The Raping of America: Mile Markers on the Road
By John W. Whitehead
“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the
oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”—Martin
Luther King Jr.
August 25, 2015 "Information
Clearing House" -
ill will blowing across the country. The
economy is tanking. The people are
directionless, and politics provides
no answer. And like former regimes, the militarized police have
stepped up to provide a façade of law and order manifested by an
overt violence against the citizenry.
Despite the revelations of the past several years,
nothing has changed to push back against the American police state.
Our freedoms—especially the Fourth Amendment—continue to be choked
out by a prevailing view among government bureaucrats that they have
the right to search, seize, strip, scan, spy on, probe, pat down,
taser, and arrest any individual at any time and
for the slightest provocation.
Despite the recent outrage and protests,
nothing has changed to restore us to our rightful role as having
dominion over our bodies, our lives and our property,
especially when it comes to interactions with the government.
Forced cavity searches, forced colonoscopies,
forced blood draws, forced breath-alcohol tests, forced DNA
extractions, forced eye scans, forced inclusion in biometric
databases—these are just a few ways in which Americans continue to
be reminded that we have no control over what happens to our bodies
during an encounter with government officials. Thus far, the courts
have done little to preserve our Fourth Amendment rights, let alone
what shreds of bodily integrity remain to us.
Indeed, on a
daily basis, Americans are being forced to relinquish the most
intimate details of who we are—our
biological makeup, our genetic blueprints, and our biometrics
(facial characteristics and structure, fingerprints, iris scans,
etc.)—in order to clear the nearly insurmountable hurdle that
increasingly defines life in the United States.
In other words, we are all guilty until proven
Worst of all, it seems as if nothing will change
as long as the American people remain distracted by politics,
divided by their own prejudices, and brainwashed into believing that
the Constitution still reigns supreme as the law of the land, when
in fact, we have almost completed the shift into fascism.
In other words, despite our occasional bursts of
outrage over abusive police practices, sporadic calls for government
reform, and periodic bouts of awareness that all is not what it
seems, the police state continues to march steadily onward.
Such is life in
America today that individuals are being threatened with arrest and
carted off to jail for the least hint of noncompliance,
homes are being raided by police under the slightest pretext, and
roadside police stops have devolved into government-sanctioned
exercises in humiliation and degradation with a complete disregard
for privacy and human dignity.
Consider, for example, what happened to Charnesia
Corley after allegedly being pulled over by Texas police for
“rolling” through a stop sign. Claiming they smelled marijuana,
police handcuffed Corley, placed her in the back of the police
cruiser, and then searched her car for almost an hour. They
found nothing in the car.
As the Houston Chronicle
Returning to his car where Corley was held,
the deputy again said he smelled marijuana and called in a
female deputy to conduct a cavity search. When the female deputy
arrived, she told Corley to pull her pants down, but Corley
protested because she was cuffed and had no underwear on. The
deputy ordered Corley to bend over, pulled down her pants and
began to search her. Then…Corley stood up and protested, so the
deputy threw her to the ground and restrained her while another
female was called in to assist. When backup arrived, each deputy
held one of Corley’s legs apart to conduct the probe.
As shocking and disturbing as it seems, Corley’s
roadside cavity search is becoming par for the course in an age in
which police are taught to have no respect for the citizenry’s
38-year-old Angel Dobbs and her 24-year-old niece, Ashley, were
pulled over by a Texas state trooper on July 13, 2012, allegedly for
flicking cigarette butts out of the car window. Insisting that he
smelled marijuana, he proceeded to interrogate them and search the
car. Despite the fact that both women denied smoking or possessing
any marijuana, the police officer then called in a female trooper,
who carried out a roadside cavity search,
sticking her fingers into the older woman’s anus and vagina,
then performing the same procedure on the younger woman, wearing the
same pair of gloves. No marijuana was found.
David Eckert was
forced to undergo
an anal cavity search, three enemas, and a colonoscopy after
allegedly failing to yield to a stop sign at a Wal-Mart parking lot.
Cops justified the searches on the grounds that they suspected
Eckert was carrying drugs because his “posture [was] erect” and “he
kept his legs together.” No drugs were found.
Leila Tarantino was
subjected to two roadside strip searches in plain view of passing
traffic during a routine traffic stop, while her two children—ages 1
and 4—waited inside her car. During the second strip search,
presumably in an effort to ferret out drugs, a
female officer “forcibly removed” a tampon from Tarantino.
Nothing illegal was found. Nevertheless, such searches have been
sanctioned by the courts, especially if accompanied by a search
warrant (which is easily procured), as justified in the government’s
pursuit of drugs and weapons.
