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Terry Bressi's long saga
April 12, 2005 10:33 AM   Subscribe

Terry Bressi's long saga
"I was stopped, threatened with lethal force, dragged out of my vehicle, and detained for several hours for no reason - other than requesting to know what law authorized the police to stop me and demand ID after admitting I wasn't suspected of violating any law and I wasn't being detained. Instead of answering my inquiries, the 'peace officers' preferred to initiate force against me."
posted by trharlan (59 comments total)

 
I think to connect a cop asking for your drivers license to the whole secret police "papers please" thing is just a bunch of paranoid conspiracy bullshit. Show the cop your license, move on.
posted by boymilo at 10:52 AM on April 12, 2005


But, hey, as Dios says, you're allowed to travel in the USA without identification, right? No loss of freedoms this past six years or anything, eh?
posted by five fresh fish at 11:02 AM on April 12, 2005


boymilo ... the problem with that is if they have the right to do this once, they have the right to do it at all times, constantly ... in other words, we could become a nation full of checkpoints where we have to identify ourselves on a daily basis
posted by pyramid termite at 11:02 AM on April 12, 2005


But it's not going to become a "nation full of checkpoints." They're not going to do it "at all times, constantly" because that would be inefficient and pointless. And "if they have the right to do this once"? You mean they should ban roadblocks and checkpoints? Oh, well, the bank robbers got away. Let's all go home....
posted by boymilo at 11:14 AM on April 12, 2005


I think this guy is a major pain in the ass. He instigated this whole thing to cause a problem and make his paranoid fantasy come true. If you look the links he posted you will see that he belongs to some tinfoil hat fear group that believes we are just a few days away from being rounded up into camps. And while it's true that you are free to travel without identification in the U.S. you are not free to drive a car without identification. If the cop had asked to search his car without a warrant or probable cause I could understand his refusal to comply. However, if a cop merely asks to see your driver's license at a legal checkpoint (and the courts have found them to be legal) refusing and causing a whole scene is just asking for trouble. Terrance Bressi asked for it and I have no sympathy for him.
posted by waltb555 at 11:22 AM on April 12, 2005


People like Terry are a dime-a-dozen... and "the world is out to get them".
posted by Witty at 11:25 AM on April 12, 2005


WTF? Some dumbass gets an attitude with the cops and they fuck him over for it. Cry me a river, activist.
posted by puke & cry at 11:25 AM on April 12, 2005


boymilo: You mean they should ban roadblocks and checkpoints? Oh, well, the bank robbers got away. Let's all go home....

I'm not especially sympathetic to Bressi, but that is a straw man argument. Obviously, nobody is saying we should bad roadblocks and checkpoints. The argument that Bressi is making is that, in this particular instance, he was illegally detained.

Bressi himself makes some straw man arguments of his own, such as:

It would appear that it is now unlawful to drive home from work these days without getting proper clearance from the local authorities.

No, it would appear that police officers get irritated when people don't comply with their requests. The legality of their requests is, of course, another issue altogether.

Anyhow, this raises the question "is it, indeed, illegal to require us to show our licenses if we are not suspected of a crime?" I honestly don't know. I've always assumed that if a police officer asked to see my ID, I was legally compelled to show it. I have no facts to back up this assumption.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:29 AM on April 12, 2005


What's Terry's MeFi handle?
posted by dhoyt at 11:30 AM on April 12, 2005


walt,

You're actually not free to travel without identification. You can't take a train, you can't take a plane, you can't drive, and you can't walk. You also can't get a hotel room (actually, you can't even get one without a credit card anymore!).

The best part is how it all comes from "save the children"...gotta keep the kids from drinking, gotta force them to show an ID...and what happens when the kids grow up?

Inertia.
posted by effugas at 11:33 AM on April 12, 2005


I drive through the Tohono O'odham reservation once in a while and have never encountered a problem. I agree that if you refuse to show your i.d. to an officer you might run into some trouble. That area is a hot-bed for illegal immigrants passing through and it's a given that if you are stopped at a checkpoint you will need to identify yourself ~ duh!
posted by Guerilla at 11:34 AM on April 12, 2005


You are not free to travel without identification whether or not you are driving a car; see Nevada v. Hiibel.

Random roadblocks are a recent development; they were repeatedly found unconstitutional by the Supremes for years before the court changed its mind in, IIRC, the 80s. It hasn't always been this way and it doesn't have to be this way.

