By: Jake Morphonios, ETNR
February 4, 2016
Over the years, I have had both good and bad interactions with the FBI. I've had friendships with agents in the CIA and the FBI while maintaining an ardent opposition to the agencies themselves. These connections have proven valuable, especially with regard to my reporting. Just this week, I was able to visit with a friend of mine in the FBI and ask some questions about FBI operations (see photo). I disagree with the sentiment that all federal employees are villains. Some of the people in these services share many of the same concerns that I do regarding the constitutionality of their operations. They see the rapid militarization of various federal bureaucracies into a very large, centrally-controlled standing army and it causes them alarm. These individuals are decent people - patriotic Americans who, like many of us, want what is best for our nation, though we differ in opinion on how to achieve our goals. It is to those individuals that this message is written.
I do not believe that it is justifiable to shoot an innocent man in cold blood, while he has his hands in the air, to silence his political speech - especially when the warrant for his arrest says that his "crime" is nothing more than hindering a few workers in a bird sanctuary from going about their daily routine. What the FBI did to LaVoy was atrocious and I want you to understand why.
The "crime" that LaVoy Finicum engaged in is called “civil disobedience,” and it is a very important type of free speech. I can see how some people with different perspectives might think that he should be arrested for participating in an act of civil disobedience.
But I cannot see how the situation in Oregon could justify:
• using armed drones and reconnaissance planes;
• FBI surveillance of the phones and computers of hundreds of people (including people not even at the refuge);
• acts of malicious intimidation by filling the town to the brim with over a hundred heavily armed agents and scores of government vehicles;
• posting heavily armed militarized goons around the public courthouse who refuse repeatedly to identify who they work for to the public;
• monitoring the online activities of citizens who are talking about the issue in social media;
• using undercover agents to pose as protesters to infiltrate and harass the local population to try to turn them against the protesters;
• creating a no-fly zone over the area;
* engaging in false negotiations;
• using an entire convoy of federal vehicles to shut down a vast stretch of highway without the consent of the local sheriff;
• shooting at LaVoy's vehicle twice to make him unwittingly flee for safety toward a pre-determined kill zone;
• firing at him during the chase;
• setting up a roadblock with federal agents, state police and Blackstone mercenaries;
• posting multiple snipers in the woods, some with snowmobiles;
• jumping out from behind cover to try to shoot him through his windshield;
• pumping him full of bullets after he got out with his hands up to try to draw fire away from his fellow passengers;
• flipping him the bird and withholding medical treatment while he lay dying in the snow;
• terrorizing three innocent people in the vehicle by firing flash grenades, bullets and tear gas pellets at them for 10 minutes (putting a bullet into the arm of one of the passengers and emotionally scarring a teenage girl for the rest of her life);
• and, on top of it all, releasing a video to justify the murder by claiming that LaVoy was "going for a gun", when in fact he was reaching down to clutch at a bullet wound he had just received.
So let's ask ourselves: was the US government justified in this kind of response to an act of civil disobedience? Let's look at how civil disobedience has been handled in the past.
I live in Greensboro, NC - the site of the famous 1960 "Greensboro Sit-In." Four black men entered a Woolworth department store and sat down at the "whites only" lunch counter and asked to be served. Though they were told to leave, the men continued sitting at the counter beyond the store closing time and refused to leave. The next day 20 more blacks joined the sit-in. Then the numbers rose to 60, then to 300, all the way up to nearly 1,400 protesters, both black and white. The sit-in dragged on for months. By the time the sit-in was finished, the store claimed nearly $200,000 in losses ($1.6 million today). The Greensboro sit-in sparked other protests, sit-ins, and acts of civil disobedience around the country. The lunch counter employees were not able to go about their work routines and both customers and workers reported feeling threatened and intimidated. But at no point did federal agents wiretap them, surround them with light armored tanks or shoot anyone. In fact, not only did federal agents not get involved, but not even local police authorities tried to arrest the activists. The North Carolina History web site says, "The reaction of police departments in the region was, by and large, muted."
How times have changed. And, unfortunately, not for the better.
Since the passage of the USA Patriot Act following the September 11th attacks, civil liberties and constitutional rights have eroded at an astounding pace. It is natural that in the face of ongoing oppression by an out-of-touch, out-of-control, and out-of-its-mind federal government the citizens are going to engage in peaceful resistance. It is not only our right, but it is our duty. Civil disobedience is the act of disobeying a law on justified grounds of moral or political principle. A very common form of civil disobedience is the occupation of property or buildings. We engage in civil disobedience to try to influence society into accepting a point of view that goes against the point of view of the oppressor. In other words, civil disobedience is meant to wake up the sleeping masses and draw their attention to an injustice that is so morally repugnant that they should get involved, even if the problem does not currently affect them personally.
If you're interested in this subject, you may wish to read "On the Duty of Civil Disobedience" by Henry David Thoreau. He reasons that when a person's conscience clashes with existing law, the person has the moral right to follow his conscience rather than the law. A principle of civil disobedience is that when a law genuinely violates a person's conscience, that person has the right to act now - rather than wait for the day when the law might be changed. In fact, the Declaration of Independence proclaimed that government gets its power from the people and if that government misuses its authority it is the right and the duty of the people to fight back - which is exactly what Ammon, Ryan, LaVoy, Shawna and the other Citizens for Constitutional Freedom were doing.
Our nation's history is rife with acts of civil disobedience against government, from the Boston Tea Party where colonists trespassed on government property and destroyed its cargo, to Harriet Tubman's underground railroad to help free slaves, to the Women's Suffrage Movement when thousands of women were arrested and jailed for their acts of civil disobedience designed to secure equal rights, to the anti-war movement during the Vietnam era. On and on the list goes, right down to our day when private property owners in the West are rising up in large numbers to protest the ongoing theft of lands and abuse by the federal government's various agencies.
In all of these various movements, the citizens had first tried to achieve justice through the legal process. They petitioned for a redress of their grievances. They lobbied and petitioned, wrote letters, went to court, tried to work through state legislatures - all for nothing. In each instance, the legitimate demands of every single group were flatly rejected. When justice cannot be obtained through the existing legal and political systems, civil disobedience naturally follows. Engaging in civil disobedience does not mean that a person is immoral or criminal. It means that they have the courage of their convictions to put their own safety and freedom at risk for a cause greater than themselves.
Engaging in civil disobedience should not make an American citizen a target for political assassination by our government. And I hope that my friends and acquaintances who work in the FBI and other federal agencies will, from today forward, have the moral courage to disobey orders that violate the US Constitution or that otherwise violate their conscience. I know some of you, and I know that you do not agree with many of the actions being taken by your superiors. I call on you to either remain within your organizations and actively work to subvert efforts to harass or harm innocent citizens - or quit.
However, if you continue "just following orders" to keep earning a paycheck at the expense of the justice and liberty of your fellow man, you should feel shame every day as you look in the mirror at yourself. "I'm just following orders" was the same defense that the Nazis gave during the Nuremberg Trials to justify their assaults on innocent people. The time has come for you to ask yourself where your true loyalties lie and pick a side. You can either stand with the American people and try to protect us, or you can stand with the government that is oppressing us and operate as its hammer to pound the citizens into submission.
Depending on your choice, you determine whether you are my friend - or my enemy.
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