Turning Americans into Snitches for the Police State: ‘See Something, Say Something’ and Community Policing

Friday, September 26, 2014 at 8:55 am by

This guest post was written by John Whitehead of The Rutherford Institute and was reprinted with permission.

“There were relatively few secret police, and most were just processing the information coming in. I had found a shocking fact. It wasn’t the secret police who were doing this wide-scale surveillance and hiding on every street corner. It was the ordinary German people who were informing on their neighbors.”  —Professor Robert Gellately

If you see something suspicious, says the Department of Homeland Security, say something about it to the police, call it in to a government hotline, or report it using a convenient app on your smart phone.

(If you’re a whistleblower wanting to snitch on government wrongdoing, however, forget about it—the government doesn’t take kindly to having its dirty deeds publicized and, God forbid, being made to account for them.)

For more than a decade now, the DHS has plastered its “See Something, Say Something” campaign on the walls of metro stations, on billboards, on coffee cup sleeves, at the Super Bowl, even on television monitors in the Statue of Liberty. Now colleges, universities and even football teams and sporting arenas are lining up for grants to participate in the program.

See_Something_Say_SomethingThis DHS slogan is nothing more than the government’s way of indoctrinating “we the people” into the mindset that we’re an extension of the government and, as such, have a patriotic duty to be suspicious of, spy on, and turn in our fellow citizens.

This is what is commonly referred to as community policing. Yet while community policing and federal programs such as “See Something, Say Something” are sold to the public as patriotic attempts to be on guard against those who would harm us, they are little more than totalitarian tactics dressed up and repackaged for a more modern audience as well-intentioned appeals to law and order and security.

The police state could not ask for a better citizenry than one that carries out its own policing. Read the rest of this entry »

Constitution in Crisis :: BORDC September Newsletter

Thursday, September 25, 2014 at 12:00 pm by

Constitution in Crisis

September 2014, Vol. 13 No. 09

LAPD detain black actress for prostitution, prompted by an interracial kiss 

Actress Daniele Watts, whose career includes roles in Django Unchained and Partners, was approached by police earlier this month in Los Angeles prompted by reports that she had kissed her white husband in public. After she declined to give police her identification, she was detained, although never arrested and ultimately released.

Watts refused to apologize for kissing  a white man. Many believe Watts was profiled and mistaken for a prostitute because she is black and her companion white. This incident–one of many–demonstrates the need for our legislature needs to take action to address racial profiling. It’s time to pass the End Racial Profiling Act.


 BORDC Analysis

Read the latest news & analysis from the People’s Blog for the Constitution

Have you read BORDC’s blog lately? The People’s Blog for the Constitution has attracted a growing audience. Featuring news & analysis beyond the headlines on a daily basis, it offers a great way to stay up to date and informed.

Highlights include:


Grassroots News

Grassroots updates

To get involved in any of these campaigns, please email the BORDC Organizing Team at organizing (at) bordc (dot) org. We’re eager to hear from you and help support your activism!

Highlights include:

BORDC in the News

Activists within BORDC sometimes appear in the news. We make it a point to spread our message through various media, including print, online, radio, and television. Check out what we’ve been up to. Highlights include:

  • September 2: Becca Bodner joined Next News Network to discuss police militarization in the wake of the protests in Ferguson.
  • September 5: Shahid Buttarparticipin a panel discussion about Berkeley, California Police Department’s request for tasers.
  • September 18: Shahid spoke on Uprising Radio about fear mongering with regard to ISIS and homeland security derailing proposed reforms to restore the Fourth Amendment in the face of dragnet NSA spying.

New Resources & Opportunities

  • BORDC Microgrants offer resources to enable grassroots action
  • Take action! Volunteer, organize, raise your voice—we have an opportunity that’s right for everyone.
  • Read our blog. We publish the latest civil liberties news, plus analysis beyond the headlines.
  • Support our work! Contribute securely online, call (413) 582-0110 to donate by phone, or mail a check or money order to Bill of Rights Defense Committee, 81 Bridge Street, Suite A, Nothampton, MA 01060
  • Follow BORDC on Facebook and TwitterConnect with other supporters and help build the movement.
  • Spread the word! Share this newsletter with your friends and family.

