Drug Legalization

DC Police Say Knowing Your Rights is an Indicator of Criminal Activity!

|

From Steve Silverman of Flex Your Rights (makers of DVDs that tell people how to deal with the police when being pulled over in a car and other situations) comes this insight into the mind of law enforcement.

Our story thus far: Capitol Hemp is a Washington, D.C.-based retailer that sells fully legal stuff made from hemp and barely legal water pipes (barely legal because as Jacob Sullum has explained, the authorities argue that if you can put your weed in there, it may just be illegal). In October, Washington cops raided two Capitol Hemp stores on the grounds that selling pipes or bongs is against the law.

As the blog DCist notes, part of the search warrant for the raid contained this:

4. While your Affiant was looking at the smoking devices U/C [redacted] observed a DVD that was for sale entitled "10 Rules for Dealing with Police". The DVD gave the following listed topics that were covered as:

     A. Deal with traffic stops, street stops and police at your door.

     B. Know your rights and maintain your cool, and;

     C. Avoid common police tricks and prevent humiliating searches.

Your Affiant notes that while this DVD is informative for any citizen, when introduced into a store that promotes the use of a controlled substance this DVD becomes a tool for deceiving law enforcement to keep from being arrested. The typical citizen would not need to know detailed information as to US Supreme Court case law regarding search and seizure because they are not transporting illegal substances in fear of being caught. 

More here.

There you have it, folks: Knowing your rights = "deceiving law enforcement."

As Silverman, who notes that police deparments around the country use the DVD while training cadets, writes:

The Bill of Rights is not a trick or a loophole to protect criminals. It's the highest law of the land. It's also a template for good police work and good citizenship. That's what Flex Your Rights is all about.

Anyone who's watched 10 Rules for Dealing with Police will likely agree that both police and the public stand to benefit when more people learn the film's lessons. Flex Your Rights has seen how numerous institutions, ranging from police departments to high schools to hemp stores, all have a common interest and unique ability to reach specific audiences with this important information. No one should ever be afraid to share it in fear that they'll be accused of condoning criminal activity.

More here.

Reason's Tim Cavanaugh interviews Silverman about his patently subversive interest in the rule of law:

Doh! Jacob Sullum writes up the same story right below me!

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

92 responses to “DC Police Say Knowing Your Rights is an Indicator of Criminal Activity!

  1. This is what you get when you leave thins up to the free market: ruinous competition that leads to a waste of resources, namely the time of writers.

  2. Would the Metropolitan Police of the District of Columbia care to eat shit and fuck off?

    But this is DC we’re talking about — it’s an authoritarian hole, and none of this should be surprising to anybody, come to think of it.

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful and timely commentary.

    2. I would prefer they eat shit and die from it.

  3. I liked Jacob’s post better.

  4. Preach it, brother!

  5. Not consenting to a search means you have something to hide.

    1. “Way back when” the Richmond PD was running traffic stops off certain I-95 exits, supposedly to stop drugs and guns coming into the city… never mind I-64, US 1, US 301, and endless state and local routes. I purposely went through one after it was announced on WRVA, just to find out what they’d do if you didn’t volunteer. Not consenting to a search means you have something to hide. You damn near quoted the man.

      1. Whoa, two Richmonders commenting here? On the same thread?

        I’m right now looking out my office window at I-95 as it crosses the James.

    2. You shouldn’t have to be inconvenienced by a search just because an officer asks if he can. I’ve had my car searched and they make a huge mess of it. When I was asked to search the officer said either I could let him do it or he could let the dog rip my car apart. Afterwards, I asked what made him ask to search and he said since we hadn’t been drinking so his next question is always, is anything illegal in the car and can he take a look. He even specifically said that he didn’t see or smell anything that made him ask. Then added, “I’m just really good at my job.” My boyfriend and I ended up being arrested at the end of the search and when I received the evidence report the officer had added 17 grams of marijuana that didn’t exist and the report said that the reason he searched was because of a bowl in plain view which was a lie and so was the rest of his report. So yes, in this case I had something to hide, but I no longer drive with anything to hide and I will never consent to a search again.

  6. I think that the inclusion of an unconstitutional justification within a warrant should invalidate the warrant itself and render the fruits of the resulting search inadmissible as evidence. (Regardless of whether other justifications were included within the same warrant.)