And waltb555, the court found this checkpoint to be illegal.

But it's not going to become a "nation full of checkpoints." They're not going to do it "at all times, constantly" because that would be inefficient and pointless.

Yup, that's sure stopped police state throughout history, that inefficiency and pointlessness.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 11:38 AM on April 12, 2005


The fact that they asked to see his driver's license while he was driving a car doesn't seem all that unusual to me.
posted by Uncle Ira at 11:51 AM on April 12, 2005


People like Terry are a dime-a-dozen... and "the world is out to get them".

Well, of course it is: you get a whole dime for every dozen you bring in to the reclamation center.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 11:54 AM on April 12, 2005


I think since the Hibbel (Hibbert?) case, you are required to provide ID on demand. Put another way: When the nice cop says "your papers, please" (with or without probable cause) you show ID or go to jail. What country does that sound like?

Checkpoints are not always legal. The court carved out a very narrow space for DWI checkpoints.

The important question here is:
Can any citizen be stopped for any reason (like maybe the type of bumperstickers you have) by any law enforcment agent?

By the way, I seem to recall this kind of checkpoint/traffic stop being used as a vote suppression tactic during election 2004.
posted by bashos_frog at 11:55 AM on April 12, 2005


this guy's a Christian Patriot (aka Constitutionalist aka Militia Movement aka Freemen) activist.

His links page connects to Devvy Kidd's web page where we read:

"Terri Bressi was a top coordinator for Bob Schulz' Freedom Drive 2002. As National Coordinator for that effort, I had the opportunity to speak and work with Terri. "


Devvy Kidd is a notorious wingnut whack job. Dig a little deeper and you find right wing tax resisters (like Bob Schulz) and Posse Comitatus. I'm sure you'll find these loons endorsing things like Fully Informed Jury Association (jury nullification), The Citizen's Rulebook (a copy here - warning it's a geocites site)

The tip-off was Terry's inability to state either the facts or the law clearly.

This is a bogus post and Terry Bressi is the equivalent of a troll.

Sorry, trharlan, but you've been conned.
posted by warbaby at 12:09 PM on April 12, 2005


You also can't get a hotel room (actually, you can't even get one without a credit card anymore!).

Yes you can. Maybe not the nice places, but you can still get a room with cash and no ID. (Is it really illegal?)

I think since the Hibbel (Hibbert?) case...

Hiibel. (I only remember cuz it's spelled so darn funny.)

Judging by previous threads, people don't care. Some liberties aren't as important as others, apparently.

I'm all for jury nullification. I'm gonna spread this site far and wide. Thanks!

the highest and best function of the jury is not, as many think, to dispense punishment to fellow citizens guilty of breaking the law, but rather to protect fellow citizens from tyrannical prosecutions and bad laws imposed by a power-hungry government.

who can argue with that?
posted by mrgrimm at 12:11 PM on April 12, 2005


I, personally, went to jail because I refused to show a cop my ID. I was walking on the sidewalk, not breaking any law. I'm still pretty pissed.

There are good cops out there, to be sure, but many, if not most, are in it to satisfy their own egos. "To protect and serve" has become "to bully and intimidate".

Fuck 'em.
posted by LordSludge at 12:15 PM on April 12, 2005


Why is Jury Nullification such a looney idea, warbaby?
posted by dr_dank at 12:19 PM on April 12, 2005


Hiibel doesn't say, by itself, that you can be arrested for failing to provide ID on demand. It does say that states can pass laws requiring that you do so (as Nevada did). Not all states have, and there is no such federal law.

The Citizens' Rulebook is fairly cool and the FIJA folks make good sense.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 12:22 PM on April 12, 2005


I think this guy is a major pain in the ass. He instigated this whole thing to cause a problem and make his paranoid fantasy come true. If you look the links he posted you will see that he belongs to some tinfoil hat fear group that believes we are just a few days away from being rounded up into camps.

If she didn't want to be raped, she shouldn't have dressed like that.
posted by delmoi at 12:26 PM on April 12, 2005


Riding my bike in NYC I was stopped by a DHS agent (who didn't identify himself as such, I had happened to see a bunch of white cars with DHS logos on them parked nearby) at the entrance the to Manhattan Bridge bike path and was 'asked' to allow my bag to be searched. I asked what would happen if I refused and was told that I didn't want to know. I asked if they were searching all the bags and I was told to open my bag 'right now.' I asked what law justified this search and was told that 'I didn't need to know,' with a good dose of contempt.

