The American liberty movement, with little argument, was pretty much born and nurtured in the environs of Boston. And that is apparently where it died.
In what can only be called the Siege of Watertown, the government essentially declared martial law in the Massachusetts town, put thousands of law-abiding Americans under house arrest and went from house to house frisking and searching homes while pointing automatic weapons at Americans. All to arrest a single teenager.
In the end, the terrorists won. America lost.
True, the dastardly crime of which the teenager is accused was vicious. Also true, the capture of the perpetrators was an important goal.
Still, in the end, it was just a crime. It certainly did not warrant the behavior of the police and military in the conduct of its “manhunt.”
A house-to-house search to hunt down a criminal is an egregious abuse of power. Your constitutional rights are more important than the capture of a criminal, even a terrorist.
Yes, the lockdown was, on its face, voluntary. But tell that to the men in black body armor wielding machine guns and tanks as they treated the public as suspects, sources of interference or targets for displays of governmental authority. Can you really give informed consent with an M16 in your face? Having had the business end of an M16 pointed at me by a government agent before, I know the answer.
The police narrative is the residents were fully cooperating with the lockdown and house-to-house search. Yet, videos taken by residents show this was not the case.
While the video of soldiers with tanks, attack helicopters and machine guns patrolling an American town and searching door-to-door was disturbing enough, the lack of an outcry from those outside the area of operations is even more disturbing.
Where, for example, is the outrage of the tea party? I am pretty sure the Sons of Liberty, the Boston group who, in 1773, destroyed 342 chests of tea by dumping them in Boston Harbor during the original Tea Party, would not have stood idly by and let government troops conduct a house-to-house search while placing the town under a form of house arrest.
Does anyone doubt Samuel Adams, if alive today, would be vehemently protesting the government’s actions?
When British soldiers murdered five innocent Americans and injured others three years before the Tea Party, did Bostonians run and cower in their homes? No, they stood their ground and only dispersed after being assured there would be a legitimate investigation into what we call today the Boston Massacre.
Then, a leading patriot and lawyer, who was deeply involved in the liberty movement, agreed to defend the soldiers to ensure a fair trial.
That lawyer, John Adams, wrote three years later: “The Part I took in Defence of … the Soldiers, procured me Anxiety. … It was, however, one of the most gallant, generous, manly and disinterested Actions of my whole Life, and one of the best Pieces of Service I ever rendered my Country. Judgment of Death against those Soldiers would have been as foul a Stain upon this Country as the Executions of the Quakers or Witches, anciently.”
Adams’ defense of those soldiers is the epitome of what it means to live in a free country. Despite being the enemy and despite the heinousness of the crime, they still deserved a fair trial that complied with all the rules.
Compare that with the government’s actions after Tsarnaev was arrested. The FBI was upset that he was read his rights and allowed to consult with an attorney.
Those defending the tyrannical actions of the government during the occupation of Watertown argue the government should be able to do whatever is necessary to protect the people, even suspending civil rights.
There is a thin line between that kind of thinking and concentration camps, as I’m sure thousands of Japanese-Americans from the 1940s could attest.
However, and this there can be no denying, there is no “public safety” exception to the Constitution.
Do constitutional protections make it harder for law enforcement officials to do their jobs? Certainly.
Civil rights are easy to protect when things are fine; however, they are most important during times of peril and should never be pushed aside, especially not at the point of a government gun.