OREGON COUNTY: TESTING GROUND FOR POLICE STATE POWER
July 11, 2005
The heavy boot of unbridled police power was felt by a select group of law abiding residents of Josephine County (JoCo) on June 3, 4, and 5 of 2005. These were indeed black days in the book of freedom. Totalitarian police power in the name of public safety was used to intimidate and harass local residents whose choice was to ride their motorcycles during these three days.
The following article's intent is to show the reader that some named and unnamed officials in government had ulterior motives and used subterfuge to make something appear other than what it in fact was. The consumer of media information never really knows what's happening. Those in government usually call this type of exposure of government actions, ludicrous, paranoid, etc. to hide their own complicity and or ignorance. But, the following information will show that a select group of citizens were targeted by the use of improper police power in a well orchestrated attack on civil liberties. A month later both county and state officials remain mute on this issue.
Keeping it safe
We are told this massive use of police force was assembled and used to insure residents safety because a motorcycle club called the Vagos and known as an outlaw club by police had come to town and was camping at a park along the Rogue River. The newly appointed Grants Pass Chief Joel Henner in explaining the use of massive police power said, "That weekend was about keeping it safe." If keeping it safe is really the reason, then why is the selling and use of illegal drugs such a problem in Josephine County? The sheriff's office has ignored reports of illegal drugs. Why does theft of private property in the thousands of dollars rate at the bottom of the investigation scale? Try to get a deputy sheriff to your home to take a stolen property report.
Police have done nothing in regards to major crime compared to the show of force they endorsed and used when the Vagos were in town. This force was used indiscriminately against the Vagos and our neighbors who rode during that weekend. When dealing with ordinary crime, the usual comment from police is we don't have the resources, no personnel are available, and we are under funded. But they certainly had the resources and funding to figuratively quarantine and harass a selected group of law abiding citizens in Josephine County along with the Vagos. This type of police power is unacceptable in Josephine County and Sheriff Dave Daniel was instrumental in the alleged violation of civil liberties during this public relations disaster. It was reported that Daniel was out of town during the time the Vagos motorcycle club was in Grants Pass. The Vagos have filed a lawsuit for the alleged harassment against them. Local courts are not apt to rule in their favor.
Did feds inform sheriff?
Was the Vagos appearance the real reason several federal agencies including the FBI, Department of Justice, (DOJ) Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, (BTAF) and DEA, along with police from the southern Oregon counties of Josephine, Klamath, Douglas, and Jackson, and the city of Grants Pass were unconstitutionally flaunting their police powers? Oregon State Police were also reported to have a heavy presence locally. There was even a helicopter available to be used during this weekend. Most people accept the newspaper reports on the reason for this large police response being the Vagos. This view doesn't hold up under careful analysis. On June 3, the Daily Courier carried a front page article with Sheriff Daniel saying he learned about this weekend's gathering (Vagos) about three weeks ago. The logistics of this assembly of police power from out of the area took time, and to put it all together would take more than three weeks. Do the listed southern Oregon counties have such a surplus of deputies and private funds that they can send them to Josephine County on short notice because Daniel asked them to, with 21 days or less to do this? What about the Feds who are notoriously slow in taking action? If this was all done in three weeks, it would be an amazing feat. This operation had to be in the pot longer than three weeks to smell like it does. Only the expenses add up, the logic doesn't.
The Neanderthal man
If the FBI and DEA had something on the Vagos, why did they let them cross state borders and come to Grants Pass? What did the FBI and area police think the Vagos were going to do when they got to Grants Pass? They certainly didn't tell the public anything specific such as blowing up the Caveman Statue in the north end of town. The caveman is a hunched over Neanderthal man perhaps 15 feet tall with a club, an icon denoting Grants Pass. Perhaps, at this time the Neanderthal man with the big club did represent the police mentality in the area. Some of the Vagos group did arrive in Grants Pass in motor homes with children. People traveling with families aren't out looking for trouble or want to be where it appears. Interestingly, there were no arrests of any of the Vagos during the time they were in Josephine County. The Vagos were plastered with citations along with local residents. The police say they were keeping the county safe. Of course we need to ask safe from what? So far, a month later, no one has told us.
