I am an OEF (Operation Enduring Freedom) veteran of the GWOT (Global War On Terror). I served in the Konar Province of Afghanistan for 15 months from May of ’07’ thru Aug. of 08 as a member of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 2/503 Infantry Bat. I was medically retired for service-related disabilities.
I’m one of those who was raised in a home to always respect the police, appreciate the officer, and trust the man in uniform. Cops have been my heroes before. They are those who we entrust to keep the peace in our communities, and to put themselves in danger to protect innocent people. I admire the integrity and bravery it takes for many people who consider becoming police in similar fashion to my respect for those who consider military service. I’m glad anytime someone takes an Oath to the Constitution with the intentions of upholding the unalienable Rights which it protects. Properly understood, the role of a Peace Officer is to serve and protect the Constitutional Rights of the people. That seems to me like fairly respectable work, but only when not abused or taken for granted.
Though Civil Liberties have always been important to me, I never understood just how important they are until I spent 15 months observing the lives of the occupied people of Afghanistan living in a combat zone in which their Civil Liberties are for all practical intents and purposes null and void as long as an occupying military is there. In any nation which is currently occupied by any sort of para-military police force, there is no respect for Rights. Experienced combat veterans know this to be an undeniable and absolute truth. For the veteran who has witnessed or even taken part in an occupation, it is blatantly obvious as a matter of basic common sense and seasoned conventional wisdom that the American public should never be subject to anything similar to what occupied people overseas suffer. There have even been problems in Afghanistan with rogue police teams setting up unofficial checkpoints to extort money from passers-by. That’s just one example of how growing police powers can victimize the public and actually become just exactly the opposite of a public servant – the cop himself actually becomes a public menace. American soldiers overseas have had to battle some of this kind of corruption to protect the Afghani people from their own police force, and we may have to be the ones to take up that mantle to protect the lives and property of peaceful and law-abiding American citizens from rogue and corrupt cops in America as well. We must stand up to the abuses of our Constitutional Rights by the growing American police state.
On the evening of the 18th of May, this last Monday, I became both personally and keenly aware of the unjust nature of the American police state. My older next-door neighbor came over and asked me to take him to run a quick errand in our neighborhood and come right back home, which I was happy to do as a neighborly gesture to his family who helps take care of his 94 yr.-old grandmother next door as well. We travelled less than a mile, made a quick stop, then began back toward home. I saw a blue light in my rear-view mirror and was pulled over in a heavy traffic area by a plain-clothes officer in an unmarked sports car. I have never been convicted, arrested, or even charged with a crime at my current age of 34. I was driving legally with no traffic violations, and all my paperwork was up to date and in order. Knowing I’d done nothing wrong, I did what I always do when pulled over; I put my wallet in the open, rolled down my driver’s side window, put my hands clearly in plain sight by the steering wheel, and waited for the officer to approach. Unfortunately, I was unable to use my recording device at that time. To my surprise, the first contact I had with this cop was him throwing my driver’s door open and him screaming at me to get out of the car. I looked at him with my hands still frozen in the open and calmly stated that I didn’t understand why I was being ordered out of my vehicle before even having a chance to speak or present any information or documentation. All I got in return was more yelling and orders. I moved one finger to point at my wallet and asked if I should grab it so as to present my identification and documentation. Though I was remaining cool-headed, I still only got loud orders issued at me by this jumpy and excitable cop. It was at this point that I knew my Rights were null and void before I even got a chance to find out what was going on. Unfortunately, my experience with the officer had convinced me that he was more than ready and willing to escalate the situation and that my only hope of making it through this stop without having potentially deadly force initiated against me was to cooperate at the expense of the Rights I served my Country to protect. I believe his cruiser dash cam video would be consistent with this point. This cowboy cop had managed to violate me in a way that no Taliban, Al Qaeda, or Afghani insurgents ever had, but I followed his orders to the letter and calmly answered all questions with “yes officer” and “no officer.” It’s unsettling to me that I had to forfeit my Rights in the interest of personal safety in order to de-escalate the situation and report it later. I was a helpless victim of rogue police tactics on the scene. I decided to go to the police station and ask to speak to the Chief of Police to express my concerns about an out-of-control man with a gun in an unmarked car shouting orders at people without probable cause or justified suspicion (I was never charged or even accused of anything by the police on the scene and allowed to go free with the only justification offered for stopping me was that I “looked suspicious.” I still haven’t figured out what was so suspicious about a legally operating vehicle with a bunch of Ron Paul stickers on the back. My passenger seemed to think it had more to do with a white man and one black passenger driving through our own economically struggling minority neighborhood. After all the decades of struggles our nation has suffered to live peacefully integrated, I would certainly hope that he’s mistaken about a black man and a white man not being able to drive down their own street without being harassed by crooked cops. Are we to be prisoners in our own homes?
