Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Prosecutor In Baltimore Asks For Removal of First Amendment Rights

In Baltimore last week Antonio Gioia, a deputy state's attorney, filed a motion on behalf of Baltimore prosecutor Marilyn Mosby, asking for a gag order on the six police officers, their attorneys, court personnel and witnesses in the Freddie Gray case. The motion says "The efforts by defense counsel will have the necessary effect of undermining both the state's right to present the investigation to a fair and impartial grand jury in this matter and tainting the pool of potential jurors who may ultimately decide this case in a court of law."

All well and good, right? The prosecutor's office is simply trying to protect the integrity of the trial by preventing the defense from tainting the jury pool. Except the gag order doesn't pertain to them - which means they can say anything they wish about the case to the media or private audiences.

On the day the charges were announced, Prosecutor Marilyn Mosby made a 22 minute speech about the charges and the horrible behavior by the six accused police officers. And while she didn't take any questions that day, she had her chance to convince the public that the officers killed Freddie Gray and needed to be punished for it.

Attorneys for the officers, along with the police union, immediately went public and said that Ms. Mosby rushed to judgement, that the evidence in the case doesn't support the charges, and that Ms. Mosby should recuse herself from the case because she has political ties to Freddie Gray's family (as in Gray's family donated major funds to her election campaign.)'

Michael Davey, an attorney for one of the officers, says he believes Ms. Mosby, who is married to a city councilman, made "an egregious rush to judgment," because of the violent protests that were taking place in Baltimore at the time.

"We have grave concerns about the fairness and integrity of the prosecution of our officers."

After watching Ms. Mosby's announcement and listening to legal experts across the country talking about the known evidence vs the charges, I tend to agree with the defendant's attorney. We shall see if Ms. Mosby can validate the charges with provable evidence or not. In the meantime, taking away someone's First Amendment right to freedom of speech while at the same time maintaining your own seems a bit underhanded to me. If Ms. Mosby maintains the right to taint a jury the defense should have the same right.

In other news, President Obama has announced that certain surplus military equipment will be restricted from local police departments nationwide. The equipment banned includes tracked armored vehicles, weaponized aircraft, bayonets, grenade launchers, large-caliber firearms and some camouflage uniforms.

Let's look at those individually for a second. I'm not sure why a police department would need an armored vehicle with tank-like tracks. It's not like they'll be using it to chase down bad guys on all sorts of terrain. So that one isn't a big deal. Weaponized aircraft? It seems only Obama can have drones to use against civilians in the United States. I wonder if, when he takes over certain police departments in the country in the name of improving relationships with the community, he'll allow the new federal police force to have drones. After all - they'll be doing his bidding.

Bayonets. I can't really see any reason for police officers to carry bayonets - particularly bayonets fixed to their weapons. That's a bit over the top. Grenade launchers. That depends on what they'll be used for. Police often need gas guns in riot situations. If a grenade launcher can be adapted for tear gas cartridges I see no problem with the police having them. If not - if they can only be used for launching explosives, I don't see much need for them. Cops shouldn't be using grenades in citizens.

"Large caliber firearms" is too vague. Exactly what weapons are we talking about? I don't think a police force needs a 50 caliber machine gun. Is that what the President means? Or does he define it better in the paperwork?

Finally, some camouflage uniforms will be restricted - because everybody knows camouflage is dangerous since the police can become invisible if they wear the correct things...  Right.

The President also said there will be "more stringent controls on other equipment including "unmanned aerial vehicles, some specialized firearms, explosives and riot gear."

Again with the drones. I stand on what I said above. "Some specialized firearms" is again too vague. Which specialized firearms? AR-15s? The Los Angeles Police in 1997 learned a valuable lesson about being outgunned when two bad guys robbed a North Hollywood bank armed with an illegally-modified fully automatic Norinco Type 56 S-1s (an AK-47-style weapon), a Bushmaster XM15 Dissipator, and a HK-91 rifle with high capacity drum magazines and ammunition capable of penetrating vehicles and police Kevlar vests. They were both wearing full body armor that made them immune to small arms fire from the police, who at the time had only 9mm and .30 caliber handguns and a few shotguns.

The police couldn't get close enough for head shots and several officers were wounded in the melee. S.W.A.T. officers were called in and, seeing the need for more firepower, went to a firearms store in the neighborhood and acquired AR-15 rifles. Did that bring the shootout to an end? We don't really know since the first robber killed himself with his own gun and the second went down after being shot in the legs (with an AR-15) by a cop who was on the other side of an escape vehicle shooting under the vehicle. Could a 9mm pistol have taken him down? Possibly - although the damage caused by a .223 or a 5.56 round does a lot more damage than a 9mm round. The second suspect died on the scene from his injuries before the ambulance arrived.

Fast forward to 2015. The Obama administration and the left in general believe that AR-15 rifles, "assault rifles" as they call them, should be banned and believes even the police shouldn't have them because it makes them appear to be "militarized." They also believe the the police shouldn't have armored vehicles for the same reason. Now it seems the President doesn't want the police to have riot gear.

“We’ve seen how militarized gear can sometimes give people a feeling like there’s an occupying force, as opposed to a force that’s part of the community that’s protecting them and serving them,” the president said Monday in Camden, N.J. “We’re going to prohibit some equipment made for the battlefield that is not appropriate for local police departments.”

One cannot help but wonder if the President is trying to level the playing field so next time there is a major riot somewhere in the country the police no longer have an upper hand when it comes to force. What kind of birdbrain concept is that? Does he really believe the rioters only burn, loot and destroy because the police look intimidating? That's the most stupid thing I've heard in a long time. In Baltimore the police stood down. How did that work out?

I can see it now....  "There is a large protest planned for tonight beginning at 6:30. In preparation for violence all officers report to the armory and draw your rocks and bottles with which to defend yourself. Do not - I repeat do not don protective gear as the protesters won't have any and the President said we have to keep things fair and equitable."

Yeah - that'll work.

President Obama knows as much about proper armament of a police force as he does about what a surgeon needs to perform a surgical procedure. His committee to look into this topic included none other than Stephanie Rawlings-Blake - the now infamous mayor of Baltimore who not only watched part of her city burn but gave the rioters permission to do it and told her police force to do nothing. Yeah - she's a great choice to decide what weapons and gear are needed by the police.

President Obama's attitude and actions will probably get cops killed. Oh wait - his repeated allegations that cops are racists have already gotten a couple of cops executed in New York by a man who sought revenge for Eric Garner a Michael Brown. Since the President decided to demonize police and stick up for the suspects - even though his own Justice Department said Michael Brown's death was justified - Obama bears some responsibility for the two officers' death. I can't help but wonder how many more police officers will die because of Obama's new rules.

Finally, speaking of drones - it seems our neighborhood is changing. Last evening my wife and I were outside in front of our home and kept hearing a sound like a small motorcycle revving up and then fading away into the distance. Then it would return and do it again. My wife happened to look up and lo and behold - there was a four engine drone about 80 feet above our street. Facing West, it seemed to be looking down on us. It sat stationary for about a minute then turned South and moved away fairly quickly. I thought about getting in the car and following it but didn't have my keys at the time and by the time I went inside and got them it would have been gone. 

It could be coincidence but it seemed as if, once we saw it, the operator decided to move away. Perhaps I should put my shotgun (that I don't really have... wink, wink) next to the front door in case one day it returns....

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