A Blog devoted to progressive politics, environmental issues, LGBT issues, social justice, workers' rights, womens' rights, and, most importantly, Cats.

Monday, August 04, 2008

The Police State: Something YOU Can Do

Photo by Sarah L. Voisin, copyright Washington Post

Previous posts on the raid available here and here.

A rally was held yesterday for Mayor Cheye Calvo of Berwyn Heights, Maryland, to offer him and his wife support after a county sherriff's SWAT team kicked in their front door and killed their two black Labs in a stupid, irresponsible, incompetent, botched "drug raid."

One hundred people turned up, apparently. It's clear that the Mayor is popular with the citizenry. The tiny town boasts only 3,000 residents. Commentor Diane had this to say:
should put fear in all of us. Cheye has always supported ethics and justice in government, in its leaders and in his own personal life as well as his public life. Trinity Tomsic, his wife is exactly the same. I shudder to think of what worse could have happened if Trinity’s mother had taken this package in at the time of its arrival. Perhaps we would be reading about, not just two gentle innocent dogs being shot as they barked or ran from the heavily protected SWAT team carrying assault rifles, but a tiny older woman being shot as she ran away in fear. Any small investigation would have yielded enough information to make most people think twice about this family being considered “person’s of interest.” Recently, in the DC area, this receiving of a package of drugs by innocent people has happened, been documented, and should have been noted by these enforcers of the law. Where is justice? Where is due process? Why are the police of any kind given carte blanche (a knocking not necessary) warrant to enter a home with no known connection to drugs or crime? Don’t tell me how dangerous their job is if this is how they conduct it. They create unnecessary danger by their hapless planning and violent responses. Can you only imagine the feeling of personal violation had this been your home or pets? Would you, could you ever feel the same? No. Their lives are altered forever. As Cheye Calvo said, “these were our children.” Consider this. I believe killing those dogs was the violent act of intimidation and very purposeful. The message was clear as implied violence always is; Mr. Calvo, we can kill your dogs and we can kill you just as easily if you don’t comply. It was a cowardly act!! I see no bravery, courage, responsible forethought or accountability here. The county sheriff said of course, his men must have felt they were in danger to have killed the dogs. How merciful that Trinity was not home to witness this. How absurd that several men in protective gear armed with assault weapons are afraid of a fleeing terrified pet. If they fear a fleeing dog, they are definitely in the wrong business. Cheye has always planned a career in government and politics. I hope and pray he doesn’t shrink from this now. We obviously need more ethical people with courage to stop this madness. On the other hand, one can only imagine the pain, shock and sorrow in his heart that could lead him to turn his back on this violent madness. We who know and love this family, my family, are incredulous. It proves no one is safe from this kind of hapless violence. I will be at that rally in my heart!!!
We agree. This is nothing but intimidation. Brutal, violent, unconstitutional and therefore illegal, intimidation.

Commentor Susiefunk adds her two cents:
I hope the Mayor will sue the P.G.County Police and the Sheriff Department and have an individual suit against the deputy or deputies who shot the Labs for cruelty toward animals. The whole incident is a disgrace to P.G. County. I want to know if this same type of drug drop on a resident's porch has happened before(College Park) why was the idenity of the person who lived in the house taken into consideration? Or does this take too much effort on this law enforcement agency? To shoot a dog as it is running away is a real coward and bully!
Absolutely. One wonders why the police didn't bother to investigate more carefully. If there had been similar cases in the same area, shouldn't the police have known about it? Shouldn't they have used due diligence to uncover similar cases?

Commenter heckuvajob gives us the action item:
Sgt Mario Ellis can be reached at (240) 508-7638. I called to ask for the name of the shooter, and was told this guy is the department's spokesman. Several attempts to contact yielded only voicemail.
Give Sergeant Ellis' voicemail an earful, please. You might be speaking for a hundred others who are equally enraged but not able to contact the Sergeant for one reason or another. This is absolutely disgraceful. We've blogged about no-knock warrants before and how dangerous they are. And the police have yet to produce the warrant they claim to have based this illegal act on. Disgusting, disgraceful, and utterly shameful.

Our favourite penguin adds his two cents:
Wow, so they entered without a warrant too. How... fascist... of them.

Freedom(tm). For some definition of freedom that looks suspiciously like Soviet Russia or Nazi Germany. Sigh.

- Badtux the Free Penguin
(for some definition of "free" that doesn't look like the dictionary one at all).
Yup. Couldn't agree more. So, how does America look now in the eyes of those of her citizens who get their doors kicked in, their pets killed, or lose their own lives as Kathryn Johnston did? Does this look like the "land of the free and the home of the brave"? Does this look like the nation that was bequeathed by its founders to be a beacon of freedom? Badtux is right. It looks like Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia, a police state in which the police may violate any and all codes of decency, morality, humanity for any reason at any time without recourse for the citizenry.

And here's what really bunches our underroos. While this ridiculous sham of a police operation was going on, a certain Richard D. Davis and his companion Dena D. Riley, both of Missouri, are on trial for brutally torturing, raping, and murdering at least two women. Well, at least two whose repulsive deaths were videotaped, anyway. It so happens that Mr. Davis and Ms. Riley were questioned by the police, but not taken into custody at the time. Shortly after the questioning and before the police obtained a warrant for their arrest, the couple fled.

Mr. Davis, shortly before the torture-murders of the two known victims, had served an 18-year sentence for rape and sodomy. Yet, the police did not think they needed a "no-knock" warrant to apprehend him. A known criminal with an obvious proclivity for brutal crimes (it's not easy getting sentenced to 18 years for the crime of rape) gets a relatively polite questioning. And this from the police of the fine state of Missouri, who tased a teenager with a broken back nineteen fucking times for no reason that anyone can determine. But a law-abiding citizen like the Mayor of Berwyn Heights, with no known criminal record but rather a record of achievement and service to his community and his nation, gets his door kicked in, his pets shot before his eyes, and has the privilege of cleaning their bodies and blood off his floor afterwards and repairing his own front door. And the Prince George's County police have yet to show this warrant. So what's the deal, is Maryland trying to catch up with Missouri and Louisiana and Ohio in the "violation of human rights and civil rights" award department?

If you want to do something nice for Cheye Calvo and his wife, Trinity Tomsic, or for their poor dogs, send money to Chris Brittan-Powell, who organized the rally. Here's what he has to say:
Berwyn Heights police chief Patrick Murphy said he regretted that the sheriff's office and county police raided Calvo's home without Murphy's knowledge. Murphy has been vocal about his anger that his eight-person force was not informed of the raid in advance.

"I never imagined, when I set out to protect people from the crooks and the criminals, that I would have to protect them from my fellow police officers," Murphy told the crowd.

Brittan-Powell said that the rally's aim was not to condemn police but to show Calvo that residents were on his side and did not believe he deserved to have his home raided. Brittan-Powell said the group was taking donations to buy two trees to be planted at Calvo's home in memory of the dogs as well as to fund repairs to Calvo's front door.
Gads! The SWAT team, the county sherriff's department, and the county police department should have to pay for the repair of the door, plus a generous settlement for the emotional distress that resulted from their actions.

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