December 26, 2015

Constitutionalism and Collegiate Town Rogues

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bob Patterson @ 3:17 pm




Constitutionalism and Collegiate Town Rogues

Having been a seminal part of the development of “CopWatch” before it was CopWatch, I have an abiding interest in the patrols of the police in Berkeley.  The police come in several jurisdictional flavors which keep the concept of venue fluid and confusing. Venue has to do with the jurisdiction you sue in and in Berkeley can be used to dismiss cases with prejudice and no chance to refile in the proper “place”.

CopWatch was initially just a Doctor of Criminology and a newly minted lawyer wandering Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley around People’s Park with a professional curiosity as to “just what the hell were the cops doing” and stopped to ensure constitutional behavior.

I have heard the cute ploy of a federal takeover of local investigations in order to stall and run the statute of limitations out and thus allow the alleged miscreants to fly free (just happened recently in San Francisco).  Works for cops particularly well when they need to find a way to prevent prosecution. Better than the “I was afraid” defense.

In Berkeley, the home of the “Free Speech Movement” things are a little out of resonance. Let me explain.

There has been an homeless protest at the Berkeley Post Office that  morphed from OccupySF and was beginning another encampment in front of the Berkeley City Hall. All the big names got involved but the two young people arrested found that the lawyers don’t work for free and shucks, whaddya want anyway.

They had to plea (to what?) and take a stay away order from City Hall (where the City Council meets) and the government offices of the civic center (except to pay fines?)

I can’t believe the big names do not see the constitutional issues that include being barred from objecting to the police behavior, laws or attempting to give suggestions at a city council meeting that, instead, could lead to jail time. So much for freedom of assembly let alone free speech.

Apparently this is not the Berkeley of the 60’s or even the 80’s.

Mike Zint said there were over sixty homeless being housed in tents and protected at the city hall protest and that represented about 7% of the counted homeless.  “Seven percent and how many has the city helped?”

Now I get to do some more “for free” work as the housies and officies can’t figure how to help or take the time to research the law.

Someone with a bar license (who is not homeless)  could represent (spend some money and show up in court) on behalf of the constitution. Is it unconstitutional to have  stay away orders from civic government and/or deferred prosecution to keep informal probation on a person?

Anyone see a violation of Fourth Amendment rights of shelter and  the police just entering (unzipping a tent) without a warrant to arrest for a misdemeanor with no special circumstances?  The tent city wasn’t going anywhere unless the police broke the law.

So the police are the hired hands of the bunkhouse boss. The “elected” representatives have no idea of civil rights for the homeless and allow the persecutors and oppressors during the “holiest time of the year” .

“The night before Christmas and all through the city, not a toilet was open and that’s pretty shitty.” Mike Z.

If the people will not exercise their rights they may have justifiably lost them but if the people exercise their rights and find the avenues of peaceful protest blocked and barred what can you eventually expect?

In the town where we fought for free speech, free teach ins, free peace and free parks are we ready to pave over People’s Park and move the poor out to the dumpsites where they cannot be seen?

What madness to live the past and be blind to the present hypocrisy of freedom without free speech and the sanctity of a home depends upon a corporate definition of a house. Or even a “person”.

This is my Holiday column. Play the fervor of sixties again, Sam.  Play it for me.

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