by Joel Poindexter
There’s really no other word that would accurately describe the behavior of the many agencies that stormed through Boston and its suburbs this week. Thousands of State and local police, sheriff’s deputies, FBI SWAT employees, Homeland Security Shock Troops, and National Guard soldiers conducted a massive search – virtually none of it in compliance with the 4th Amendment – in search of a single teenager. They practically ordered an entire city “locked down” and were presumably prepared to begin arresting residents who refused to comply with what amounted to martial law.
Now, just for a moment consider what the effective lock down means. As Charles W. Johnson presented the situation on Facebook, lockdown is “from the vocabulary of prison wardens, referring to a condition in which inmates are temporarily completely restricted in their movements and confined to their cells, in order to allow prison guards to conduct searches or contain and control what the inmates are doing.” He then asks these two questions: “If the police have the power to put a city ‘on lockdown,’ then what does that make the city? And what does it make the innocent people living in it?” Well, it would make the city a prisons and the residents would be inmates, naturally.
Now, had the search not ended as early as it did, one question that seems appropriate is, “what about the 3rd Amendment?” Perhaps the least-addressed of all the amendments in the bill of rights, it’s no less relevant to the situation. While it refers specifically to soldiers, little distinction exists in light of these two photographs. The individual on the left is, according to the source, a member of the FBI, who helped in the search. The individual on the right is a soldier in Afghanistan. Note the similarities in the uniform, the equipment, and the weapons. Whatever legal differences exist between the military and civilian law enforcement are at this point irrelevant.