Friday, June 28, 2013

Welcome To the Police State: Charlottesville Bottled Water Edition

Six plain-clothes ABC agents jump some UVA girls--who only had bottled water--at night in the Harris Teeter parking lot. They pull their guns and start screaming at the girls to get out of their vehicle. One jumps on the hood of the vehicle, waving his gun. Girls panic and drive away, thinking they are being attacked by lunatics. And, well, it kind of looks like that's exactly what happened... Girls immediately call the police, and immediately pull over when the blue lights go on. Driver gets thrown in jail, largely for "grazing" two agents with her vehicle while trying to get away, and for evading cops.

Let's hope the shit hits the fan, these agents get the boot, and the girls win a big-ass civil suit against ABC.

What a bunch of bullshit.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

These police are complete idiots!

They are making the citizens unsafe and need to be fired!

4:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My first reaction on reading this story was amazement that VA ABC even had armed agents. What other properly administrative state bodies have people roaming about with guns? The professions licensing commission? Standards and measures? Not the DEQ, for damn sure.

Once I looked this up, the reason became clear: the armed enforcement element of ABC was added in 1934 as part of the measure to take up where federal prohibition left off. That element then spent a good 60 years busting stills out in Pulaski County et. al. Two agents have even been killed in line of duty, albeit the last in 1950. Now clearly rooting stills from out the coves is not a growth field, but the armed ABC agents still have a budget to maintain, maybe even a DHS grant to justify. So, they go out to enforce ID laws with the same organization they used to use to chase moonshiner gangs.

One of the morals of this story is that drug legalization is an important part of ending the abuses of the drug war, but so too is drawing down its militant bureaucracy. If we get federal drug legalization but leave the structure of the DEA in place, then we can expect them to enforce the drug regulatory regime the way they enforced prohibition: with midnight dog shooting raids on people who forget to file their growers license on time. In localities that use drug searches as a pretext for generalized harassment, age checks will serve the same function. Prohibition worked to generate paramilitary policing, but organizational culture will maintain it, as this incident well illustrates.

3:50 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Thanks for this comment, A.

This strikes me as a very important point.

9:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is some good news here. The charges have been dropped, and ABC will now require having at least one uniformed police officer in similar operations in the future. Not sure it's enough, but at least they are trying to avoid similar incidents in the future.

4:57 PM  

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