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DC cops think educational DVD on constitutional rights is reason for a search warrant

December 9, 2011 - Andrea Johnson
Since when is it suspicious to know your rights?

In October Washington D.C. police raided Capitol Hemp, a DC store that sells hemp clothing, water pipes and a DVD entitled "Flex Your Rights: 10 Rules for Dealing with the Police." The grounds for the raid is that selling the legal water pipes, which can also be used for smoking pot, is against the law. Hemp products are also legal, though of course marijuana is not in most jurisdictions.

According to Reason magazine, the search warrant included this gem of a statement:

4. While your Affiant was looking at the smoking devices U/C [redacted] observed a DVD that was for sale entitled "10 Rules for Dealing with Police". The DVD gave the following listed topics that were covered as:

A. Deal with traffic stops, street stops and police at your door.

B. Know your rights and maintain your cool, and;

C. Avoid common police tricks and prevent humiliating searches.

Your Affiant notes that while this DVD is informative for any citizen, when introduced into a store that promotes the use of a controlled substance this DVD becomes a tool for deceiving law enforcement to keep from being arrested. The typical citizen would not need to know detailed information as to US Supreme Court case law regarding search and seizure because they are not transporting illegal substances in fear of being caught. "

In other words, people who aren't doing anything wrong or don't have anything to hide don't need to know their Fourth Amendment rights and should never have a problem with police searching their homes or vehicles. What a load of horse hooey.

The DVD in question is from a website called FlexYourRights.org that gives plain instruction on constitutional rights regarding search and seizure. I've watched portions of it on YouTube. One scene shows a young man pulled over during a traffic stop.

In one scene he is intimidated by the police officer, gives the cops attitude and ends up sitting handcuffed on the side of the road while the cops tear apart his car, damaging the laptop in his trunk. In the second scene, the kid pulls over, puts his hands on the wheel so they are in plain sight and waits for the officer to ask him for his license and registration.

The kid greets the officer but does not admit to speeding or to knowing why he has been pulled over. When the police officer asks to search his car, the kid calmly but firmly says: "I know you're just doing your job, Officer, and I have nothing to hide, but I don't consent to any searches, sir." The officer threatens to call in the drug dogs; the kid holds firm and asks "Are you detaining me or am I free to go?" A few minutes later, the officer hands the kid a ticket and the kid drives away, without having his car torn apart by the cop or the drug dogs.

Police need probable cause to search. People are not obligated to permit a search of a car or to let the cops into their homes without a warrant. Kids should be learning their basic constitutional rights and how to calmly and respectfully assert them in junior high and high school civics classes. It's more than a little outrageous that an educational DVD on exercising one's constitutional rights should be listed in a search warrant in our nation's capitol.

 
 

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