Milwaukee police officers were charged with carrying out rectal
searches of suspects on the street and in police district stations
over the course of several years. One of the officers was accused of
conducting searches of men’s anal and scrotal areas, often
inserting his fingers into their rectums and leaving some of his
victims with bleeding rectums. Halfway across the country, the city
of Oakland, California, agreed to pay $4.6 million to
39 men who had their pants pulled down by police on
city streets between 2002 and 2009.
It’s gotten so bad that you don’t even have to be
suspected of possessing drugs to be subjected to a strip search.
In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in
Florence v. Burlison, any person who is arrested and
processed at a jail house, regardless of the severity of his or her
offense (i.e., they can be guilty of nothing more than a minor
traffic offense), can be subjected to a strip search by police or
jail officials without reasonable suspicion that the arrestee is
carrying a weapon or contraband.
Examples of minor
infractions which have resulted in strip searches include:
individuals arrested for driving with a noisy muffler, driving with
an inoperable headlight, failing to use a turn signal, riding a
bicycle without an audible bell, making an improper left turn,
engaging in an antiwar demonstration (the individual searched was a
nun, a Sister of Divine Providence for 50 years). Police have also
carried out strip searches for passing a bad check, dog leash
violations, filing a false police report, failing to produce a
driver’s license after making an illegal left turn, having
outstanding parking tickets, and public intoxication. A failure to
pay child support can also result in a strip search.
It must be
remembered that the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was
intended to prevent government agents from searching an individual’s
person or property without a warrant and probable cause (evidence
that some kind of criminal activity was afoot). While the literal
purpose of the amendment is to protect our property and our bodies
from unwarranted government intrusion, the moral intention behind it
is to protect our human dignity.
Unfortunately, the indignities being heaped upon
us by the architects and agents of the American police state—whether
or not we’ve done anything wrong—don’t end with roadside strip
searches. They’re just a foretaste of what is to come.
As I make clear in my book
Battlefield America: The War on the American People,
the government doesn’t need to strip you naked by the side of the
road in order to render you helpless. It has other methods, less
subtle perhaps but equally humiliating, devastating and
mind-altering, of stripping you of your independence, robbing you of
your dignity, and undermining your rights.
With every court ruling that allows the government
to operate above the rule of law, every piece of legislation that
limits our freedoms, and every act of government wrongdoing that
goes unpunished, we’re slowly being conditioned to a society in
which we have little real control over our lives. As Rod Serling,
creator of the Twilight Zone and an insightful commentator
on human nature, once observed, “We’re developing a new citizenry.
One that will be very selective about cereals and automobiles, but
won’t be able to think.”
Indeed, not only
are we developing a new citizenry incapable of thinking for
themselves, we’re also instilling in them a complete and utter
reliance on the government and its corporate partners to do
everything for them—tell them what to eat, what to wear, how to
think, what to believe, how long to sleep, who to vote for, whom to
associate with, and on and on.
In this way, we have created a welfare state, a
nanny state, a police state, a surveillance state, an electronic
concentration camp—call it what you will, the meaning is the same:
in our quest for less personal responsibility, a greater sense of
security, and no burdensome obligations to each other or to future
generations, we have created a society in which we have no true
Government surveillance, police abuse, SWAT team
raids, economic instability, asset forfeiture schemes, pork barrel
legislation, militarized police, drones, endless wars, private
prisons, involuntary detentions, biometrics databases, free speech
zones, etc.: these are mile markers on the road to a fascist state
where citizens are treated like cattle, to be branded and eventually
led to the slaughterhouse.
If there is any hope to be found it will be found in
local, grassroots activism. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr.,
it’s time for “militant nonviolent resistance.”
First, however, Americans must break free of the
apathy-inducing turpor of politics, entertainment spectacles and
manufactured news. Only once we are free of the chains that bind
us—or to be more exact, the chains that “blind” us—can we become
actively aware of the injustices taking place around us and demand
freedom of our oppressors.
John W. Whitehead is an attorney and author who
has written, debated and practiced widely in the area of
constitutional law and human rights. Whitehead's concern for the
persecuted and oppressed led him, in 1982, to establish The
Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit civil liberties and human rights
organization whose international headquarters are located in
Charlottesville, Virginia. Whitehead serves as the Institute’s
president and spokesperson, in addition to writing a weekly
commentary that is posted on The Rutherford Institute’s website (
Copyright 2015 © The Rutherford Institute
Copyright 2015 © The Rutherford Institute