May 19, 2014

By: Kelly Diamond, Publisher

SWATI heard there was a time when SWAT teams were reserved for really dangerous situations.  For example, a man has a bank full of hostages.  It only seemed right that a more tightly trained tactical team would be on the scene.  I assumed in situations like that, you have the negotiator there to diffuse the tension and therefore mitigating the potential for innocent death as well, but if things escalated despite every effort to peacefully right the course, SWAT was there to make the close calls.

SWAT would find a way to surround or maybe infiltrate the building and usher out the hostages safely.  Or perhaps they would strategically place themselves where they could get a clean shot of the man who is doing this to others.

I can’t be the only one who suffered this same delusion!

The unfortunate reality can be found at the Kent State shootings, or Waco, or the MOVE situation in Philadelphia.

What I imagined and was told the purpose of police – or more specifically SWAT teams – was, versus what they have actually done are very, very different.  In all three situations, there was some sort of advocacy or lifestyle choice to buck the system.  Not in any violent way, but indeed in all three cases, we have innocent people dying for daring to either go off the grid or vocalize a grievance against the grid.

In a previous blog, “A Brief Tour of Events”, I touched on the various government agencies that have their very own SWAT teams:

  • Department of Agriculture
  • Railroad Retirement Board
  • Tennessee Valley Authority
  • Office of Personnel Management
  • Consumer Product Safety Commission
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

As a matter of fact, the EPA recently, in a tiny Alaska mining town, participated in this: “The Environmental Protection Agency, whose armed agents in full body armor participated, acknowledged taking part in the Alaska Environmental Crimes Task Force investigation, which it said was conducted to look for possible violations of the Clean Water Act.”

That is about as valid a response as when the FDA decided to conduct a sting operation and bust wide open the Amish raw milk crime syndicate!

Not to be outdone, of course, the Department of Agriculture also wants in on this.  And here I thought they were going bankrupt subsidizing all the large farms to grow more corn!  Nope!  They have plenty of money for their very own SWAT team!  Well fantastic because you never know when a local farmer might get a bit uppity!

Look at all these agencies!  They are unelected government officials who created rules.  Contrast that with elected legislators who vote on laws.  Contrast that with outright executive orders.  You done?  Of course you are because let’s face it: there is no difference.  That you can be arrested, or shot for not only resisting arrest for NOT breaking a law, but violating a regulation, is disgusting!

Here are some MORE agencies that have their own SWAT teams.  You’ll notice how Amtrak made the cut for a “tactical unit”.  Amtrak.  You know, the public rail system.  But why stop there!?  What about the Department of Education?  I heard you weren’t on board with standardized testing and Common Core… I heard you like to home school your kids… I heard you talk shit about “friendly numbers” in the “New Math”… I heard your kid hasn’t been attending school because they are helping to take care of their five younger siblings…

If violating a regulation of the Railroad Retirement Board would warrant a SWAT team, then this is a tacit admission that there is something someone could do that would warrant violent and/or physical force.

(Bear with me, because the connection and the argument seem so crystal clear to me, but I also understand that clairvoyance shouldn’t be requisite to get where I’m going.)

My issue with all this is no different than the issue I have with paramilitary local police driving BEARCATS, APC, or MRAP: the implicit readying for warfare.  Against whom?  As the meme rightly points out, if you want to know who’s looking for a riot, just find the ones who came dressed for one.  And coming to the scene ready to kill makes me wonder about the presumption of not just guilt, but the presumption of guilt of a capital crime!   If the state is willing to send an agent who is prepared to kill someone, then the state itself is issuing a death warrant to someone or perhaps ANYONE on-scene.

Is violating a regulation issued by a non-legislative entity within the government really tantamount to an act of WAR against the United States, whereby deserving a militarized gang of mercenaries to show up on the scene clad with thousands of dollars in killing gear?

When I read the stories, no matter how slanted they are in favor of the police, all I see is someone resisting arrest or running away.  In both cases, neither are capital crimes.  Yet those acts have received swifter executions of death sentences than those who sit on death row – who’ve ostensibly been convicted of a heinous crime!  It makes no sense that someone who is presumed innocent would get executed for nothing while someone who’s been found guilty is still in communications with their lawyer and the governor seeking a stay of execution years after their conviction.

Please note: I’m very much against the death penalty in general, but I’m even MORE against killing innocent people for not kowtowing to a cop!

Not that it even matters, but in that old relic we call the Constitution, there is an amendment which discusses cruel and unusual punishment.  It’s the 8th Amendment.  Well, I’m wondering why this clause doesn’t extend to cruel and unusual responses by the state!  I mean, why the hell is there a provision in the law that protects someone from receiving an unfit punishment for a crime they committed (e.g. 20 lashes for shoplifting a candy bar), but there’s NO provision in our laws to protect us from the hyperbolic overreactions of the state’s first responders prior to even determining who the guilty parties are, much less IF, in fact, anyone is guilty of anything at all!

Think about how utterly insane this is: If I go to trial and am found guilty of shoplifting a candy bar, my sentence cannot be execution by a firing squad by the state.  BUT, if the police show up and suspect that I am guilty of shoplifting, I can be sentenced to execution by firing squad without so much as a trial.

This is your land of the free.  Radly Balko writes extensively about the militarization of our police forces in great documented detail in his book: Rise of the Warrior Cop.  The only unfortunate part of his analysis is his insistence that we do still need police officers.  We don’t.  We need peace keepers.  They operate like firemen, only instead of putting out literal fires when called, they diffuse social fires when called.  What I don’t need are troops of militarized cops rolling down my street preparing for Marshall Law over someone not having three sinks in their restaurant!  Warfare gear is entirely unnecessary unless you are at war.

SWAT used to stand for “SPECIAL WEAPONS AND TACTICS”.  There’s nothing special about them.  It’s actually quite normal now.  The “S” should really represent “STANDARD”, if they wanted to be honest at all about it.

UPDATE 12:21 A.M. 5/19/14: I nearly forgot about this little raid based on a HOAX and the reaction of the Midland County Sheriff’s Department when they rolled onto the scene in an APC and took children away from their mothers because of alleged child abuse.  Once it was determined that there was no abuse at all on their compound but that they were in fact very peaceful people, the mothers petitioned for their children back, and were met with the CPS saying, they didn’t want to break the bonds the children had made with their foster families.