I allowed the search as a friend had recently been jailed for three days for no reason during the RNC convention and I didn't want to put my family (wife and kid) through that. The guy barely looked in my bag for a second and told me to 'get going.'

So there you go. An officer who didn't identify himself and refused to cite what authority he was operating under threatened me with unnamed consequences if I didn't allow him to perform an illegal search. I'm pretty sure that we are entering a show-your-papers state. Maybe not next year but in 50 more years without something working against this bullshit we'll be there.
posted by n9 at 12:26 PM on April 12, 2005


mrgrimm, meet your new friend Red Beckman

ah, yes. Jury nullification. The lynch mob's best defense.

posted by warbaby at 12:28 PM on April 12, 2005


An officer who didn't identify himself and refused to cite what authority he was operating under threatened me with unnamed consequences if I didn't allow him to perform an illegal search.

But don't you feel so much safer from terr'ists?
posted by clevershark at 12:28 PM on April 12, 2005


I understand that Hiibel's holding is narrower than that, IshmaelGraves. It says that in the context of a Terry stop (which must be based on "a law enforcement officer?'s reasonable suspicion that a person may be involved in criminal activity"), the target of the Terry stop can be required to identify himself. If there was no reasonable suspicion to instigate the stop, then you cannot be forced to show ID. Since it sounds like the cops here had no particular basis for stopping Bressi, Hiibel does not control.

And who cares if Bressi is some kind of right wing activist? That has no bearing on the strength of his case or the question of whether or not the police conduct in question was illegal. If only test cases with sympathetic plaintiffs made it to court, the 1960s criminal procedure revolution never would have happened.
posted by amber_dale at 12:30 PM on April 12, 2005


Growing up in the United States, I've unfortunately learned a general rule: do not fuck with the cops.

They have a shotgun hardon for a billyclub beatdown, and I want no part of that.
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 12:30 PM on April 12, 2005


Actually, the Hiibel case said that you have to identify yourself, not that you have to carry ID. Identifying yourself is as simple a matter as stating your name, which Hiibel never did.
posted by grouse at 12:30 PM on April 12, 2005


They're not going to do it "at all times, constantly" because that would be inefficient and pointless.

It would be inefficient and pointless. And since when has that stopped any totalitarian? You must have never been to the former Soviet Bloc or to Eastern Europe before the wall came down. Lots and lots of pointless inefficiency there.
posted by tkchrist at 12:33 PM on April 12, 2005


Living every day near the Mexican border, you find that you're life starts to much more closely resemble life in a "police state" than you had once thought would ever be possible in America. I live a few minutes from where this happened, and although I agree with the previous posts that assert that this guy, Bressi, is listing toward the right-wing fanatic side of the equation, that doesn't change the fact that living here in AZ, in close proximity to the border, means you're rights aren't treated with the same reverance as they might be elsewhere.

The "War on Terror" has only worsened an already terrible situation. Should you be required to show a drivers license when asked, sure, but I put to you the idea that here in the "war zone" we're asked to present "our papers" much more frequently, than the average citizen. I think people around here get fed up with it. Everything is done in the name of stopping "illegals", drugs, and terrorists - and maybe those are good reasons, but I'm not willing to give up my freedom for those reasons. You cannot drive from Tombstone, AZ up to Tucson without having to drive through a check point at which point they can choose to break you down, and I mean all the way down - dogs, mirrors, whole nine yards. This can happen at their (Border Patrol, state police, etc) whim and has no rhyme nor reason. This type of treatment is DEFINITELY set up on a discriminatory basis. If you're skin is slightly darker than the next guy's, you're getting pulled, and that's all there is to it. I think people who live in other places around the country can't possibly understand just how bad it's gotten here, and what's even scarier is that most people are getting to the point where they're giving up and just accepting it. Being from the East coast orginially, I know that I had no idea how bad it was until I moved out here and saw it for myself. I think the average person, right-wing fanaticists aside, would be pretty apalled at how things work around here.

When was the last time they put up a check point like that on the New Jersey Turnpike?
posted by Egregious_Philbin at 12:36 PM on April 12, 2005


Also, apperantly all the criminal charges against him were dropped.
posted by delmoi at 12:37 PM on April 12, 2005


The underlying problem with jury nullification is that it totally abolishes equality before the law - which is the essential bullwark of minority rights.

