Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Welcome to Sulphur Springs, Where the Police Chief is a Murderer

Support Your Local Murderer: Chief Brackney of the Sulphur Springs PD.

Like many third-world countries, Arkansas is a beautiful place inhabited by lovely people who are burdened with an extravagantly corrupt ruling class. This helps explain, but by no means does it justify, the fact that the minuscule town of Sulphur Springs, Arkansas now has a convicted killer as its police chief. 

In January 2010, Coleman Brackney, at the time an officer in the department that menaces nearby Bella Vista, murdered a man named James Ahern following a high-speed chase. After trapping Ahern’s vehicle and then pounding on his window, Brackney shot him six times – the last time in the back. Brackney claimed that Ahern – who had a record of trivial and petty offenses, including the non-crime of “resisting arrest” – attempted to run him over after the chase had ended. This was a lie, of course: The dashcam video documented that Brackney was never in danger
The victim: James Ahern.

By any honest definition, this was an act of murder. Yet Brackney was prosecuted for “negligent homicide” – a charge that assumes that the officer, who shot Ahern six times at point-blank range, including once in the back, did not intend to kill the victim. He was sentenced to a single month in the Benton County Jail and fined $1,000. The families of the victim were given a $20,000 settlement by the county. 

After Brackney was released, his criminal record was expunged. Last April, the Arkansas Commission on Law Enforcement – a regulatory body that enforces less rigorous professional standards than whatever body sanctions professional wrestling referees – reinstated Brackney’s “peace officer” certification.  All that he needed now was a job opening – and one was soon created in Sulphur Springs.

Between late 2010 and March 25 of this year, residents of Sulphur Springs had known the singular blessing of living in a community devoid of police. It is an abuse of language to refer to Sulphur Springs as a “town”; as of the last census, its population was about 500 people, and it had no measurable crime rate. There hasn’t been a murder in Sulphur Springs in recent memory. By hiring a murderer as police chief, the people who presume to rule that tiny village managed to handle both the supply and demand side of law enforcement, as it were.

“I told the guys the day I left I would be back,” gloated Brackney in a local TV news interview, displaying the gift for self-preoccupation that typifies his caste. “You put the uniform back on and you look at yourself in the mirror, and you think, `I’m back.’” Of course, the same cannot be said of Brackney’s victim, for whom the newly enthroned police chief apparently cannot spare a thought.

Indeed, Brackney displays a sociopath’s inability to recognize that he did anything wrong by murdering a man and then perjuring himself in an attempt to conceal the crime.
Like every other police officer who has committed criminal violence against a member of the public, Brackney takes refuge in the casual elitism that is commonplace among those in his profession: “Until you have actually rode [sic] with a police officer or have a family member or a friend that [sic] is a police officer, you don’t really know what that job entails.” 

In other words: Until you have been licensed to perform acts of criminal aggression or unless you have a relative thus invested, you have no moral standing to criticize those who use that spurious sanction to commit criminal homicide.

To paraphrase Albert Nock’s deathless insight, government police forces don’t exist to eliminate crime, but rather to enforce a government monopoly on crime. Coleman Brackney embodies that principle with uncanny fidelity. This is to be expected of Arkansas, where there quite literally are no standards governing the qualifications and performance of police officers.

 Practically any hominid who can drive a car, pull a trigger, and emit sounds that vaguely resemble the English language can be stuffed into a government-issued costume and exercise “authority” on behalf of the State of Arkansas.

Consider this: In order to become a licensed practicing cosmetologist in the State of Arkansas, an applicant must pass a state board examination and complete 2,000 hours of specialized training. After logging 600 hours an applicant can qualify to work as a manicurist or instructor.

The same state government that exercises such rigorous oversight of people who cut hair or paint nails in the private sector, it imposes no training or licensing standards on police officers. Practically anybody who asks for a job as a police officer in Arkansas can get a stinkin’ badge; it’s the qualifications that are unnecessary.

"The second night I ever put on a badge and gun I was riding in my own car," recalled Crittenden County Chief Deputy Tommy Martin. At the time, Martin was 21 years old and hadn't spent so much as a minute inside a police academy classroom.

"According to Arkansas state law, officers do not have to be certified for up to a year after they're hired," reported the Memphis Fox News affiliate in February 2010 – just a few weeks after Officer Brackney murdered James Ahern. "The Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Training says they can get an 8 month extension on top of that. So for almost 2 years, an officer can patrol the streets, by his or herself, and enforce the law without having any kind of training."