How fear mongering is destroying our rights

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 at 12:10 pm by
Last Thursday, BORDC’s executive director, Shahid Buttar, appeared on Uprising Radio. When speaking about fear mongering with regard to ISIS and homeland security, he said:

“It’s eerie to see the resurgence of many of the same dynamics in the public debate that we saw ten years ago, namely, fears of national security threats justifying overbroad counterterrorism policies…. There were very important reforms moving through Congress that have been all but derailed…due to the fear mongering about ISIS….

The fact of the matter is the FREEDOM act wouldn’t impact the NSA’s foreign signals intelligence capabilities at all. It would only keep [the NSA] from spying on Americans. The idea that somehow fears about ISIS should justify insulating the NSA from accountability for years of lies and deception to Congress and the American people — and documented abuses violating [legal limits on] its powers, and breaking the Federal statutes that were set up in the first place to keep it from doing these things — is preposterous. We should all expect much more from our public officials.”
Listen to the full interview here.

Cleveland coalition makes headway

Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at 5:20 pm by


Photo: members who participated in the workshop on September 21.

The Greater Cleveland Civil and Human Rights Coalition worked together for several years to build a diverse and strong movement for civil rights.  During past workshops the group agreed to convene for regular sessions for communication development, to share updates, resources and build community as recommended by BORDC staff.  It had been many months since the coalition met before the workshop led by George Friday on Sunday, September 21. Read the rest of this entry »

A vigil for change

Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at 11:05 am by

ferrellProtesters gathered together in Charlotte, North Caroline to address the depressing reality of police brutality against people of color. A year ago, a police officer was charged with shooting and killing a 24 year old unarmed black man, Jonathon Ferrell.

Jonathon was a former A&M University football player who moved to Charlotte a year prior to be with his fiancée. At the time of his shooting, he was working two jobs and had high hopes of returning back to school to receive his automotive engineering degree. The night of September 14th, Jonathon had been seeking assistance for a car accident when he was violently targeted. A woman who had been home alone with her baby was frightened and did not understand why Ferrell was knocking at her door at such a late hour. Ferrell left to seek aid elsewhere and the woman called the police. In the end, instead of receiving help from a person of the law, he ended up dead from multiple gunshot wounds. This shooting had no cause. Not only did the woman who called the police say nothing about Ferrell being threatening but he also made no violent move toward Officer Randall Kerrick. Read the rest of this entry »

BORDC honors Drew Hendricks with the September 2014 Patriot Award

Monday, September 22, 2014 at 3:25 pm by

In July of 2009 activists in Olympia Washington went public with the shocking revelation that an intelligence contractor hired by the U.S. Army named John Towery had infiltrated the antiwar group Olympia Port Militarization resistance. For almost two years Towery, known to activists as “John Jacob” had administered the groups email listserv, attended meetings and demonstrations and unsuccessfully attempted to coerce young college students to commit acts of violence. Towery’s true identity was discovered by several key members of the group after cop-watcher and civil liberties activist Drew Hendricks combed through thousands of pages of public records using a technique known as “cataloguing”.

At the time of the discovery, Olympia Port Militarization Resistance (OlyPMR) was engaged in an ongoing campaign of confrontational civil disobedience, peacefully using their bodies to blockade the movement of military equipment through the public Port of Olympia on its way to the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. The controversial protests swept the Pacific Northwest, seeing local actions at the ports of Aberdeen, Gray’s Harbor, Tacoma and Olympia.

In an exclusive interview with BORDC, Drew Hendricks explains how he discovered Towery, the impact the spying had on the Olympia antiwar community and how regular people can catalog public records themselves to defend against secret government spying.

Grassroots success stories

Sunday, September 21, 2014 at 8:33 am by

raices en tampa

A Victory against ICE

On September 11, 2014, the people of Raices en Tampa came together to organize two actions that finally got the attention of Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. They came together to “Stop ICE Holds” of immigrants that had been placed without a judge’s consent or degree.