If you really like the Citizen's Rulebook, go read the fine print about the 13th and 14th amendments and explain that to the rest of us.

Cops being assholes doesn't make white supremacists admirable.
posted by warbaby at 12:43 PM on April 12, 2005


grouse is right. Name != ID.
posted by Snyder at 12:47 PM on April 12, 2005


While he seems to have been looking for trouble by refusing to show his license, if the roadblock was unlawful Mr Bressi (nutjob or not) is doing the right thing by challenging it.
posted by cbrody at 12:50 PM on April 12, 2005


Speaking of constant pointless and inefficient checkpoints, Israel?
posted by Calast at 12:52 PM on April 12, 2005


The statute at issue in Hiibel only requires you to state your name; it does not require a show of ID. AFAIK, the Supreme Court ruling left open the question of whether or not you can be compelled to show ID in addition to stating your name; I don't know how (or if) lower courts have ruled on this since Hiibel was decided.

Additionally, you cannot be required to identify yourself (by whatever means) unless the request for identification is "reasonably related" to the circumstances justifying the stop. I assume this would basically always be the case, but in roadblocks set up for e.g. a bank robbery, where you're just looking for someone who fits the physical description of the robbers, it might not be.

The Just Cause Law Collective has published a nice little handbook on how to handle these types of encounters with law enforcement, detailing what your rights are when you're detained or arrested, and how to unambiguously assert them.

(on preview, yeah, ditto grouse and Snyder)
posted by yami_mcmoots at 12:54 PM on April 12, 2005


They're not going to do it "at all times, constantly" because that would be inefficient and pointless.

And the government would never do anything inefficient or pointless.
posted by c13 at 1:08 PM on April 12, 2005


Checkpoints are not always legal. The court carved out a very narrow space for DWI checkpoints.

I wouldn't be surprised to find an exception for this one too, much as I hate checkpoints.

There are agreements with Mexico that allow Mexican nationals easier entry into the border region; I can't recall how far into the US this extends. If you want to go outside the border region (and are Mexican) you need visas and such, to go into the border area you need less stringent permissions / documentation, or just ID. The practical upshot of this is that there's secondary border control a bit interior to the US to deal with this grey area.

They were running the border patrol checkpoint north of Tombstone before 9/11/01. There's also a permanent stop along I-10 and another on the main road west out of Alamogordo / White Sands (unless they've closed them).
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:17 PM on April 12, 2005


Living every day near the Mexican border, you find that you're life starts to much more closely resemble life in a "police state" than you had once thought would ever be possible in America.

Given that there's something like, what, a quarter million illegal immigrants being caught each year (month? day?) crossing the Mexico border, it's not surprising.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:42 PM on April 12, 2005


Don't tread on me.
posted by chaz at 1:46 PM on April 12, 2005


Why is Jury Nullification such a looney idea?

Jury nullification is just fine for those cases where the jury can reasonably believe that the legislature would have carved out an exception for a specific, rare instance, if they would have forseen it. If a person breaks into a closed drugstore to get medical supplies to save the life of a person who has been severely injured in an accident, for example, a jury would be completely justified in finding him innocent, even if he were technically guilty of breaking and entering. Jury nullification, I believe, is appropriate in such instances.

The problem with the way ultralibertarians and some others want to use jury nullification is that they want to use it not merely to prevent a miscarriage of justice in the rare "extraordinary circumstances which the legislature did not forsee" type of cases, but in any cases where they don't like that particular law. For example, there are some who advocate finding people innocent via jury nullification in any drug posession case, regardless of the circumstances. As much as I might agree that drug posession laws are far too harsh, I do not condone replacing the will of an elected legislature with that of twelve random, unelected people. Just because I agree with the twelve random people more than the elected legislature on particular issues does not mean democracy should be perverted in that way.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:57 PM on April 12, 2005


I, personally, went to jail because I refused to show a cop my ID. I was walking on the sidewalk, not breaking any law. I'm still pretty pissed.

Curious -- what did they charge you under? Or what non-charge premise did they use? And how long were you in there?
posted by davejay at 2:07 PM on April 12, 2005


Well said, DevilsAdvocate.

Just because I agree with the twelve random people more than the elected legislature on particular issues does not mean democracy should be perverted in that way.

I guess it depends on how much you think democracy has already been perverted. *rimshot*

I have no problem perverting democracy, as long as it's my perversion. *is this thing on?*
posted by mrgrimm at 2:38 PM on April 12, 2005


New York City, April 9th, approximately 2pm.