The official from my local police department with whom I spoke expressed to me that he was sympathetic to my concerns for what I consider to be a militant cop who potentially presents a detriment to public safety and the Rights of the people in our community. At this point, I have decided not to pursue a formal written complaint against the offending officer as I prefer to give my local police dept. professional consideration in accepting their word that the problem can be squashed in-house. But, the local police dept. is now most certainly on my radar, and suspect among a large number of my neighbors. The incident has frightened me about the safety, security, and Rights of our community so much that it has inspired me to learn more about how to protect myself from dangerous police and educate others as well. To that end, I am now in the planning phases of launching a small local initiative to raise awareness of how not to fall victim to cowboy cops or be subject to constant abuse by rogue officers in my own community.
Americans deserve better than our police state is giving us. This is not Iraq. This is not Afghanistan. This is America. We are not in a combat zone, but the growing power of the police is making it increasingly hostile to our basic human freedom. I should not have had to have been the one who had to take on the responsibility of de-escalating the situation in which I found myself with the incompetent cop earlier this week. As a “Peace Officer,” he should have been the one looking to de-escalate any potential violence. Instead, he came off to this tactically trained and highly experienced combat veteran as someone who was either (1) A green-horn (2) spoiling for a fight, or (3) maybe just having a REALLY bad off day; no matter how you cut it, this pompous, arrogant, unprofessional, unconstitutional, dangerous, incompetent, irresponsible, and un-called for behavior must not be allowed to persist. Experienced combat veterans should know better than anyone that we not only shouldn’t tolerate this type of behavior by our public servants, but we should be the first ones to call out this familiar type of police corruption and stand firmly against it.
I’ll be damned if I’m going to spend 15 months dodging death in Afghanistan in a fight that was supposed to be about peace and freedom, only to come home and not have peace or freedom in my own community. It’s time to police the police. Badges and guns do not grant extra Rights. Please join me in educating yourself about the Constitutional Rights we have as Americans as a result of the blood of freedom-loving patriots, and the injustice of the growing police state which seeks to subvert those Constitutional Rights. Some of us will not give in quietly, and I think conscientious veterans should be the first to stand up to these pathetic egomaniacs. Here are some sources of information which I recommend as a starting point to empower yourself with the knowledge that will free your mind and possibly your person someday as well:
The “Language Of Liberty” show by Combat Veterans for Ron Paul on blogtalkradio.com – Episode http://www.blogtalkradio.com/combatveteransforronpaul/2012/06/21/taking-liberty-to-the-streets
The “Liberty Empowerment Project” with Nathan Cox: http://megmclain.com/2012/05/31/the-liberty-empowerment-project-working-title/
The “Peaceful Streets Project” with Antonio Buehler: http://peacefulstreets.com/
* Police caught in lie that could have sent an Army Ranger West Point Veteran, Stanford MBA grad., and school-teacher to prison. Video evidence: http://youtu.be/qNVZDpGCKks
CopBlock is a great source of information to protect yourself from cowboy cops: http://www.copblock.org/
Inspire Yourself ;-}
BY: Adam G. House is a medically retired veteran of the war in Afghanistan, where he served in the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team in the mountainous tribal Pashtun region of the Konar Province in the Pesche River Valley along the Pakistani border in 2007-08. He now lives with his medically referred companion dog named “Liberty” in Tennessee. He is a Staff Writer at Combat Veterans for Ron Paul, Co-Founder of Disabled Veterans for Ron Paul, and host of the “Language of Liberty” show.