This is what a police state looks like

checkpointcharlie

A police state looks calm, if you’re not being oppressed.

Grassroots activists and advocacy journalists in Southern California have been decrying the rise and proliferation of “sobriety checkpoints” for the past two years, saying they’re victimizing undocumented immigrants. See the list of links below for recent historical info. Ryan Gabrielson has done some great research, and has two stories, one at the NYT, accompanied by a video, and one at Mother Jones, revealing new and scandalous facts that point to systematically supported, police-coordinated theft.

The new information that Gabrielson dug up points to huge fiscal motivations for cities to run checkpoints. The checkpoints are paid for by the State, but the fines collected and impound fees collected benefit City governments.

These checkpoints always turn up many more unlicensed drivers than drunk drivers. They are used in Latino communities far more than other communities.

Rockero, the author of several articles linked below, noted that these checkpoints have the same function as checkpoints all over the world: in Israel, Mexico, and anywhere where we’re at war.

Historical reference of some local stories about checkpoints. URLs include to show dates:
http://laeastside.com/2009/12/dirty-deeds-done-dirt-cheap/
http://la.indymedia.org/news/2009/12/233456.php
http://www.immigrantsolidarity.org/cgi-bin/datacgi/database.cgi?file=Issues&report=SingleArticle&ArticleID=1338
http://laeastside.com/2008/06/sobriety-check-point-on-cesar-chavez-and-evergreen/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFjNK-NFleg
http://standing-firm.com/2007/08/10/residents-fight-to-protect-community-against-unjust-checkpoints/
http://detodos-paratodos.blogspot.com/2008/09/pomona-coalition-demands-investigation.html
http://la.indymedia.org/news/2009/12/233422.php
http://la.indymedia.org/news/2010/01/234528.php
http://la.indymedia.org/news/2010/02/234730.php
http://la.indymedia.org/news/2009/12/233253.php
http://regenerationtv.net/pipermail/imc-la/2009-January/000992.html
This article was informed by an email by Rockero.

11 thoughts on “This is what a police state looks like

  1. It’s one thing to raise fees in hard times, but it’s another to target communities because the police knows they won’t fight back and they little to no rights. It’s these kind of actions that fracture police and community relations. In situations like this, police become nothing more than standered issued street soldiers.

  2. These checkpoints are a legal gray area, and were questionable, even for their stated purpose of getting DUIs off the street. They were allowed because they discouraged driving drunk — an exception was granted because the violation of rights was worth the increase in safety.

    Gabrielson’s article and the info he got about the number of undocumented versus the number of DUIs, proves to me that these checkpoints aren’t about public safety. If a judge agrees, then, these checkpoints will be against the law, and stopped.

    These checkpoints are thuggery — a kind of “tax collection” similar to shakedowns gangs do to street vendors and mom-and-pop shops. (Jeez, now I’m sounding like RobThomas.)

  3. Couldn’t have said it better myself, Alienation. 🙂 Anyhow, great topic and post. No doubt poor areas are being targeted due to their lack of access to legal counsel.

  4. “They are used in Latino communities far more than other communities.”

    Latino communities tend to be more dense, right? More people, more checkpoints.

    Of course, everybody here seems to ignore the checkpoints that happen in other parts of the region. But there are certainly going to hold more checkpoints in East LA than San Clemente simply because East LA is more dense.

    I support DUI checkpoints and if they get unlicensed and uninsured drivers, as well as people with warrants out for their arrest, off the streets, I support it all the more. Driving is a privilege, not a right.

    If you don’t wish to participate in DUI checkpoints, feel free to sell your car.

  5. If checkpoints are designed to catch drunk drivers, which DUI checkpoints obviously purport to do, then shouldn’t they prioritize areas where people are most likely to drink and drive? My guess would be that such locales are near bars, night clubs, colleges. I don’t see why population density would be a priority if the goal is to catch drunk drivers. Go to where the drunk drivers are. I just don’t buy your explanation, Spokker.

  6. That’s what a military intervention into a drug gang dominated area looks like.

    Years ago, though, there were police checkpoints everywhere to check for drugs.

  7. If these were set up in parts of town where the resident population was wise to how the state is run, they wouldn’t sang as many cars. I just spent a couple of months working the Bureau of Street Services to get a broken sidewalk access panel fixed – one that has been broken for years. It was located in front of a small discount store, the owner doesn’t speak English well and assured me that the city didn’t care to fix it.

    You do one too many of these checkpoints in a tony part of town and people will be driving around with copies of the court decision that declared the practice of impounding cars due to lack of drivers’ license illegal laminated and stored in their glove boxes.

    Do the checkpoints in East L.A. and who gives a shit? Nobody has a high powered lawyer on speed dial around here, and the cops know it.

    I got that sidewalk panel fixed by writing to the BSS through their web-site and by calling and claiming that I’d seen others (or had myself) tripped and been injured on the broken portion of the sidewalk. When residents know how to get the goons off their back, and how to keep their local government responsible, good things get done.

  8. The Police State in L.A. is alive and well! According to the February 22nd edition of La Opinion, 126 security cameras are being installed at Jordan Downs,Nickerson Gardens, Imperial Courts and others. I know the tough on crime crowd is going to say “it’s about time!” but is it fair? A poor project resident can’t even smoke a jay without having to worry about a cop coming by and citing him while the rest of us can puff away. This reminds me of that WuTang lyric “Third Eye bright as a street lamp.” Keep it low pro bro!

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