And, as we learned last April, that same Commission is eager to reinstate the certification of police officers who have served time behind bars for acts of criminal homicide.
Arkansas is riddled with tiny towns afflicted with police who are not merely corrupt, but demented. 

In late 2009, Police Chief Greg Martin of Turrell, Arkansas (population roughly 900 people) was charged with aggravated assault after he broke into the home of City Council member Floyd Holmes and threatened the Councilman and his wife with a gun.
A similar confrontation a few months earlier in nearby Jericho actually resulted in an attempted homicide. 

Until about 1990, the flyspeck town of Jericho (population circa 200 people) was blessedly devoid of police. This changed when the town received a grant to create its own police force – and the community has been suffering ever since.

Over the past two decades, Jericho acquired a richly deserved reputation as one of the most notorious speed traps in the South. But its police department doesn’t just prey on unsuspecting visitors with out-of-state license plates: Persistent harassment by the police and a rising tide of official corruption drove many locals to leave the town.

A few years ago, Fire Chief Don Payne challenged a dubious speeding ticket in court. Later that day, he was hit with a second spurious citation as a transparent act of retaliation for challenging the first one. When he protested the second citation, Payne was mobbed in court by seven officers and then shot. This atrocity did have one salutary result: The police department was temporarily disbanded, and all outstanding citations were dismissed, while investigators tried to determine what had happened to the funds that had been mulcted from speed trap victims

Stovall (left) swearing in "reservists."

The town of Paragould has a population of 25,000, which makes it a major metropolis by Arkansas standards. This might explain the grandiose ambitions of Todd Stovall, the J.W. Pepper-grade living caricature who presides over the town’s police department. 

Last January, Stovall, who appears to be building his own little private army, announced that he would be deploying SWAT operators armed with AR-15s to harass people on the streets. 

"The fear is what's given us the reason to do this,” insisted Stovall as he announced that the city would be placed under martial law for the supposed purpose of deterring crime. “Once I have stats and people are saying they're scared, we can do this. It allows us to do what we're fixing to do."

There is no evidence that people in Paragould are in fear of anyone other than the bullet-headed dimwit who heads their police force, and the costumed adolescents under his command. The “stats” referred to by Stovall certainly don’t justify the perception that the town is under siege. While Paragould historically has a high burglary rate, its violent crime rate is substantially below the national average: In 2010, the last year for which stats are available, there wasn’t a single murder in the town. 

Despite these facts, Stovall insists that a “crisis” exists that justifies the suspension of constitutional rules and the imposition of a city-wide curfew.

“I’ve got statistical reasons that say I’ve got a lot of crime right now, which gives me probable cause to ask what you’re doing out,” grunted Stovall at a town meeting at the West View Baptist Church. He admits that he didn’t consult an attorney before reaching that conclusion, and that “I don’t even know that there’s ever been a difference” between what he’s proposing and undisguised martial law. To those who might complain about being harassed by Stovall’s minions, the chief offers an unqualified promise: “If you’re out walking, we’re going to stop you, ask why you’re out walking, check for your ID….We have a zero-tolerance. We are prepared to throw your hind-end in jail, OK? We are not going to take a lot of flack.” 

“We’re going to do it to everybody,” Stovall explained, anticipating objections. “Criminals don’t like being talked to.”

The same is true of citizens, of course. But like most members of his paramilitary tribe, Stovall divides the world between the Mundane population -- which is to be intimidated into submission – and enlightened agents of State “authority” such as himself and the murderer who is the newly appointed police chief of Sulphur Springs. 

Dum spiro, pugno!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Resistance is Dangerous; Submission is Frequently Fatal

Resisting arrest is not a crime. It is a common-law right, the exercise of which is treated as if it were a crime. 

The act of resistance was transmuted into a criminal offense chiefly through judicial activism, rather than legislation. Courts that seek to criminalize resistance have generally made the pragmatic argument that resistance is more dangerous than submission. We’ve long since reached the point where the reverse is often the case. 

Until 1942, when the Interstate Commission on Crime published the Uniform Arrest Act, every state recognized and protected the right to resist. Under the still-controlling U.S. Supreme Court precedent, John Bad Elk vs. US, a citizen faced with the prospect of unlawful arrest – that is, an armed abduction – has a legally protected right to use any appropriate means, including lethal force, to defend himself.

The Bad Elk ruling came in 1900. Thirteen years later, the New Mexico State Supreme Court, in Territory v. Lynch, tried out a line of sophistry that would become part of the standard refrain in judicial rulings six decades later:

 “The law … calls upon the citizen to exercise patience, if illegally arrested, because he knows he will be brought before a magistrate, and will, if improperly arrested, suffer only a temporary deprivation of his liberty.”

