Your rights as a citizen

posted in: Political Science | 0

Just a brief note.

I read about this story linked off of a Slashdot article. It happened yesterday, Sept 2nd, in Cleveland, Ohio. Here’s the full story.

Basically, what happened is this:

  1. Mike goes into a Circuit city to buy a couple items, pays, and heads towards the exit.
  2. At the exit of the Circuit City, an attendant says “Sir, may I please look into your bag and see your receipt?”
  3. Mike replies “No, thank you,” and continues walking.
  4. Some hullabaloo ensues involving the manager, the entrance-guy, and Mike. The entrance-attendant had said he is allowed to look at the bag by law but was unable to cite the specific law that allowed him to violate Mike’s 6th amendment rights.
  5. Unable to leave, Mike gets out of the back passenger seat (this becomes important in a minute) and calls 911. An officer arrives and gets the low-down on what happens.
  6. The officer requests to look inside the bag and Mike complies.
  7. Then the officer asks to see Mike’s license, and Mike declines, citing the Ohio law that says he is only required to provide his name [and his birthdate and address, if requested]. Mike gives his name, but again declines to show his license.
  8. Mike is arrested by the officer, and eventually charged with “Obstruction of Justice”

A few things of note here, and you should really read the full article. The officer was asking to see his license, but Mike was clearly not driving. Consider if Mike had never learned how to drive, what would have happened then? Mike co-operated with the law completely, so how was he obstructing justice? He wasn’t required to provide any information beyond his name, address and birthdate, and on top of that, he was not read his Miranda rights.

Personally, I sent him $10 towards his legal fund — mostly as a thank-you for reminding us of all of our rights as free men and women. What happened here is exactly what will happen if / when (and it’s looking more and more like “when” than “if”) a National ID system is adopted. Historically, driver’s licenses were only intended to show that a person is allowed to operate a motor vehicle. And social-security numbers were intended, when the program was created, to be given when a person is of legal age to work (so they can be taxed into the SS program). Nowadays, newborn babies (such as my son) are given SSN’s when they’re born!

Pass the word around about this. Tell as many people as possible. If you can, give him a few bucks towards his legal fund.