In the nation’s capitol, the Washington, D.C. police are closing off whole neighborhoods this weekend in a crack down on crimes — and civil liberties. No one will be allowed into areas of the Capitol unless they live their or can show that they are going things like going to church.
Police will determine whether people have a “legitimate purpose” in the area. — a plan that has drawn swift criticism from civil liberties groups.
The plan is not only constitutionally flawed but practically absurd. The police cannot maintain such roadblocks indefinitely. Pedestrians will not be subject to the checkpoints. It seems a publicity stunt being conduct at the cost of the Constitution. If they were really serious, they should have gone to Tibet and learned from the masters.
Remarkably, D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier insisted to the media that her record respecting civil liberties speaks for itself. It certainly does. I am one of the lead counsel in the World Bank protest cases where hundreds of people were arrested with probable cause and then many hog-tied with their wrists handcuffed to their ankles. Lanier’s role in the controversy would hardly be an endorsement of her commitment to civil liberties.
The fact that this outrage could occur in our Capitol is simply astonishing — particularly without a hearing in Congress.