In other words: If a cop seeks to abduct you without legal justification, you should submit in the serene confidence that your deprivation of liberty will be temporary and trivial. I have referred to this as the "Rapist Doctrine," since rapists and police officers are the only assailants whose victims are encouraged to submit.

One hundred years after the New Mexico State Supreme Court published that ruling, the case of New Mexico resident Stephen Slevin demonstrates that this assurance is a cynical lie.

In 2005, Slevin – who was battling depression and driving a car lent to him by a friend -- was stopped for driving under the influence. He was put into a special cell reserved for people suspected of being suicidal. After three days, he was transferred to solitary confinement --- where he remained for two years.

Although some may regard the traffic stop to be considered justified, and the initial arrest to be defensible, what happened to Slevin offers a stark and compelling demonstration of what can happen to anyone who finds himself immured in one of the Regime’s penal facilities. What was done to him is indistinguishable from the kind of criminal abuse associated in the public mind with prison facilities in Cuba and North Korea. More importantly, it is entirely typical of what happens in jails and prisons here in the putative Land of the Free. 

Prolonged solitary confinement is a form of torture. In Slevin’s case, isolation was compounded with aggressive neglect as he literally rotted in his cell. 

Despite repeated pleas for medical attention, Slevin developed skin fungus and bedsores. Deprived of dental care, Slevin was eventually forced to extract a tooth by himself. His toenails grew so long that they curled under his feet, his hair and beard grew to be long and unkempt, and he lost fifty pounds. 

As his body decayed, Slevin’s mind degenerated. Already depressed at the time of his imprisonment, Slevin fell prey to hallucinations. 

“I have not slept in days,”Slevin wrote to a nurse a couple of weeks into his solitary confinement. “I’m in a deep depression.” He also mentioned a lack of appetite, and that he was being afflicted with “weird and bizarre” dreams.

“I’m afraid to close my eyes,” he wrote in a plaintive letter to the jail’s “nurse practitioner,” an official with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and no medical credentials or experience. The “nurse” responded by prescribing a dose of sedatives

The habeas corpus guarantee requires that anyone arrested by the police be quickly brought before a judge and either formally charged or released. Slevin, who was sent to solitary after failing to post $40,000 in bail, was never given a judicial hearing. If it weren’t for the intervention of his sister, who became concerned after Slevin stopped replying to her letters, Slevin would have died in jail without ever being charged with a crime. 

Slevin at his booking (l), and following two years in solitary.
Once he was released, Slevin filed a lawsuit against Dona Ana County. After a five-year legal struggle, Slevin was awarded $22 million by a federal court– one million dollars for every month he had been unlawfully incarcerated. 

The county, which refused to discipline anybody responsible for Slevin’s imprisonment and torture, and refuses to answer questions about the crime committed against that man, protested that the civil judgment was excessive, and eventually agreed to  a $15.5 million tax-funded civil settlement. This may still seem like an extravagant amount until it’s understood that the 59-year-old victim suffers from terminal lung cancer. 

“The law cannot restore an arm, an eye, or a life; it can and does restore freedom,” wrote Ralph D. Smith of the University of New Mexico School of Law in a 1967 law school journal essay. His point was that “self-help” by citizens confronted with the prospect of unlawful arrest is impermissible, because they are dealing with people – that is, police officers – who have legal sanction to kill them if they resist.

“Life and liberty, though equally precious, cannot be viewed on the same plane where self-help is concerned,” Smith continues. “Liberty can be secured by a resort to law, life cannot.” A good case can be made for the proposition that Slevin’s illegal incarceration was terminal. Furthermore, unjust deprivation of liberty for any length of time is a grave and ineffaceable injury. 

“If one is unlawfully arrested today, his period of confinement is likely to be brief,” wrote Smith, offering a glib assurance of the kind that comes easily to those who are paid well to defend the indefensible. “In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries” – that is, the period in which British courts handed down rulings explicitly recognizing the common law right to resist arrest – “bail was usually unattainable. Today, it is freely granted for most offenses. 

Requirements of a prompt hearing and arraignment before a magistrate also serve to protect today’s citizen from a lengthy unjustified detention.”

None of that was true in the case of Stephen Slevin, who suffered the theft of two years that were stolen from a life that was further abbreviated by the unpunished abuse of those who illegally imprisoned him.

