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Posts Tagged ‘surveillance’

Once upon a time there was a country that belonged to the people.  Maybe you have an idea which one I mean.  The thing about ownership is that property can be stolen.  Two of the ten Mosaic commandments address property rights.  But not only is theft no longer illegal; it has been codified.  Government itself functions on and benefits from theft.  We’re talking about private property, private rights, private liberty. 

 

 

 

It just so happens that the supreme law of this land guarantees a few rights to its people.  For example, we have the right to peaceably assemble, the right to bear arms, the right to free speech, and freedom from federal laws instituting or prohibiting religion’s exercise.  There are a few other little rights that we usually ignore, but that are in this simple list of laws all the same.  We citizens cannot be unreasonably searched, plundered, or seized by our government.  There is a right to trial by jury, prompt and in due process.  (Due process and promptness tend to be mutually exclusive in today’s courts.  But they keep everything legal by allowing you to waive your right to a free trial so that there will be no miscarriage of justice.) 

 

I’ve never been too bothered by conspiracy theories that warn, “Big brother is watching you.”  I mean, our country has ceased to belong to the people, and the rulers in charge have the power, should they choose to declare themselves free of the laws that have kept us complacent, to do whatever they want.  By the time Big Brother has put surveillance in place, you weren’t free anyway.  We were already doomed. 

 

So I’m not sounding any dark warnings here.  (Well… I guess I did begin on a depressing note…)  What I want to do is to tell you a story.  If you wish it were impossible, you are welcome to protest to your elected officials (and the unelected ones).  If instead you see opportunity and power to take to yourself, by all means, step up to the plate. 

 

You probably know if you’re a regular reader of my blog that I do regular sidewalk counseling, a ministry by which, with much prayer, I stand on a sidewalk outside an abortion clinic and try for a chance to talk with a mother about her choice, to share options with her, truth with her, and chances for help.  This is the last ditch effort to save lives – a place for me to meet hurting people and offer them love.  That love tends to look like standing on a ladder increasing my volume as the women move away from me and towards the door through which they will murder their sons and daughters, warning them about side effects, consequences, and the precious life they have this one last chance to save – that is unfortunate.  I wish that more often it looked like a girl sitting in the passenger seat of a car looking at pictures of life forming in a womb, shedding quiet tears and finding out about forgiveness, hope, and crisis pregnancy clinics that can help.  Sometimes it does, and I rejoice to see fruit in my attempts. 

 

So this abortion clinic is on the edge of an ethnic neighborhood caught between mall redevelopment and inner city tradition and railroad industry.  It sits on a wide, empty street.  Directly across is an abandoned parking lot.  On either side is a telephone company building that has no signs and gets about one visit a week, and a fire house no longer in use.  This three-story red brick building is surrounded by no trespassing signs, and displays a few large signs warning that no help can be found at the location any longer.  On top is a disaster siren that is tested on Wednesdays at 11 when the weather and season are right.  Beside that are two white cameras, rounded in a style too modern and artistic to be original to the building.  From their vantage point on the tower, these two cameras can take in the whole street – not to mention the cameras posted high on the lights above the entrance to the abortion clinic. 

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So this building still appears to be public property, with the siren on top – but it isn’t.  Yet the police came last week to ticket another sidewalk counselor.  They parked (side by side, blocking half the road) and sat to watch us for a while.  Mostly ignoring them, we went on as usual.  They have warned us before about “stopping cars by stepping into the street.”  Now, we stand in this empty street near the curb because of sunshine.  Until about 10 AM the black tarp the abortion clinic has erected to keep the truth contained and invisible to the women it entices in with “choice” manages to shade the entire sidewalk.  So I don’t have to step into the street for anything; I’m already there.  But if I do happen to be on the sidewalk instead, I don’t step into the street.  I stand on the edge of the curb and hold out my hand in a stop signal or extend a flyer towards cars driving to the abortion clinic.  This is an effective tactic because it is non-threatening (and a little confusing), so people tend to stop.  When they stop, we go to their cars to give them the promised flyer and try to talk them out of killing children.  No one has ever been unable to access the street or the clinic due to this tactic, nor have we forcibly stopped cars or impeded traffic.  If the conversation is going well, we will have the car pull to one side so we can talk more. 

