By John W.
the point where state actors can penetrate
rectums and vaginas, where judges can order
forced catheterizations, and where police
and medical personnel can perform scans,
enemas and colonoscopies without the
suspect’s consent. And these procedures
aren’t to nab kingpins or cartels, but
people who at worst are hiding an amount of
drugs that can fit into a body cavity. In
most of these cases, they were suspected
only of possession or ingestion. Many of
them were innocent... But these tactics
aren’t about getting drugs off the street...
These tactics are instead about degrading
and humiliating a class of people that
politicians and law enforcement have deemed
- Radley Balko,
The Washington Post
Daily, all across
America, individuals who dare to resist—or even
question—a police order are being subjected to
all sorts of government-sanctioned abuse ranging
from forced catheterization, forced blood draws,
roadside strip searches and cavity searches, and
other foul and debasing acts that degrade their
bodily integrity and leave them
Americans as young as 4 years old are being
held at gun point
for not being quiet, not being orderly and just
being childlike—i.e., not being compliant
Government social workers actually
subjected a 3-year-old boy to a forced
after he was unable to provide them with a urine
sample on demand (the boy still wasn’t potty
trained). The boy was held down,
screaming in pain,
while nurses forcibly inserted a tube into his
penis to drain his bladder—all of this done
because the boy’s mother’s boyfriend had failed
a urine analysis for drugs.
Americans as old as 95 are being beaten, shot
and killed for questioning an order,
hesitating in the face of a directive,
mistaking a policeman crashing through their
door for a criminal
breaking into their home—i.e., not being
Consider what happened to David Dao, the United
Airlines passenger who was accosted by three
police, forcibly wrenched from his seat across
the armrest, bloodying his face in the process,
and dragged down the aisle by the arms
merely for refusing to relinquish his paid seat
after the airline chose him randomly to be
bumped from the flight—after being checked in
and allowed to board—so that airline workers
could make a connecting flight.
Those with ADHD, autism, hearing impairments,
dementia or some other disability that can
hinder communication in the slightest way are in
even greater danger of having their actions
misconstrued by police. Police
shot a 73-year-old-man with dementia seven times
after he allegedly failed to respond to orders
to stop approaching and remove his hands from
his jacket. The man was unarmed and had been
holding a crucifix.
Clearly, it no longer matters where you live.
city or small town: it’s the same scenario being
played out over and over again in which
government agents, hyped up on their own
authority and the power of their uniform, ride
roughshod over the citizenry who—in the eyes of
the government—are viewed as having no rights.
freedoms—especially the Fourth
Amendment—continue to be torn asunder by the
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.
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
For instance, during a “routine” traffic stop
for allegedly “rolling” through a stop sign,
Charnesia Corley was thrown to the ground,
stripped of her clothes, and forced to spread
her legs while Texas police officers subjected
her to a
roadside cavity probe,
all because they claimed to have smelled
marijuana in her car.
Angel Dobbs and her 24-year-old niece, Ashley,
were pulled over by a Texas state trooper for
allegedly flicking cigarette butts out of the
car window. Insisting that he smelled marijuana,
the trooper 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
performing the same procedure on the younger
woman, wearing the same pair of gloves. No
marijuana was 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
Nothing illegal was found.
David Eckert was forced to undergo an
anal cavity search, three enemas, and a
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.
Meanwhile, four 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
Incidents like these—sanctioned by the courts
and conveniently overlooked by the
legislatures—teach Americans of every age and
skin color the painful lesson that there are no
limits to what the government can do in its
so-called “pursuit” of law and order.
is a war, then “we the people” are the enemy.
As Radley Balko notes in The Washington Post,
“When you’re at war, it’s important to
dehumanize your enemy. And there’s nothing more
dehumanizing than forcibly and painfully
invading someone’s body —
all the better if you can involve the sex organs.”
message being beaten, shot, tasered, probed and
slammed into our collective consciousness is
simply this: it doesn’t matter if you’re in the
right, it doesn’t matter if a cop is in the
wrong, it doesn’t matter if you’re being treated
with less than the respect you deserve or the
only thing that matters to the American police
state is that you comply, submit, respect
authority and generally obey without question
whatever a government official (anyone who wears
a government uniform, be it a police officer,
social worker, petty bureaucrat or zoning
official) tells you to do.
what happens when you allow the government to
call the shots: it becomes a bully.
history shows, this recipe for disaster works
every time: take police officers hyped up on
their own authority and the power of the badge,
throw in a few court rulings suggesting that
security takes precedence over individual
rights, set it against a backdrop of endless
wars and militarized law enforcement, and then
add to the mix a populace distracted by
entertainment, out of touch with the workings of
their government, and more inclined to let a few
sorry souls suffer injustice than to challenge
the status quo.
