OK

In Iraq what you see on the following video was (and I imagine still is) a common occurrence.  But this is not a video from Iraq.  Its from the good old heartland of America:

This was the work of a Columbia, Missouri SWAT team.  They did this all this (pointed automatic weapons at children and their parents, and shot their pet dogs in their presence) all to find a small amount of marijuana on the premises (a misdemeanor offense).  

After this act of terrorism (you tell me what to call it?) the police then took the kids from the parents on and charged the parent with child endangerment.  Now, you can be a drunk and can beat your kids, you can sex have sex with them, you can wave loaded weapons around in the presence of your kids -- these I understand as legitimate reasons for a child endangerment charge.  But it takes real chutzpah to shoot the family dogs in front of the kids and claim that a small amount of poy found on the premises constitutes child endangerment.

To be clear, this "arrest" occurred back in February (here's the link to the local paper's story about what occurred, but this is the first time video of the events that night and the actions of the police officers involved are available for viewing.  It;s quite frightening to witness, especially since no member of this family resisted these officers, yet they stormed the house like it was filled with members if armed and dangerous gang members.

What is even more frightening is that hundreds of these types of unnecessary raids (according to the CATO Institute, that bastion of socialism*) occur every day in the land of the free:

Americans have long maintained that a man's home is his castle and that he has the right to defend it from unlawful intruders. Unfortunately, that right may be disappearing. Over the last 25 years, America has seen a disturbing militarization of its civilian law enforcement, along with a dramatic and unsettling rise in the use of paramilitary police units (most commonly called Special Weapons and Tactics, or SWAT) for routine police work. The most common use of SWAT teams today is to serve narcotics warrants, usually with forced, unannounced entry into the home.

These increasingly frequent raids, 40,000 per year by one estimate, are needlessly subjecting nonviolent drug offenders, bystanders, and wrongly targeted civilians to the terror of having their homes invaded while they're sleeping, usually by teams of heavily armed paramilitary units dressed not as police officers but as soldiers. These raids bring unnecessary violence and provocation to nonviolent drug offenders, many of whom were guilty of only misdemeanors. The raids terrorize innocents when police mistakenly target the wrong residence. And they have resulted in dozens of needless deaths and injuries, not only of drug offenders, but also of police officers, children, bystanders, and innocent suspects.

40,000 home invasions by armed SWAT teams each year for often minor drug offenses?  Have we gone mad?

I have a fair amount of controlled prescription drugs in my house prescribed for my wife, my daughter and for me for various serious medical conditions.  I can envision some idiot seeing these medications (all legal prescriptions) and calling the cops on my family.  So this isn't as far fetched a scenario for many people as you think.  Instead of using resources to track murderers, thieves, burglars, vandals, rapists, armed robbers, and white collar criminals who defraud us of billions of dollars every year, our law enforcement officials are committing large sums of their budgets in these paramilitary SWAT teams.  

And what do these heavily armed, military trained police units do most of the time to justify their existence?  They carry out raids on many people whose biggest crime might be smoking a joint now and then or an addiction to Vicodin or other controlled substances.  Other police overuse tasers as means to punish or force compliance from individuals who pose no danger to the officers in question.  

In short, we have become a police state by degrees.  We have surrendered our liberties and freedom, and for what?  Because we think this happens only to other people?  I have to ask you: Is this the America you want to live in?  It sure isn't the one in which I want my children to grow up into adulthood.

* Just to be clear, The Cato Institute is a conservative, libertarian oriented think tank, for those of you you failed to recognize their name.  I was being sarcastic.

Originally posted to Steven D on Wed May 05, 2010 at 04:08 PM PDT.

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