    “We have to search this place because people there are talking too much about their enumerated rights,” is a blatantly unconstitutional basis for a search.

    1. I wouldn’t invalidate the warrant if there is another basis for it. But yes, the judges should have thrown this thing back in their faces.

      1. The problem with the warrant is that it demonstrates that the magistrate was motivated in whole or in part by a belief that speech discussing enumerated rights was somehow either a criminal act or evidence of a criminal act.

        Regardless of the other available evidence, if the police were selecting one establishment to search based on that belief it should invalidate the search.

        If a warrant read (summarized):

        1. We observed suspicious activity at location X, including a large number of cars coming and going and people exchanging small parcels at the door in a surreptitious manner.

        2. An informant told us he bought marijuana at location X.

        3. We saw lots of niggers at location X, and everybody knows all niggers are no-good pot smoking criminals.

        …I think the warrant should be invalid even if #1 and #2 are true, because it shows the police probably selected this target for observation and investigation based on criteria that violate the 14th Amendment.

        1. Maybe it should be. But under the law, it would not be. Merely stating an impermissible reason does not invalidate the warrant as long as there were other valid reasons for the warrant.

          1. I’d think getting a bunch of searches and evidence tossed out because the affadavit getting the warrant included something illegitimate along with a bunch of legitimate stuff, maybe they’d reduce the number of illegitimate things?

      2. I would. If they had an actual basis too, that’s too bad for them. Don’t violate the constitution and you can get your warrant.

    1. SULLUWND?
      Nothing came up when googled…

      1. I shall translate (although I rarely understand Warty – the mind recoils at the horror of the mere possibility):

        PWND by Sullum, who reported this first (four minutes earlier).

  7. There you have it, folks: Knowing your rights = “deceiving law enforcement.”

    Arrest all the lawyers, and judges

    1. Good thing you didn’t say cops.

  8. So on the one hand, ignorance of the law does nothing to absolve one of a crime.

    On the other hand, knowing the law is itself evidence of a crime.

    On the other other hand, it is literally impossible to know all the laws.

    1. Wish I had been a seer. 21st Century America would have given me enough material for a hundred 1984s.

      1. it was a warning, you fucking morons!

        1. Nope. Cookbook.

      2. I can’t envision the future ending up like 1984. Brave New World on the other hand…

    2. beware of *’s with three hands.

      1. The 3rd one is the gripping hand, duh.

    3. ‘Brazil’ was a documentry.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…..re=related

  9. The typical citizen would not need to know detailed information as to US Supreme Court case law regarding search and seizure because they are not transporting illegal substances in fear of being caught.

    Hey, if you’ve got nothing to hide, you don’t need to know the SCOTUS law on illegal searches and siezure, amirite? I mean, if you’re not doing anything wrong, you don’t mind us taking a look in your car, do you? We can do this the hard way or we can do it the easy way, if you know what I mean. It’s up to you.

    1. Yeah, apparently only people who are criminals would need to know the Bill of Rights, because if you’re not doing anything wrong, why would you need it?

      James Madison is spinning in his grave so fast he could power Manhattan during Christmas.

      1. I absolutely believe all the statist bullshit coming about lately is just the latest green-energy initiative. Cemetaries will be a little harder to vistit with all the cabling coming out of the graves, but it’s worth it if it reduces our dependence on fossil fuels and icky-gross nuclear.

        Rotocopranetic Power FTW!

        1. (Necrotonetic?)

  10. This is a public service announcement! With guitars!!

  11. the authorities argue that if you can put your weed in there, it may just be illegal
    ————————
    out of curiosity: since I can use any lighter to fire up weed irrespective of its container, is the lighter also illegal?

    1. It depends on whether they fell like going after you.They write vague laws in order to be able to apply them at will to go after those they disapprove of.

    2. Only if it looks like something other than a lighter.

    3. Well, if you don’t have a cigarette on you, you obviously intended to either commit arson or smoke drugs, so, yeah.

  12. The Fourth Amendment has been so ridiculously riddled with exceptions that they may as well just take the ol’ magic marker and x out the damn thing.

    1. You know, I wish they would teach a revised constitution in school that has all the exceptions and expansions that the supreme court has added/subtracted over the years. This would reduce the incidence of constitution worship by 10.57%!