“It is not only under Nazi rule that
police excesses are inimical to freedom,”
warned former Supreme Court justice Felix
Frankfurter in a 1946 ruling in Davis v.
United States: “It is easy to make light of
insistence on scrupulous regard for the
safeguards of civil liberties when invoked on
behalf of the unworthy. It is too easy. History
bears testimony that by such disregard are the
rights of liberty extinguished, heedlessly at
first, then stealthily, and brazenly in the
other words, if it could happen in Nazi Germany,
it can just as easily happen here.
is happening here.
Unfortunately, we’ve been marching in lockstep
with the police state for so long that we’ve
forgotten how to march to the tune of our own
revolutionary drummer. In fact, we’ve even
forgotten the words to the tune.
learned the lessons of compliance too well.
long, “we the people” have allowed the
government to ride roughshod over the
Constitution, equating patriotism with blind
obedience to the government’s dictates, no
matter how unconstitutional or immoral those
actions might be.
historian Howard Zinn recognized:
problem is civil obedience. Our problem is
the numbers of people all over the world who
have obeyed the dictates of the leaders of
their government and have gone to war, and
millions have been killed because of this
obedience… Our problem is that people are
obedient all over the world, in the face of
poverty and starvation and stupidity, and
war and cruelty. Our problem is that people
are obedient while the jails are full of
petty thieves, and all the while the grand
thieves are running the country. That's our
problem… people are obedient, all these
can you do?
It’s simple but as I detail in my book
Battlefield America: The War on the American
the consequences may be deadly.
being so obedient. Stop being so compliant and
herdlike. Stop kowtowing to anyone and everyone
in uniform. Stop perpetuating the false notion
that those who work for the government—the
president, Congress, the courts, the military,
the police—are in any way superior to the rest
of the citizenry. Stop playing politics with
your principles. Stop making excuses for the
government’s growing list of human rights abuses
and crimes. Stop turning a blind eye to the
government’s corruption and wrongdoing and theft
and murder. Stop tolerating ineptitude and
incompetence by government workers. Stop
allowing the government to treat you like a
second-class citizen. Stop censoring what you
say and do for fear that you might be labeled an
extremist or worse, unpatriotic. Stop sitting
silently on the sidelines while the police state
kills, plunders and maims your fellow citizens.
being a slave.
anti-war activist Rosa Luxemburg concluded,
“Those who do not move, do not notice their
not realize it yet, but you are not free.
believe otherwise, it is only because you have
made no real attempt to exercise your freedoms.
attempted to exercise your freedoms before now
by questioning a police officer’s authority,
challenging an unjust tax or fine, protesting
the government’s endless wars, defending your
right to privacy against the intrusion of
surveillance cameras, or any other effort that
challenges the government’s power grabs and the
generally lopsided status quo, you would have
already learned the hard way that the police
state has no appetite for freedom and it does
not tolerate resistance.
called authoritarianism, a.k.a. totalitarianism,
As Glenn Greenwald
notes for the
Oppression is designed to compel obedience
and submission to authority. Those who
voluntarily put themselves in that state –
by believing that their institutions of
authority are just and good and should be
followed rather than subverted – render
oppression redundant, unnecessary. Of course
people who think and behave this way
encounter no oppression. That's their reward
for good, submissive behavior. They are left
alone by institutions of power because they
comport with the desired behavior of
complacency and obedience without further
compulsion. But the fact that good, obedient
citizens do not themselves perceive
oppression does not mean that oppression
does not exist.
ready to stand your ground or run for your life,
because the American police state is coming to
Constitutional attorney and author John W.
Whitehead is founder and president of The
His new book Battlefield
America: The War on the American People (SelectBooks,
2015) is available online at www.amazon.com.
Whitehead can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
views expressed in this article are solely those
of the author and do not necessarily reflect the
opinions of Information Clearing House.