcing the occupants to pull everything out of the car so they could search coolers, back packs, luggage, glove boxes and consoles.

I pulled off the road ahead of the second NPS patrol car, grabbed my camera and headed back to take a photo of the police action. As I approached, the Park Service officer wheeled around and pointed at me.

"Sir, if you raise that camera to take a photograph I will place you under arrest," he barked.

I identified myself as a working journalist on assignment and said I was simply covering a news event.

"Sir," he retorted, "this is U.S. government property and under the provisions of the USA Patriot Act you cannot take photographs of official government activity without authorization. Put your camera down now!"

I could not believe what I was hearing. I grew up in this part of the country and have photographed on the Blue Ridge Parkway since my days as a high school student. I asked for his badge number. He refused to reveal it.

"Sir, you have 15 seconds to leave or you are under arrest." He had his hand on his gun so I left. Media General, our newspaper's owner, has strict rules about interaction with police. At the top of the hill, I stopped and shot some photos back towards the scene.

At the festival, patrons told numerous horror stories about encounters that day with the Park Service Police. One young woman was pulled over because she had beads hanging from her rear view mirror. They detained her for more than an hour while they searched her car and found nothing. Another young man was stopped because he had a bolt missing from his license plate frame. When the cops found no drugs or alcohol, they ticketed him for "improper equipment."

More:

http://www.capitolhillblue.com/cont/node/3020
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Captain Angry Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-29-07 03:29 PM
Response to Original message
1. This is the kind of stuff that really concerns me.

This highlights a situation where people will follow orders that are unreasonable and designed to intimidate.

I think they do it for fear of being out of a job, or worse, being one of the little people. (as they called the civilians in Blade Runner)

People always say that we could never have a police state here because the people in uniform would never stand for it. But situations like this always remind us how some in uniform will use their authority on the little things. If they're willing to scare people over a picture, or a license plate, what will they do if they're ordered to do worse?

Will they refuse? Will they risk being put on the other side of the fence?

I don't like it.
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NoPasaran Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-29-07 03:40 PM
Response to Original message
2. No one shot "while trying to escape"?
Some "Gestapo".

:sarcasm:
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Snarkoleptic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-29-07 04:07 PM
Response to Original message
3. Fear and Loathing in the National Parks?
"He'd report us at once to some kind of outback Nazi law enforcement agency and they'll run us down like dogs. Jesus, did I say that? Or just think it? Was I talking? Did they hear me?"
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The Backlash Cometh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-29-07 06:09 PM
Response to Original message
4. Christ. I see the process. They're cutting us off from public land. I knew that
eventually they would do it, but it just shocks me when I hear it.
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guruoo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-29-07 06:30 PM
Response to Original message
5. Can you post the photos?
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The Doctor. Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-29-07 06:35 PM
Response to Original message
6. It's simple; "When authority stops respecting the people,
the people stop respecting authority."

Those fucking idiots are lucky they didn't create a riot.

Mark my words; One day, stupid assholes like these are going to turn a peaceful gathering into their own demise.
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PinkyisBlue Donating Member (617 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-29-07 07:36 PM
Response to Original message
7. I have read that every area of the federal govt. has been politicized.
Even the National Park Service has weeded out the democratic, independent thinkers in favor of the "Bush goonies". From what I read in the past, the Park Service has veered so far away from its original goals of preserving the environment for the public good and educating the public about conservation that any federal employees who actually espoused these goals have left or been pushed out. So all we're left with are power-hungry robots who don't know a Hummer from a hummingbird.
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Mark_Pogue Donating Member (274 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-29-07 07:43 PM
Response to Original message
8. Written by an old acquaintance
of mine. :)
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LibertyorDeath Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-29-07 07:57 PM
Response to Original message
9. There's your problem

Asheville North Carolina

Is redneck Neanderthal retard central.

I know my brother in law lives there and he's one of them.

Complete knuckle dragging freaks.
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ms liberty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-29-07 09:17 PM
Response to Reply #9
11. You might want to rethink that...
Asheville is one of the more liberal areas of North Carolina. So your BIL lives there and he's a knuckle dragging freak. He's not the only person in NC, ya know.

Oh, by the way...I live less than 2 hours from Asheville. I was born in NC, and I will most likely die and be buried here - like my mother's family has been for more than 250 years, including my ancestors who have fought in every effin war this country has thrown, including the Revolution. So screw you if you don't like your BIL and you want to tar and feather every person in the state he lives in. And next time, think before you write - there are a lot of NC'ers on this board, and a lot of them live in the Asheville area.
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LibertyorDeath Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-29-07 10:27 PM
Response to Reply #11
13. Apologies ms liberty... My bad

He's from Asheboro,
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ms liberty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-30-07 06:44 AM
Response to Reply #13
15. Apology accepted...and thank you! n/t
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bvar22 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-30-07 02:28 PM
Response to Reply #9
19. Solution: Move to Asheville!
It is EASY to be blue in the Blue strongholds.

