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Today’s Supreme Court Ruling is Bad, But not as Bad as it Sounds

Today’s Supreme Court ruling in Virginia v. Moore upheld the use of evidence seized during arrests that are illegal under state law. It’s a terrible ruling to be sure, but it’s hardly the deathblow to our 4th Amendment rights that some may assume. As always, we hope concerned citizens will take a moment to learn what the ruling does and does not do and remember that asserting your constitutional rights during police encounters remains the best choice.
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No Warrant, No Search [Video]: Flex Goes Door-to-door with DC ACLU

A couple weeks ago Scott and I joined the National Capitol Area ACLU for a door-to-door outreach effort in Southeast D.C. warning citizens about a “knock and talk” program the DC Police Department threatened to implement.

This short video, which was my first behind-the-camera creation, tells the story:

I couldn’t have scripted this much better: At about 1:35 into the video, a woman mistakes us for the police and eagerly invites us in to search her home. It’s funny, but it proves our point about why this information is needed. (For all she knows, someone could have left some marijuana under her couch cushion for an officer to find and get her and her family kicked out of public housing.)

Responding to the unexpected public backlash generated through such community outreach, DC Police Chief Lanier recently announced that her so-called Safe Homes initiative would be scaled back. Under the new plan, police will not go door-to-door requesting consent. Citizens wishing to be searched must instead call the police and invite them into their homes.

In other words, the good guys won, and Chief Lanier was left to take the blame for her hare-brained initiative.

For a refresher on how to refuse home searches, watch this.

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Are Racist Cops Better Organized Than We Thought?

This is just chilling:

INSIDE the locker of a narcotics cop, Philadelphia police officials recently made a shocking discovery: A cartoon of a man, half as an officer in uniform and half as a Klansman with the words: “Blue By Day – White By Night. White Power,” according to police officials.

Schweizer, 33, joined the force in June 1997 and makes $54,794 a year, city payroll records show. He became part of the elite Narcotics Strike Force about six years ago. As an undercover, plainclothes cop who worked day and night shifts, Schweizer was part of a surveillance team that watched drug buys and locked up hundreds of suspected drug dealers. He frequently testified in court as a witness for prosecutors. [Philadelphia Daily News]

Racial disparities abound in the war on drugs, but most analysis of the drug war’s disparate impact focuses on institutional bias. Rarely are we confronted with such a disturbing window into the racist mindset of an individual officer. Such beliefs render one thoroughly unqualified to carry out law-enforcement duties in any capacity and raise serious questions about this officer’s past actions.

More troubling, however, is the possibility that Schweizer is just the tip of the iceberg. Is he a cartoonist? Did he draw the thing himself, or is there a larger organization that produces and markets police-themed racist merchandise to a clientele of closeted white supremacist police officers? I don’t know the answer, but this poster sounds like a logo for something very creepy.

Of course, this is just one anecdotal incident, but when such revelations occur within an institution with such a hideously rich tradition of racial bias, it certainly doesn’t feel like a coincidence. It is an unflattering portrait of our criminal justice system that adherents to such ideology are able to assimilate within it. Indeed, had he merely possessed the wisdom to keep racist cartoons out if his locker, this officer would still be hard at work filling our prisons with young black and Hispanic drug offenders.

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Severe Police Tactics in Suburbia

I’m about to dive into a three-part series in The Philadelphia Inquirer investigating heavy-handed policing tactics in suburbia.

It makes me proud that my hometown paper has the balls to allow writer Mark Fazlollah to delve so deeply into a chronically underreported social problem.

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