    2. Yeah you got it. We keep the constitution around for PR, you know, to show people how much we care.

  13. Isn’t it a bit of a catch 22 to state that the average citizen has no need to know the details of their rights, but to then charge them based on the premise that it’s a citizen’s responsibility to know the law?

    1. The only law you’re allowed to be aware of is the one that prohibits you from being aware of other laws.

      1. Ouch…my balls!

  14. “The typical citizen would not need to know detailed information as to US Supreme Court case law regarding search and seizure because they are not transporting illegal substances in fear of being caught.”

    To rephrase: “If you aren’t doing something illegal, you don’t have anything to hide, and therefore have no need for privacy. You have no reason to know of any law that would provide for such privacy, unless you are doing something illegal. Therefore, if you want privacy, you’re doing something illegal, and any search is justified.”

    This is the sort of backwards police logic that nauseates me.

    1. Nauseates? I have a different take:

      Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.

      1. I don’t think most normal people are tempted to run around slitting throats, and I don’t think it would solve much. I think normal people would agree that the protection of our rights – like our right to privacy – does not necessitate infringing on the rights of others, particularly their right to life.

        I, for one, have never thought about “hoisting the black flag and beginning to slit throats.” I did, however, notice that this is “Reason.com,” not “ReactionaryKneeJerkViolence.com,” and presume that reason can (and should) prevail over such a mentality.

        1. Drink?

          1. Definitely.

            1. back when postrel was in charge, nobody would have needed to ask if that was a “drink!” or not.

        2. The quote is not meant to be taken literally. I take it you’re not familiar with H.L. Mencken.

          1. The quote is not meant to be taken literally. I take it you’re not familiar with H.L. Mencken.

            Adorable. Please deign to enlighten me, O Mencken scholar, what the quote does mean.

            I do not even know what “not meant to be taken literally means”. Do you mean that men are only figuratively tempted at times to start revolutions?

            1. LOL, it’s just my opinion. No need to pee your pants over it.

              It’s just my observation of Mencken’s writings that he was disgusted by conformity and slavish devotion to authority, and was just expressing the notion that normal people share this aggravation.

              But if you want to take it as a literal call to violent revolution, I don’t give a fuck. Crown yourself the winner, congratulations!

        3. I, for one, have never thought about “hoisting the black flag and beginning to slit throats.” I did, however, notice that this is “Reason.com,” not “ReactionaryKneeJerkViolence.com,” and presume that reason can (and should) prevail over such a mentality.

          Oh my – let me get the fainting couch and the smelling salts ready.

        4. I think normal people would agree that the protection of our rights – like our right to privacy – does not necessitate infringing on the rights of others, particularly their right to life

          True. But, this isn’t talking about slitting some random person’s throat because a government agent infringed upon my rights.

          It’s talking about slitting that person’s throat and you’ll find a lot of agreement with the idea that tryanny shouldn’t be tolerated. Of course, this statement doesn’t come up because one cop violated one person’s rights, it comes up when groups of police get together with judges and groups of prosecutors to blatantly railroad people.

          When the other avenues of recourse become blocked, there is justification to take matters into your own hands. Even if you don’t survive, you protect others.

          If the police, prosecutors, and judges don’t wish to end up on the losing end of a revolution, they should stop doing things that lead people to believe that revolution is the only way to stop the abuse.

          The sacrifices and burdens of keeping the peace and trying to keep society intact should be borne by the government AND the people, not just the people.

        5. I think normal people would agree that the protection of our rights – like our right to privacy – does not necessitate infringing on the rights of others, particularly their right to life.

          What do you think the American Revolution involved – cookies and tea?

            1. and cookies, right?

        6. If you keep clutching those pearls so tightly, you’re going to break the strand.

  15. Oh, crap. I have several copies of the Constitution (and–eek!–the Bill of Rights) in my home.

    1. Not for long. Won’t be any dogs left either.

      1. Ha! The trick is on them, because we have no dogs!

        1. I’m sure they’ll find your cats to be unusually threatening. Also any rabbits, hamsters, lizards or children you may possess.

        2. Just like you don’t have any drugs or guns?

          1. Actually, I don’t. I’m not that kind of libertarian, especially in the former sense.

            I do have a turtle. And, of course, beyond the Constitution, I also have law books and libertarian treatises that could be viewed as heretical.