If you really want to change things, move to a Deep Red area and work to change things.
Your vote and activism will be worth so much more.

Besides, Asheville is one of the most beautiful areas in America. :)

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here_is_to_hope Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-29-07 09:12 PM
Response to Original message
10. Im a longtime member of the Rainbow Family...
Edited on Sun Jul-29-07 09:13 PM by here_is_to_hope
And I can tell ya about abuse by not only the Park Service but the beloved USFS too...
NEVER CONSENT TO A SEARCH!
Its the biggest rap we have when guiding young ones to festivals and especially, National Rainbow Gatherings.
This is Rap 420:

"When heading to a gathering, ALWAYS assume you will run into a roadblock on the way in. It is very important that you know your rights before reaching the roadblock because this is where most of the coercive tactics and encroachments of rights will take place.

Law enforcement officers are trained to intimidate people into consenting to searches. You may be asked SEVERAL times during the detention if they can search your car or person. ALWAYS refuse and you�ll be fine. The only legal reason they have to search you without your arrest is that they feel they are in danger of being attacked which should not be an issue with rainbows.

If you do find yourself under arrest for any reason, always exercise your right to silence. Continue to refuse to allow any searches and politely inform them that you will not say anything until your attorney is present.

1. Your driver's license, registration and proof of insurance should be legal and accessible. You will sometimes need all three as the requirement laws vary from state to state. Always assume that you need all three and you'll never have a problem.

2. Your car must be road-legal. No broken tail-lights, windshields,headlights, etc. You will be cited for these.

3. Never leave anything in "plain view." Anything inside the car that is visible to the officer is considered to be in "plain view." Although this does not give them the right to search your car, they can confiscate the item and place you under arrest. They will still need to obtain a warrant to search the rest of your car which will not be very hard if they found something in plain view.

4. Never consent to a search of your body or your vehicle. This is your fourth amendment. The only reason they would ask is that they do not have enough evidence to obtain a search warrant (or they may just be too lazy to get one). JUST SAY NO!!

At rainbow gatherings in the past, officers have been known to plant drugs in cars after consent to search is given. You can avoid this problem by refusing to consent.

5. If you are harassed or mistreated, write down all the information you can about the incident. The officer's county, name, rank, badge number, etc. Date, time of day, location, etc. Contact one of the organizations listed at the end of this document to pursue the matter or just file a complaint with that officer's superior."

Of course, its not going to help if you run into such as those the OP happened upon.

On the other hand, last year at the National held near Steamboat, we simply over ran them...guns, horses and all.
Its here... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hAx5G0I9mU


edited for bad spelling by an old hippie..
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AX10 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-29-07 09:28 PM
Response to Original message
12. Harassment by lowly bureaucrats.
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Alcibiades Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-29-07 10:34 PM
Response to Original message
14. Don't all cops act like this?
This is how they act towards anyone they consider a criminal suspect, which is pretty much everybody. Probably some moron got it in their head that everyone was going to have drugs on them, and so ordered this crackdown.

When I was young and had long hair, I was stopped at least four times a year, much of it for broken tail lights and stuff. What the cops were really after was to search my car. Now I'm 40is, have short hair, and no longer drive a beat-up VW. I'm still a terrible driver, but I can now drive with impunity--I have not been stopped in over ten years.
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NoSheep Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-30-07 08:08 AM
Response to Original message
16. Trickle-down fascism. I have had 2 incidents similar to this in the past 2 months.
It's horrifying.
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cleveramerican Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-30-07 08:18 AM
Response to Original message
17. The worst part is you
Their over the top tactics worked. You got back in the car and left.They will be back out there tomorrow. I know it sounds stupid, but you should have taken the picture and forced the issue. You are not powerless. You can stand up for your rights, but it requires grim determination.I'd bet your employers would have supported you, I know I would have.

Public scrutiny is the best cleanser for this sort of abuse of power.
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indepat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-30-07 09:16 AM
Response to Original message
18. Those who support this administration must support an American gestapo
ultimately being in every village and hamlet alongside the planted spies and ubiquitous eavesdropping on our calls.
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progressoid Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-30-07 05:29 PM
Response to Original message
20. UPDATES...
UPDATE -- 07/29/2007: The National Park Service recalled their CIT unit and ordered them back to Asheville after Congressman Rick Boucher, who represents the area, intervened on behalf of the festival. Boucher's office received numerous calls of complaints about the NPS police activity on Thursday and Friday and called the director of the National Park Service. Security for the remaining two days of the festival was turned over to the Virginia State Police who patrolled the Parkway but did not harass festival attendees.

UPDATE -- 07/30/2007: Talked with Congressman Boucher today. He is "very upset" over the actions of the Parkway Rangers and says he will meet personally with the director of the Parkway to "make sure nothing like this happens again." Boucher said he does not believe the Patriot Act gives a Park Ranger the authority to prohibit a person from taking pictures and he will insist of a "full and complete investigation" of the incidents of this past weekend.

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