It Can Happen Here, and Already Has

The Colorado Freedom Report:  A libertarian journal of politics and culture.

The Colorado Freedom

It Can Happen Here, and Already Has

by Douglas Bruce, May 8, 2003

I recently tried to attend a meeting of the new city council at City Hall. A security guard told me I must sign in and show photo ID. I declined, noting this was a public meeting. He raced over to block the elevator door, then called for "back-up." (Call 911--thinking man at large!)

The budget director came over and said, "Hello, Mr. Bruce." I then noted to the security guard that my identity was known. Of course, logic doesn't matter to zombies -- rules are rules. Your tax dollars at work. In fact, security guards could not distinguish a fake ID from a rhinoceros. I have also signed "A. Lincoln" without detection at our police stations, where this patently useless and illegal sign-in paranoia began last year.

Then CSPD officer Adams came over. He said, "Hi, Doug." I said hello, then asked if I could now go to the meeting. No dice. I went to the other side. Officer Adams had raced over there and blocked me again. During both episodes, prominent public citizens entered and meekly obeyed this new order like sheep. Officer Adams said the policy was started recently by our city manager, Lorne Kramer, who, significantly, is our former police chief. Officer Adams was "just following orders." Hmm, wasn't that the Nuremburg defense?

So I left and drove to Denver to testify at a committee meeting at the state capitol, where there is no security guard, no sign-in, no photo ID, no metal detector, and no problem.

The classic hallmark of a police state is the ability of armed police to stop citizens and to demand to see their identity papers. Standard World War II movies show Nazis doing just that. You may scoff, "It can't happen here," but it is happening, today, in our city.

Apart from revealing a dangerously statist mentality, the absurdity is that everyone knew me, but mindlessly demanded photo ID anyway. Does Mr. Kramer really think our city council is high on al-Qaeda's hit list? That Grandma is a threat? With no body search or metal detector, a suicide bomber could show ID, real or fake, and go right in anyway.

Government has no right to arbitrarily track our movements. Did our troops fight in the desert abroad so that we could "line up for the showers" at home? When did one unelected bureaucrat in the executive branch seize the power to legislate citizen behavior in violation of the constitutional doctrines of checks and balances and separation of powers?

All actions taken by the city council while this policy is in effect are void because they were not passed at a lawful public meeting. Meetings required by law to be public are not lawful or public if citizens are prevented from attending, or ordered to surrender their Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure in order to exercise their First Amendment rights peaceably to assemble and to petition the government.

Our so-called conservative council claims to encourage citizen involvement. But people should not trust a government that does not trust the people. The council ought to join Mr. Kramer, the city attorney, and all other city employees at an all-day seminar on the U.S. Constitution. I doubt any of them has read it, even though they mechanically mumbled an oath to uphold it. I would gladly provide each of them with a copy. I'll even underline the best parts--"We the People" and the Bill of Rights -- if that will help them grasp who works for whom in America.

Douglas Bruce is the author of the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights.

The Colorado Freedom