Two days after they began, the police department gave in and decided to changed their policy to require adequate evidence and support from a judge prior to imposing a hold. This is a great step in combating and reforming unruly immigration enforcement.  When local police officials partake in ICE detainers, they are given power that lacks them direct oversight from ICE. This allows for officials to to detain individuals illegally.


black lives matter#BlackLivesMatter

#BlackLivesMatter is a new a trending social media campaign.  On September 5, 2014, a rally was organized at the University of Virginia to support and uphold the idea behind this phrase – protesting the violence that is continually and unjustifiably pitted against African Americans.

The Black Student Alliance, students, faculty, staff and community members gathered to bring the much needed attention to the police brutality, racism and  “representations of blacks as athletes or criminals”. They marched together, reading poems and names of those who have been wrongfully killed. It was a peaceful protest but one that shows that Ferguson though be quieting down, the nation is not finished.

Tell Congress to stop militarizing law enforcement

Friday, September 19, 2014 at 11:41 am by

teaser_get-involved_write-congress-300x228Just this past Tuesday, two members of Congress introduced bipartisan legislation that would serve to hinder the current trend of over-militarizing our local police forces. Representatives Raul Labrador and Hank Johnson  presented the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act of 2014, the passive of which would be a step that would keep tensions between citizens and communities down.

This act would essentially help to limit the national government’s ability to send military grade weapons to local communities. The incidences of police brutality against the public and the media in Ferguson have been eye-opening. They demonstrate that our police are no longer acting as protectors but as military soldiers, suppressing free speech and grass roots activism. Labrador and Johnson are taking the first steps to combat this problem but we must show our support. Contact your representatives today to make sure your voice and beliefs are being heard.

3 ways to celebrate Constitution Day

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 at 8:35 am by

constitution day

Today is Constitution Day. On September 17, 1787, our Founding Fathers ratified our Constitution, which provided for life, liberty, freedom, and prosperity. When you donate to BORDC, you are supporting those Constitutional rights we hold so dear.

Want to celebrate Constitution Day this year?  Here are three ways how:

1. Urge the passage of the End Racial Profiling Act.

This past month has brought this nation a lot of turmoil. Shootings of young people of color have become commonplace. Rather than investigate these tragedies, local police agencies have further violated the rights of communities that organize peacefully to raise their concerns, compounding abuses of the Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments with First Amendment violations.

Write to Congress and let them know that equal protection is important. BORDC has been working on this issue for years, and we need your help.

2. Stop the NSA from spying on us.

It seems as though we are repeating the early days of the Bush administration. Fear mongering is rampant. The NSA continues to spy on you, and your family, invading your privacy and undermining your freedom of thought. The CIA is undermining human rights principles that have stood since we established them 50 years ago. More than ever, our country needs grassroots activism.  More than ever, we need support from people like you. You can also help out by signing this letter to Congress to express your concerns.

3. Start a local campaign.

BORDC is happy to work with you to help you start your own local campaign. Are you concerned about the state of your constitutional rights? Do you want to recruit friends & neighbors to join in the fight? You can get started by using our Grassroots Toolkit to start a campaign of your own. And also remember that donating to BORDC helps us help others.

Black actress detained for kissing her White companion: is an end to racial profiling in sight?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 at 8:30 am by


Actress Daniele Watts was accused of prostitution this weekend after kissing her companion. A Los Angeles Police Officer assumed she was a prostitute because she, a Black woman, kissed her companion, a White man, in public. In the meantime, law enforcement agencies are still trying to figure out how and why Michael Brown was shot and killed. Even now, nearly six years after his inauguration, people still can’t stop talking about President Obama’s race.

Our society is fraught with racial tensions, bigotry and everything in between. What are our lawmakers doing to help? First introduced in 2001 by Sen. Russell Feingold (D. Wisc) and Rep. Jon Coners (D. Mich), the End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA) has been both popularized and unreasonably shot down in 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2010. So it is no surprise that in the wake of recent  tragedies that people are once more pushing for its passage. But will it finally come to be? Or will it once again succumb as a piece of legislation that is forever wanted but never actualized? Read the rest of this entry »