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Suspicionless Checkpoint

While listening to the Free Talk Live podcast from May 16 I was reminded of the horrible story of what happened to pastor Steven Anderson just a little over a month ago.

On April 14, Mr. Anderson was driving home from San Diego to Phoenix and was stopped at a suspicionless Border Patrol checkpoint about 75 miles east of Yuma on Interstate 8. Note, this is a checkpoint inside the United States, within 100 miles of the US/Mexico border. He declined to answer their questions or let them search his vehicle, invoking his Fourth Amendment rights. They insisted he go to secondary screening, where they brought out a dog and claimed it had alerted them there were drugs or a human in the trunk. Anderson said the dog did nothing and requested they bring the dog out again to show him the alert, but they refused.

Anderson was detained for over an hour until the Department of Public Saftey officers arrived. He again explained that the dog had done nothing. The DPS officer asked Border Patrol to bring the dog out again, but they still refused. Based on the word of the Border Patrol officers, the DPS officer said Anderson was under arrest “for failure to obey me, right now”. They warned Anderson to cover his eyes because there would be broken glass. He covered his face with his hands and leaned forward, the officers broke both the driver and passenger side windows in and shot him with two tasers. He tried to keep covering his face with his hands, but could not even control his arms because of the tasers. An officer grabbed his head and shoved it into the driver's side door where the window had just been broken out, pushing glass into his head. He was pulled out of the car, thrown on the ground, his head held down with an officer's foot, and was shot with more tasers. He was not physically resisting or fighting back at all. Finally, they handcuffed him and took him into one of the trailers, where he could see in a mirror that his face was covered with blood. He had to get eleven stitches.

Unsurprisingly, when they searched his car they found nothing. The dogs either falsely alerted, or the officers just lied about the dog alerting.

This much I have summarized from a couple videos which I recommend you watch below. The second one is actually from the car right as they break the windows and tase him. You won't really see much, but be warned that you do hear his screams of pain from the tasers and might be disturbed.

Under Supreme Court decision U.S. v. Martinez-Fuerte, apparently these type of checkpoints are permitted within 100 miles of an international border, as long as they're aimed at catching illegal immigrants or smugglers. Technically, based on Census data, 190 million Americans live within this 100 mile zone of our borders and coastlines, meaning nearly two-thirds of the population could essentially be denied their Fourth Amendment rights rather arbitrarily, just by driving somewhere.

My opinion is that this was ridiculous, violent behavior exercised against someone who was not violent or threatening violence against anyone. Furthermore, it's an obvious violation of his Fourth Amendment right to be secure in his person and effects against unreasonable search and seizure, particularly lacking a search warrant. There's more reading below if you are interested. The last link is actually an opposition article, critical of Anderson and his family because they are quite “right wing.” For me, while I know I disagree with the Anderson family on some political and spiritual matters, that does not change that what happened here is reprehensible.

More reading

The camera is the new gun

Arizona DPS Delivers 'Service' With a Smile

Checkpoint Diego

Pastor Claims Abuse at Border Patrol Checkpoint on Interstate 8

Pastor Tased and “Beaten” at Checkpoint Plans to Sue; Admits He's Been Resisting at Checkpoints for Months

I knew something was wrong, but I had no idea...

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Suspicionless Checkpoint →

Responses

Jon the Canadian

Jon the Canadian

I watched part of the video and read some of the links. Looks like he was just in court today, per one of the articles and the court website. (The case number is J-1403-MS-200900009, but I didn't get the case number search to work, I searched by his name at Wellton Justice Court).

It will be interesting to see what happens. Most people critical of him think he's a jerk and needs to be punished, but we don't punish people for being jerks, whether he is or not isn't relevant.



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