Friday, June 6, 2008

Papers, please

The Washington Post is reporting that D.C. Police will begin using checkpoints, asking drivers for ID, and refusing entry to the Northeast D.C. neighborhood of Trinidad.

D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier announced a military-style checkpoint yesterday to stop cars this weekend in a Northeast Washington neighborhood inundated by gun violence, saying it will help keep criminals out of the area.

Starting on Saturday, officers will check drivers' identification and ask whether they have a "legitimate purpose" to be in the Trinidad area, such as going to a doctor or church or visiting friends or relatives. If not, the drivers will be turned away.

The Neighborhood Safety Zone initiative is the latest crime-fighting attempt by Lanier and Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, who have been under pressure from residents to stop a recent surge in violence. Last weekend was especially bloody, with seven slayings, including three in the Trinidad area.


The checkpoint will stop vehicles approaching the 1400 block of Montello Avenue NE, a section of the Trinidad neighborhood that has been plagued with homicides and other violence. Police will search cars if they suspect the presence of guns or drugs, and will arrest people who do not cooperate, under a charge of failure to obey a police officer, officials said.

So, in our Nation's capital, citizens have to show identification and have a "legitimate reason" to move around in public. And you'll be arrested if you don't "cooperate"?
"My reaction is, welcome to Baghdad, D.C.," said Arthur Spitzer, legal director for the ACLU's Washington office. "I mean, this is craziness. In this country, you don't have to show identification or explain to the police why you want to travel down a public street."
Even though D.C. has some wonderful monuments and memorials, and amazing museums like the Smithsonian and its Air & Space Museum, the city is overrun by politicians who have no trouble playing fast and loose with the Constitution. Witness the total ban on operable firearms. Or their draconian knife laws. This anti-American stop-and-search program in our Nation's capital -- the supposed workplace of hundreds of our elected servants sworn to defend the Constitution -- would be merely ironic, if it weren't so sadly in keeping with D.C.'s long-standing lack of respect for that very same Constitution.

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