"...do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic..."

"For the good of the Air Force, for the good of the armed services and for the good of our country, I urge you to reject convention and careerism..."
- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Maxwell AFB, April 21, 2008

"You will need to challenge conventional wisdom and call things like you see them to subordinates and superiors alike."
- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, United States Air Force Academy, March 4, 2011

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Activist Groups Tell Justices To Curb Lengthy Border Stops

From the excellent article by Bryan Koenig:
Law360, Washington (September 14, 2015, 4:40 PM ET) -- A pair of activist groups have joined a U.S. Air Force officer’s certiorari bid telling the Supreme Court that allowing U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents to subject individuals to lengthy internal checkpoint stops simply due to “unorthodox behavior” invites abuse.

The Texas Civil Rights Project and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild asked the high court to take up Air Force Major Richard Rynearson’s appeal of a split Fifth Circuit ruling that found that two Border Patrol agents did not violate the Fourth Amendment when they held Rynearson for 34 minutes in a 2010 stop at an internal immigration checkpoint. 

The article continues to quote the amicus brief, stating:

“The Fifth Circuit excused the agents’ dilatory conduct on the view that petitioner engaged in purportedly ‘unorthodox tactics’ during the stop and ‘the agents had difficulty determining how to respond,’” the groups said in their Sept. 8 amicus brief. “But that makes no sense. The only purpose of the stop was to determine whether petitioner had a right to be in the United States, and nothing petitioner did prevented the agents from asking the questions and inspecting the documents needed to make that determination.”

The article gives a good summary of the issue presented in my civil suit:

Rynearson should not have been subjected to the lengthy stop simply because he asserted his rights against unreasonable searches and seizures, the groups said. Calling his bosses at Laughlin Air Force Base and requesting his passports as the agents did was outside the bounds of a proper checkpoint stop, the groups argued.

“The delay had nothing to do with determining petitioner’s citizenship; it resulted from the agents’ decision to use the stop to question petitioner about his military status and to complain to his military superiors when he was less deferential than they might have preferred,” the groups said. “The notion that the agents could prolong the stop for that purpose, merely because they did not like petitioner’s demeanor, is absurd.”

An attorney for Rynearson, J. Carl Cecere of Cecere PC, told Law360 Monday that the groups’ support “shows the importance of our case.”

Importantly, the article states toward the end:

The advocacy groups blasted the Fifth Circuit’s decision in their brief, warning of a new and dangerous precedent that could create a loophole to Fourth Amendment protections, which could broaden what they argued is already a serious problem with checkpoint abuse.

“It invites Border Patrol agents to extend stops whenever a detainee engages in what the agents might characterize as ‘unorthodox tactics,’” they said, “which apparently include asserting one’s constitutional rights.”

To read the full article, please click here.

To read the joint amicus brief from the Texas Civil Rights Project and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, please click here.

Update (23 Sep 15):  The SCOTUS has requested the government provide a response to this cert petition.

To watch a video of me discussing this issue on Fox News with John Stossel, combined with clips of the oral argument before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals along with clips from the actual checkpoint encounter itself, please check out the video below, "Clearly Established."

Friday, September 11, 2015

Two Party Amicus Brief in Support of My Civil Suit Before SCOTUS

Amicus brief in support of of my civil suit filed by the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild and the Texas Civil Rights Project, against the Border Patrol and Fifth Circuit's amazing claim that individuals can be legally seized for thirty-four minutes without any suspicion of a crime, and agents do not have to be diligent or limit their inquiry to a driver's immigration status.

Those interested can read the Amicus brief here.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

VAPA Denounces Antonio Buehler

From the Veterans Against Police Abuse FB page:

It is long overdue.  While VAPA has spent thousands of dollars on Peaceful Streets Project events and Antonio's defense fund, we must denounce Antonio for his demagoguery.  We support other Peaceful Streets Project folks who take a principled stand for police accountability, and hope they are able to overcome the liability that Antonio presents.  This is not a personal attack on Antonio, we acknowledge the many good things he has done for police accountability, and we understand his frustrations.  But his emotional rhetoric is not only false, but destructive to the cause of police accountability.  We believe it is time for him to apologize and retract his hateful statements, or to step down from the PSP.

For years Antonio has expressed his view that there are no good cops.  He has been privately and publicly corrected on his assertion by the founder of VAPA.  Such criticisms have been consistently met with vitriol and anger by some PSP members and Antonio, and have resulted in Antonio banning and defriending on social media those who would offer those criticisms.  It has become apparent that Antonio's irresponsible statements and professions are not simply emotional frustration that he can rise above.

In the latest challenge, when presented with several examples of good cops whistle blowing, physically restraining police officers in the act of brutality, and then being fired for doing so, Antonio responded that they still are not good cops because good cops would take a stand to the point where they are killed.  Antonio's verbose view can be summed up with the statement that "the only good cop is a dead cop."

Antonio recently stated: "Cops are bad.  There is no such thing as a good cop.  They're terrorist scum."

We reject this assertion and we therefore must reject Antonio.

We also do not accept the excuse that Peaceful Streets Project put out on its blog to justify its Twitter statement concerning a Harris County Sheriff being murdered: "Pig executed in Houston. Probably shouldn't have joined a criminal gang. His bad decisions caught up with him. Blame his parents."

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo (himself a bad cop unworthy of public office) responded with strategic success to Antonio's Tweet stating, "This is how mind of so-called peaceful activist works & why police officers don't want him inches from their face."

While Antonio's Peaceful Streets Project attempted to explain that they were simply mirroring how police refer to victims of police brutality, the excuse is undercut by Antonio's frequent statements that there are no good cops, all cops are bad, terrorists, scum, etc.  While this comment was justified by Antonio and PSP as simply mirroring how police demonize victims of police abuse, Antonio's consistent statements over the years show that he is not mirroring the demonization employed by bad cops, but rather that he shares it.

We hope the Peaceful Streets Project can evolve beyond its founder and his demagoguery.  While demonetization of an entire group based simply on group association is a good way to build numbers and organize, as history has most certainly shown, it is not a good way to secure justice.  It is wrong and based on hate and ignorance.  It is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

In our view, Antonio Buehler has long exceeded his utility for police accountability and suffers from either a lack of character, a lack of emotional control, or both.  His words make it clear that he shares the attitudes, insecurity, and ego of bad cops who also demonize groups based simply on association rather than on evidence of individual action.  Antonio is far too similar to bad cops with his hate and demagoguery, his desire to insulate his own "troops" from criticism and voices of the larger community, and his lack of concern for being accurate when diagnosing the challenges Americans face with a very real police state.

Whatever Antonio is working for, it is not police accountability.  We are concerned that he is willing to squander the gains made by the many courageous people who have worked so hard in the PSP to document police abuse.

We hope the Peaceful Streets Project can overcome this challenge, and get back to working for police accountability rather than providing an emotional outlet for insecure cult-leader-like personalities who preach hatred.

Here is a response to an edited version of this opinion piece, posted as an op-ed on PhotographyIsNotaCrime.Com.