The ongoing war between America’s self-appointed heroes and the biker menace may have reached a new low of vileness and surreality during “Operation Simple Green” last week.
This episode from the domestic war on people who must be terrorists because they are not little puppies has all the elements of a great story. Unfortunately, no one will ever read that story because America has now become Vichy France. Which does not change the fact that even 15 years ago most Americans would have seen the raids as an absurd waste of taxes. Particularly during an “economic recovery” that now features worse numbers than the Great Depression.
What could have been accomplished by six detectives with cell phones and pool cars instead became an “operation” involving hundreds of militarized police, “news” releases, B-roll footage, invitation only press conferences, tables full of cuts and guns and a dozen, gloating, peacock politicians. The ATF, which has recently grown demure as a maiden, instigated and participated in the raids but chose to remain officially invisible. Eight days after the fact reporters still repeat the phrase “Operation Simple Green” as if it is the linguistic equivalent of “Gettysburg.”
Banal CrueltiesThe banal cruelties of this stunt have gone unreported. No talking head or general assignment reporter has yet had the simple decency or common sense to wonder why houses must be wrecked when they are searched. The indisputable fact is that these searches are not actually searches for anything but rather a form of extra-judicial punishment, decreed by lawless police, and they are unconstitutional.
These punishments are always inflicted on whole families because that makes them hurt worse than simply cuffing Daddy up and pistol whipping him in some back room. At one home, during “Operation Simple Green,” the punishment was inflicted on a young boy who was made to stand in his front yard in his underwear and one sock while the police wrecked his life. A compassionate neighbor who tried to bring the kid a bathrobe was waved off by the police commandos. That was simply and maliciously done to exacerbate the boy’s punishment and of course the police had already prepared a quiver full of excuses for this cruelty: Because the bathrobe might conceal a gun and because the kid then might get into a shootout with the cops. The police always have their stories straight and in a country that pats down five-year-olds at airports what the cops did to that kid last week has become the new meaning of “freedom.”
War On TerrorBut now, during the bleakest days of the “economic recovery,” someone might at least glance at the institutional greed evidenced by these raids. In the decades since George W. Bush declared “war on terror,” Congress has been passing out Easter baskets full of Krugerrands to police departments far and wide with instructions to use the money to buy cool toys. One of those cool toys deployed during “Operation Simple Green” in Santa Barbara was an 18,000 pound, $240,000, “Lenco Bearcat Special Purpose Vehicle.” (See photo above.) It was used to serve an indicia search warrant on the home of a 52-year-old Vago named Albert “Dragon Man” Perez.
Indicia searches are searches of the homes of motorcycle club members to find evidence that the search victim belongs to or may have once crossed paths with a motorcycle club – which is always something the police already know. Sometimes the indicia are patches but as often as not these indicators of affiliation are old calendars, souvenir tee-shirts, fading photos and other keepsakes. The searches are “general searches.” They are meant to punish and the warrants that allow them are unconstitutional, too. There has been no announcement yet, and there probably never will be, of the identity of the judge who issued this particular warrant. But he was probably a divorce judge and he was probably told the search was “exigent” because that is how these searches are usually arranged.
Look Kids War HeroesPerez was not arrested because he had not actually done anything illegal. There was nothing illegal in his home but the man’s alleged guilt and any contraband he might have been suspected of possessing were not the point.
What the search of Perez’s home was really about was a chance for local police to fire up their armored car and drive around in it as if they were a mounted patrol in Fallujah. Santa Barbara bought this ridiculous vehicle with a “Homeland Security” grant and when the city won it local police chief Cam Sanchez said the machine was a “life-saving” tool and a “reminder that the city is protected.”
“Preventative medicine is always the best medicine” the chief said at the time. “If it happens, we’ll be ready.” The chief did not elaborate about what “it” might be. Last week his actions made it clear that “it” was the residence in Santa Barbara of some guy who had patched with the Vagos.
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