 

Last week while the police watched, I did that very thing.  I extended the flyer with a large list of facilities and people offering help to moms in need to a couple in a car.  They stopped and I headed to meet them with my paper, but was intercepted by the other sidewalk counselor, who has been doing this for decades and knows what to say much better than I do.  After a few sentences, she had them pull to the curb so she could answer their curiosity about what was going on (they were not clients of the abortionist).  Five to ten minutes after her conversation had begun, the police got out of their cars and came up to her, interrupting and requesting that she come with them.  She complied. 

 

They told her they would have to give her a ticket.  In a few minutes I joined her, confessing that I had stopped the car (which they could see).  The officer, who was considerably taller and larger than me, ignored me.  He said not a word to me, and seemed by looking over my head and addressing my friend to have brushed me aside like a bit of lint blowing across his vision.  After a short plea for the officers to save lives instead of writing tickets that would prevent her from doing so, she decided that her temper could not handle further discussion, and submitted to the citation. 

 

As the police drove away, we the pro-life team gathered around the yellow slip to discuss, question, and criticize all that had taken place.  “They showed me pictures,” my friend said.  And she pointed.  The pictures the police had used for evidence were taken from the old firehouse across the street.  “You were in one of them, standing by the car with me,” she looked at me.  But I hadn’t been by the car today, and how could they get pictures so quickly? 

 The Cameras

“What’s the date?” said another friend, an older man with a golden dog on a leash.  “This citation is written for yesterday.  At 11:38 AM.  Were you here at 11:38 yesterday?”  My friend nodded. 

 

“But I wasn’t.  I was at work…  That picture must have been from a long time ago.  I haven’t been in the street for a while.”  I added. 

 

“The officer signed as the complainant.  He wasn’t here yesterday.” 

 

“[the security guard] complained.  He called them,”  reported the owner of the ticket. 

 

“A police officer can’t be the complainant unless he was a witness.” 

 

That’s how it went.  She’s going to challenge the ticket in court (something she is rather good at by way of experience).  The incident for which she was cited was actually a mom with two little kids in her car driving by asking for directions.  My friend didn’t even do anything to get that woman to stop except to be outside. 

 

So here’s my question.  It only took a little bit of investigation to know that Planned Parenthood owns the cameras that survey the entire public street.  There is no sign on the building on which they were mounted informing the public that they are being video-taped.  Court precedent says that such surveillance is legal if it is in a place where someone can reasonably expect to be seen (parks, streets).  But since when can a private company or citizen take a picture of someone doing something that they think may be illegal, send the picture to the police with a complaint, and the police respond with a ticket?  Can you really be ticketed for something that no one witnessed? 

 

This has come up with the photo-radar machines that measure your speed and then snap a picture of you and your license plate as you drive by.  Some courts, I believe, have ruled that such evidence is shaky. 

 

And I understand that video from security cameras can be used to track down, identify, and convict criminals who rob convenience stores or graffiti buildings.  That’s ok with me.  But seriously – a jaywalking ticket after the fact?  And absolutely no one was inconvenienced?  Can I set up a camera on my street and call the police on random kids – or on cars failing to use turn signals, etc.?  It’s bad enough for the police to do it themselves, let alone a private citizen! 

 

Planned Parenthood loses money every time we educate women and help them to avoid the stain of murder on their conscience.  That wicked company is therefore applying pressure to the public government, asking them to enforce laws that they never enforce (tying up 3 to 4 officers and squad cars to deliver the citations, for some reason) on the rest of the population, so that the calloused businessmen inside can keep brutally murdering the most innocent human children alive. 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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