Why were innocent citizens who are taxpaying county residents targeted as though they were law breakers? I talked to a fellow next to his motorcycle in the Wal-Mart parking lot recently, and he told me he was a retired telephone company accountant, and he was harassed by police because he rode a motorcycle. The police talked to him, having no reason to do so in the first place, and then left when there was nothing to arrest him for. Without probable cause police harassed numerous individuals during the three days the Vagos were here.
This was a chilling incursion into Constitutional rights. These were neighbors, honest taxpaying members of the community, and they won't forget what the police did to them in the so-called name of safety. Amendment IV to the Constitution states, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects …" To be secure in your person means cops don't follow you into a restaurant, as was done, and stand by your table as a means of intimidation and then walk away.
These are bad cops that are willing do this and smirk at the Constitution.
motorcycle riders are hopping mad judging by the letters to the editor
and talking to individuals. This is why a couple hundred riders and
The Grants Pass Daily Courier reports that local police put in 700 hours of overtime, costing an estimated $36.00 an hour or about $25,000. This doesn't include the other police agencies, FBI, BATF etc. which supplied their own funds or most likely had their expenses covered by a federal grant. An unreasonable amount of local money was spent for no arrests; however, over 500 tickets were issued by police agencies.
The FBI and local police
This operation took coordination, timing, money, resources, and a reason to happen. I believe that it can be shown that the Vagos were not that reason. Since the FBI was involved in this assault on individual liberties, and they seem to have their fingerprints all over it, one can reasonably conclude this was a long term plan to use local, state and federal agencies to carry out this show of force. This was a test, and the Vagos were a distraction.
The feds wanted to assemble a large police presence in a conservative semi-rural community to test the ability of the local and outside the area police to work together, and they wanted to obtain the reaction of local citizens to harassment and an unreasonable police presence. I would certainly be disappointed if taxpayer dollars aren't now hard at work creating charts, graphs, and reports that are accumulating at a prodigious rate and are being carefully analyzed by so-called experts to determine the success of this operation and any modifications that need to be made to improve their techniques. After all, if unbridled police power works on anyone that rides a motorcycle, it will work with any group.
This time it was the motorcyclist, next time it could be the police at your home. Never mind knocking at your door - a SWAT team just smashes your door and yells, "Everybody on the floor; we're here to collect your guns." Police become emboldened by flaunting their power. Unfortunately, there are those in a community that don't understand what is actually taking place and support this kind of police action. For example, about 30 members of the Grants Pass Kiwanis applauded both Sheriff Dave Daniel and City Police Chief Henner according to their president Toni Pyatt.
You can't trust police to uphold the Constitution
Police reportedly apologized to some individuals about the excessive use of power. These individuals had a conscience, but not large enough to say no, I won't participate in this type of police harassment of citizens. After all, these men and women have a career, a salary, benefits, and retirement. Many by saying no would probably be fired and lose years towards their retirement pensions. This is why police will do what they are told by those who control their jobs. They have sworn to uphold the Constitution, but they won't do it. It's much safer for them to up hold their boss's orders. In the Nuremberg war crimes the Nazis used the excuse that they were only following orders. And this is why Sheriff Dave Daniel is so dangerous to our community; he allowed the use of this excessive police power for intimidation and harassment of a select group of citizens in Josephine County.
Recall bad sheriff
How can you stop this type of police state action carried out by men and women in uniforms with guns and badges in you local community? While some local Kiwanis members will applaud these actions there are those who still believe in the US Constitution. The only effective remedy for the violation of the county citizens' civil rights is to make a dramatic statement and recall the county sheriff Dave Daniel. Mr. Daniel is the head police officer in Josephine County; the FBI needs his cooperation to operate in JoCo as do the police from outside counties. Daniel put out the invitation to the FBI, BATF and others; Ya all come and have a good time and flex your muscles.
Without Daniel this police state spectacular would not have taken place. Daniel has a long record showing he is not a competent sheriff, and for this reason he must be recalled. A drastic statement must be made to the feds and other police agencies that abuse of police power will not be tolerated by we the people ( not we the sheeple.) Benjamin Franklin said, "They that give up liberty for security deserve neither."
Grants Pass Daily Courier July 8, 2005, Bikers to rally against sheriff
© 2005 John Taft - All
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John Taft former president of Josephine County, OR. Taxpayers Association is presently an investigative reporter for the US-Observer and NewsWithViews.com. He has had many years of broadcasting, news writing and reporting experience. He also has written a popular conservative newsletter for a taxpayers organization to inform the public on taxing issues.