During the less-enlightened times in which courts recognized that citizens had the right to avoid illegal arrest and detention, Smith continues, an improperly detained individual could be confined for months, and then “re-incarcerated until he had paid certain fees demanded by the jailer, the clerk of the assize, clerks of the peace, and the like.” What he describes is exactly the same arrangement that prevails today in a probation and parole system that encourages probation and parole officers to find excuses to “violate” their charges as often as possible in order to recycle them through the mechanism.

“Seventeenth and eighteenth century prison conditions might well induce resistance to arrest, if only to keep out of jail,” observes Smith. The same was true not only in the case of Stephen Slevin, but also that of California resident Daniel Chong, who was held, handcuffed, in isolation and darkness, for five days without being charged with a crime in April of last year

Chong was deprived of food, water, and bathroom facilities. When he was finally released, Chong – who had begun to suffer from hallucinations -- asked his captors to kill him. He was hospitalized with severe dehydration and renal failure. The officials responsible for this crime have never been punished, nor have they so much as apologized to Chong.
Nick Christie, prior to police "help"....
The late Nick Christie likewise had every reason to put up resistance when he was taken into “protective” custody by Lee County, Florida sheriff’s deputies in 2009. Christie, a resident of Cleveland, had gone to visit a brother in Florida. His wife was concerned that the 62-year-old man, who had been diagnosed with psychological problems, had left his medications behind. She made the familiar and reliably fatal mistake of calling the police for “help.”

Christie, who was detained on a spurious “trespassing” change, was shackled for nearly two full days in a restraint chair. His captors hooded the victim and repeatedly attacked him with military-grade pepper spray. Christie begged for the jailers to remove the “spit mask” from his face, complaining that he couldn’t breathe. When medical personnel were finally permitted to see Christie, they were overwhelmed by the pepper spray. When they attempted to treat him, the corrosive chemical residue was so potent it ate through their latex medical gloves. 

This innocent man, who suffered from respiratory and heart disease, was tortured to death. His death was ruled a homicide. The State Attorney’s office refused to indict the officials who kidnapped and fatally tortured Christie, insisting that there was no evidence of “criminal wrongdoing.” (That prosecutor, Assistant State Attorney Dean R. Plattner, had a long history of indifference regarding criminal violence by police officers.) 

...and Christie after police "helped" him.
Writing more than four decades ago, as efforts to repudiate the right to resist arrest were gaining momentum, Arthur Smith insisted: “Because of the evolution in criminal procedures, jail conditions, and the increased danger from resistance, an individual is less likely to be provoked at what he considers an unlawful arrest in 1967 than he would have been in 1767.” 

By 2013, it should be obvious to all honest and observant people that the only material difference between the medieval system Smith described and the one that confronts us now is the fact that British subjects had a legally recognized right to resist unlawful arrest. 

Resistance may be dangerous, but submission is frequently fatal. 


Dum spiro, pugno!

Friday, March 15, 2013

"Ominous Threats" and Murderous Zeal

(A  shorter version of this essay was originally published at
“There are, in increasingly frightening numbers, cells of angry men in the United States preparing for combat," warns an unusually strident house editorial by the Los Angeles Times. "They are usually heavily armed, blinded by an intractable hatred, often motivated by religious zeal.”

That description was not applied to the masked, armor-clad Berserkers who kick down doors in the early morning or late at night and terrorize families over non-violent "offenses." Nor was it offered in reference to the militants who have purchased more than 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition -- much of it hollow-point rounds unsuitable for military use -- while distributing armored vehicles and other military hardware to their adherents in practically every city nation-wide. The Times didn't direct that rhetorical salvo at the people who are openly discussing plans to fill America's skies with robot planes that can -- and will -- be used as weapons platforms.

The Times editorial collective focused its indignation upon a much safer target -- namely,  “white, right-wing Americans, all with an obsessive attachment to guns, who may represent a greater danger to the lives of American civilians than international terrorists.” 

This steroid-enhanced militant doesn't bother the SPLC.
 The statist screed makes passing reference to what it calls “the massacre of a bizarre sect by federal agents in Waco, Texas,” twenty years ago – without passing moral judgment on the “massacre” in question. 

Slaughtering religious eccentrics is a venial offense compared to the grave heresy committed by those who speak ill of the Holy State, since their "blather" -- not the murderous actions of those who impudently presume to rule us, mind you -- "tends to get under the skin of the Timothy McVeighs of the world."

Once again: Immolating harmless people in a church is a perfectly proper thing, assuming that this act of mass murder is carried out by the consecrated hands of the State's enforcement caste, but referring to it as mass murder is the sort of thing only an incipient terrorist would do.

