I know I've been getting the news up rather late recently, and I apologize. It's Spring Break right now, and I am actually catching up on the sleep I've so desperately needed for the past few months.
Here's the news:
-- Most of you will remember the shocking images from the UC Davis protest, with a police officer pepper spraying students from short range, as they sat non-violently on the sidewalk. The inquest into the incident has been suppressed by the court system, leading to a lot of frustration for everyone involved. Now students and alumni have had enough waiting, and on February 22, filed a lawsuit against the police officers, the University, and the Chancellor, Linda Katehi. They are alleging that their rights to free speech were attacked. The next court hearing concerning the incident is March 16, when the judge will decide whether or not to release the findings of the investigation.
-- In other University of California news, the Chancellor of UC Berkeley is stepping down, returning to a faculty position after 8 years as Chancellor. Robert Birgeneau has waded through many protests and budget cuts, and commented that anyone who steps up to the plate needs to be ready to deal with these things.
-- Occupy students in Atlanta disrupted a Board of Regents meeting last night. They coughed loudly, and questioned some of the board's policies, which effectively ban illegal immigrants from public universities as well as making deep cuts to important scholarships for less fortunate students. They asked that the regents be the ones to take pay cuts. The Chairman gave students a few minutes to speak before asking them to leave. Protesters left without incident, but informed the regents that they would be attending future meetings.
-- Occupy Denver's encampment is being cleaned up by the city again, this time after a man involved in the encampment admitted to having an infectious parasitic disease. The man was treated for scabies, and his belongings were carefully contained and removed from the site. City officials in protective suits were called in on Monday to clean up. Some reports say it was never confirmed that the man actually had the disease, but the city says they would rather play it safe and sanitary than sorry.
-- Here's an interesting article concerning the livestreaming that goes on at large Occupy events. It discusses the challenges that these people face from both police and other Occupiers, and how some of them may even be targeted due to the footage they obtain.
This one really gets me...
-- An apartment building in Miami was effectively raided after police received a tip that the Occupiers staying there had "long guns" that they planned to use during a protest. Police searched protesters and their apartments, handcuffing several Occupiers who were later released. A few others were taken to police headquarters for questioning. The police had lethal weaponry, and apparently questioned several protesters on if they were Muslim, or if they "loved this country." You should read it and watch the video.
I have a huge problem with this. This slaps the Fourth Amendment in the face and laughs at it. This should be a case heard in the U.S. Supreme Court, and I'l tell you why. They received a "tip" on the Occupiers carrying guns, and it turned out to be bogus. I would be willing to bet that the tip was anonymous, or else the tipster would be arrested for lying to the police. If in fact the tip WAS anonymous, there is a PRECEDENT set by the Supreme Court concerning this. Florida v. J.L. involved an anonymous tipster saying a man had a gun. Police had no indication that the informant was reliable, but they took the tip anyway, searched the man, and found that he actually did have a weapon. The case was THROWN OUT. Why? Because the informant had NO RELIABILITY. That's the point with a "tipster." They have to have "indicia of reliability." Without that, the tip is useless, and anything gotten from that tip is inadmissible.
The second huge problem I have with this is not so simple. It involves a little 4th Amendment item called "seizure." A seizure happens when an officer, by means of physical force or show of authority, has in some way restrained the liberty of a citizen. In the picture shown in the video, you can plainly see that these officers are using a strong show of authority to get these citizens to stay put. They have their hands behind their heads, and in some cases, guns pointed at them. Blatant seizure. Which means the 4th Amendment is obviously involved. The Supreme Court's basic definition is " a person has been seized when a 'reasonable person would not feel free to leave.'" Is the seizure of these Occupiers unreasonable? Several questions would need to be answered for a definitive response. Was the tip anonymous? Was there a warrant? How was the warrant obtained? Did the police have probable cause and reasonable suspicion? If the answer to the "tip" question is yes, then the answers to the rest will follow. Fruit of the poisonous tree, people. If your evidence comes from faulty info that you didn't bother to check on, you are OUT OF LUCK.
If I were a part of Occupy Miami, I'd sue their little asses off. And I would win. THERE ARE LAWS. POLICE HAVE TO FOLLOW THEM TOO. REMEMBER THAT.
Also, I'm not an attorney. I'm currently studying Criminal Procedure. For some odd reason, I'm actually good at remembering case files.
To contact me, email firstname.lastname@example.org.