            1. Well the cops say they found all these dogs, drugs, and guns in your house.

              1. Yes, well, they are good at doing that when the need arises. However, my possession of constitutional propaganda should be adequate for their purposes.

            2. I do have a turtle.

              Ohhhh boy. I assume you have all the proper paper work and licensing for that imported turtle. And it better be imported because all American Turtles are illegal to own as a pet.

        3. Do you have any Gibson guitars?

      2. The dogs are fighting back

        http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_n…..s-buttocks

  16. Wonder when our resident peace officer will come and defend this . . .

    1. I would be extremely surprised if he did.

    2. He’s a law & order kinda guy, not a state sycophant. I acknowledge that the difference is sometimes hard to distinguish, but it is there. For non-anarchists at least.

  17. Ok, I’ll bite . . . maybe it is time to hoist the flag and spill some blood. We’ve been relying upon a feckless legal system to protect us, but that very same system is the source of police illegality. Talk about a motherfuckin catch-22 . . . and what point does it become necessary to stop pretending that there is any chance for reversing this bullshit through strictly legal means?

  18. In an effort to head off the inimitable Reason grammar Nazi’s, “and what point” above should read “at what point”. Thanks.

    1. Plural Nazis does not require an apostrophe.

      I’m totally fucking with you; pedantic grammar douchebags suck cock by choice (thank you Mr. Tom Nutall for that nugget of wisdom).

    2. i have a search warrant here with your name on it…………….

    3. That’s not a grammar mistake. It is just the wrong word. The only thing worse than grammar Nazis are people who use the word “grammar” inappropriately to refer to spelling or word choice/usage.

      1. Now see if you can find the grammatical error in the above post.

        1. “Thing” in the third sentence doesn’t agree with its verb? (only ’cause you asked)

  19. The typical citizen would not need to know detailed information as to US Supreme Court case law regarding search and seizure because they are not transporting illegal substances in fear of being caught.

    WAR IS PEACE.
    SLAVERY IS FREEDOM.
    IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.

  20. You have to break the law before you know whats in it.

  21. I witnessed first hand the cops use of the ‘well you’ve got nothing to hide’ meme, when, a little over a year ago I was stopped on a backroad coming from my ex-inlaw’s house, for matching the dscription of a hit and run suspect. The cop, a lady, asked me out of the car, and I complied, then asked if she could search my vehicle. I declined, stating I would happy to let her search had she a warrant, at which point the old, ‘easy way or hard way,’ argument came out. She calls for backup, three cars come now. At this point, I start recording with my cellphone. One cop objects, and I am arrested for making threatening gestures. I did no such thing, just stood on the side of the road filming their cars and behaviors. I did not say a word after I declined the search. Not. One. Word. I’m taken to the police station where I ask for a lawyer. I was released after almost an hour with no charges filed, and when I asked for my cell phone back they gave it back. All video was erased. I filed a formal complaint, then filed a FOIA request for the dash videos of the cop cars that showed up to the stop. And wouldn’t you know it, all three dash cams were inoperative that day. Strange isn’t it? All this because I declined a search. Or, as the cops would say, chose to do things the hard way for standing up for my rights.

    1. Isolated incident, a couple bad apples, most cops are good, etc. etc.

    2. I always interpreted it as “the hard way” for the cops. It’s much harder for them if they need to get a warrant than it is if they can just search your property by tricking you into thinking they actual have some authority to do so.

      1. Not only can they trick you but they can threaten you with enhanced interrogation!

    3. Citizen’s tribunal, gasoline, tires, lighter.

      Repeat as necessary until they get the hint.

  22. “Know your rights” by The Clash seems appropriate.

  23. well….they kinda have a point

  24. This is exactly the kind of thing that made my choice to emigrate out of the Usa. For 10 yrs. I watched as they’ve stripped peoples birth rights out from underneath them. It’s something I’m just not willing to retire with in 50 or so years. Therefore, I will be moving because of overly egotistical law enforcement, that seem to have God Syndrome when on duty, and sometimes off. One thing I’ve yet to see in this country, is an officer search or pull over another officer. i have however, witnessed an officer confiscate supposed paraphernalia, then sell it back to teenagers at their local park for a price. Who will police the police, if not The Citizens? That’s Right, No One.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.