LP Joins Protest of Police Files
by Ari Armstrong
[The following article originally appeared in the May 2002 edition of Colorado Liberty.]
"We're here because of the First Amendment." That's what biker and self-described "liberal Democrat" Bill Jones told a crowd of around 90 at the state capitol April 21.
Jones joined with members of the Libertarian Party, Riders for Justice, the Tyranny Response Team, and other organizations to protest the collection of files on peaceable ralliers by the Denver police department.
U.S. Senate Candidate Rick Stanley led a rally of around 30 people earlier in the afternoon below the capitol before joining the other event. He described himself as an "anti-politician," saying, "I believe this country needs citizen legislators."
"The rights enumerated in the first ten amendments are restraints on government," Stanley reminded the crowd.
At the second event, LP gubernatorial candidate Ralph Shnelvar said the police records are "frightening to potential ralliers." Shnelvar quoted Justice Louis Brandeis, "The right to be left alone [is] the most comprehensive of rights, and the right most valued by civilized men... To protect that right, every unjustifiable intrusion by the government upon the privacy of the individual, whatever the means employed, must be deemed a violation of the Fourth Amendment."
Stephen Ziegenhagen, director of the TRT, also argued police surveillance chills the right of free speech because some people are afraid of ending up on government lists. He noted that people with otherwise divergent views "share a belief in the right to assemble."
The Denver police department has collected files on over 3,000 citizens. The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a law suit over the matter.
Len Jackson said she signed the LP's non-initiation of force pledge long ago. "I'm a good citizen," she said, adding that the proper role of citizens is to watch events and ask questions about politics.
Jackson noted that the police often engage in practices that can be considered entrapment and they sometimes break down people's doors and kill them -- as in the case of Ismael Mena. Yet when citizens rally to protest such actions, the citizens are the ones labeled "suspicious persons." There is "no excuse" for the police to keep such records, she said.
Alan Glenski of the TRT served as moderator of the event and interjected lines from luminaries of freedom such as Frederick Douglass and H.L. Mencken. The Bill of Rights won't protect itself, Glenski suggested. "It is up to us."