In recent days, we've heard that the Obama Regime -- which is running out of plausible foreign enemies -- is seeking to broaden the scope of the "war on terror" to include "offshoot" groups that are connected only by rumor to al-Qaeda (which was always more of a brand name than an actual organization). Terror Warriors need not fret; ere long we'll harvest the nettles that have been so plentifully sown by the Regime's implacable aggression abroad. In the meantime, however, the Times suggests that the "war on terror" should re-direct its focus inward.
These "angry men" armed for combat are cool with the SPLC.

Citing the most recent missive from the self-appointed Stasi at the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Times claims that there are 1,360 proto-terrorist groups -- sneeringly denounced as "patriots," "constitutionalists," and "sovereign citizens" -- scattered throughout the Soyuz. "These groups should be closely monitored, with resources adequate to the task, even if it means shifting some homeland security money from the hunt for foreign terrorists," concludes the paper.

Reconfiguring the "war on terror" from an imperialist venture into a domestic purge was the central idea of a letter sent by the SPLC to the Department of Homeland Security.

 “On October 25, 1994, six months before the Oklahoma City bombing, we wrote Attorney General Janet Reno about the growing threat of domestic terrorism,” wrote SPLC President Richard Cohen to Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. “Today, we write to express similar concerns. In the last four years, we have seen a tremendous increase in the number of conspiracy-minded, antigovernment groups as well as in the number of domestic terrorist plots. As in the period before the Oklahoma City bombing, we now also are seeing ominous threats from those who believe that the government is poised to take their guns.” 

Mr. Holder recently claimed that it is illegal for Congress to forbid the President to order summary executions. Thus it's remarkable that Cohen would discern "ominous threats" in the rhetorical bluster of an inchoate movement, but nothing objectionable about the fact that the Obama administration routinely carries out extra-judicial killings abroad -- and will not rule out the possibility of doing so here at home, as well. 

"Nothing to see here!" insists the SPLC.
Where the depiction of "threats" is concerned, the SPLC is notorious for rendering models of T-Rex-scale monsters from small and undistinguished bone fragments -- witness the fact that one of the "militant" groups listed in its most recent index of domestic enemies is an anti-war knitting circle led by an ailing senior citizen.  

“The idea of fighting the federal government with an AR-15 … I know that is an idea a lot of people have – if they ever look, as I have, at what the federal defense budget is, I think they would disabuse themselves of that notion right away.”

Allusively, but unmistakably, Rep. Slaughter was referring to the prospect of making war against the people of the united States -- which, as it happens, meets the specific constitutional definition of "treason." Only those who have lost interest in living, or who have acquired an interest in auto-erotic asphyxiation, would hold their breath awaiting SPLC's condemnation of the vulgar threat that emerged from the tax-devouring gullet of the appropriately named Rep. Slaughter. 

Echoing the central theme of Cohen's letter to the Feds, SPLC spokesman Mark Potok, “We are in a scary moment. It is very much reminiscent, at least to me, of the months leading up to the Oklahoma City Bombing.” This is indeed quite ominous -- not because the SPLC has correctly gauged the public mood, mind you, but because the group was deeply involved in the Fed's PATCON false flag operation that precipitated the OKC bombing. The FBI spent the last decade running COINTELPRO-style provocation operations against American Muslims. There's every reason to suspect that they're busy seeding informants and provocateurs in every cohesive group of right-wing dissidents they can find.

The SPLC-derived Los Angeles Times editorial -- which could be digested into the phrase, "The conspiracy theorists are plotting against us!" -- brings to mind an incident in the early 1980s in which East German officials arrested a group of human rights activists for "defaming" the state by claiming that it suppressed freedom of speech. As Tony Cooper, an instructor in terrorism negotiation at the University of Texas-Dallas, pointed out in 1995, the Regime in Washington is perfectly capable of such totalitarian behavior.

"I see the formation of a curious crusading mentality among certain law enforcement agencies to stamp out what they see as a threat to government generally," Cooper told the Washington Post in 1995. "It's an exaggerated concern that they are facing a nationwide conspiracy and that somehow this will get out of control unless it is stamped out at a very early stage."

Never forget: A "conspiracy theorist" is someone who notices things without official permission -- and a "terrorist" is anybody who challenges the government's monopoly on violence.

A quick note...

I want to thank everyone who has donated to Pro Libertate since my last post. Your help is still very much needed -- and even more appreciated. Once again, thank you so much!

Look for another story in this space later today (March 15) or perhaps early tomorrow.

Dum spiro, pugno!