On Broadway and Houston st.

6 Cops, 2 squad cars. Stopped just about every other car and asked for license and registration.

Boymilo, and your point is?
posted by Freen at 2:40 PM on April 12, 2005


amber_dale, I thought the premise of Hiibel was that the stop in question was not a Terry stop?

At any rate, yes, I stand corrected, the law under which Hiibel was charged requires you to identify yourself, not to provide a physical ID.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 3:45 PM on April 12, 2005


Jury nullification got the criminalisation of abortion thrown out in Canada. After they put Dr. Henry Morgentaler on trial for performing abortions three times (between '89 and '91, if memory serves), and each time had a jury refuse to find him guilty, they decided that public opinion was against the criminalisation of abortion.

So, it's not all just a bunch of nasty racists getting lynch mobs off.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 3:57 PM on April 12, 2005


IshmaelGraves, it was a Terry stop. Hiibel had just been involved in a rather heated argument, and the police had reasonable suspicion of assault.
posted by yami_mcmoots at 3:58 PM on April 12, 2005


boymilo: They're not going to do it "at all times, constantly" because that would be inefficient and pointless.

"At random times, continually" would actually be much worse than "at all times, constantly". Think intermittent reinforcement.

I know enough people, personally, who've been screwed over by the cops that I often wonder why we trust them at all. I myself was once harangued and threatened with jail for the crime of having my license plate stolen. I have a friend who was hammered and battered down in the street, in front of witnesses, by a cop with a history of abusing prisoners (which includes repeatedly Tasing a mentally handicapped woman in the genitalia); the local cops banded around him, lined up their own crooked witnesses, and made it into a game of "they said / them other theys said" -- 'cept all their 'theys' were cops and cop's relatives...
posted by lodurr at 4:41 PM on April 12, 2005


davejay: "Public Intoxication", which is defined by city statute as being a) drunk in public (I sorta was, 6-7 beers in 4 hours, 200lb man), and b) an imminent threat to oneself or the public (I clearly wasn't; it was never even suggested that I was -- I was walking quietly home on the deserted sidewalk, not 200 feet from my front door). Here's the law verbatim from the city website (please note the definition of "intoxicated condition"):
    Sec. 24-219. Public intoxication. It shall be unlawful for any person to be in an intoxicated condition while in or on any street, sidewalk, alley or other public place in the city. "Intoxicated condition" as used here shall mean a situation or circumstance evidencing material impairments to mental or physical faculties, due to the ingestion of alcohol or other intoxicant, in such a manner as to threaten or impede the safety of the person or of the public, to menace the public tranquility, or to deter by the person's presence the public's reasonable enjoyment of the public space.
I only spent the night in jail, which honestly wasn't that horrible (probably cuz I'm 6'4"), but the principle of it *really* chaps my hide. It happened over 6 months ago, and to this day I just want 10 minutes alone with that fucker.

I'm 34 years old, and this is the fourth time a cop has gotten belligerent like that with me, literally trying to start a fight with a mellow but non-submissive guy. But it's the first time I've been cuffed and stuffed. It's not enough that we obey their laws and they enforce them -- they demand we "respect their authoritah".

Skull-fuck 'em.

Happy to give all the gory details if anyone's interested, but this ain't my personal blog...
posted by LordSludge at 6:31 PM on April 12, 2005


I'd love to know what'd happen to someone like me who spent 2001-2004 without any form of identification available whatsoever.

The only cop who stopped me in that time (for some pretty gratuitous jaywalking) was, fortunately, of the nicer variety.
posted by Ryvar at 12:19 AM on April 13, 2005


Think intermittent reinforcement.

really ... i went south of three rivers, mi last weekend and saw signs announcing that this was a "selective enforcement zone" ... whatever that means ... it didn't sound good ...

I myself was once harangued and threatened with jail for the crime of having my license plate stolen.

i myself had my license plate stolen and was greeted with a big "so what?" by the dispatcher ... i guess they only care when they want to harass you over it
posted by pyramid termite at 1:20 AM on April 13, 2005


Or maybe they realized there was fuck-all they could do?
posted by Snyder at 1:59 AM on April 13, 2005


".....Maybe not next year but in 50 more years without something working against this bullshit we'll be there...."

More like 5-15 years
posted by fujikyoko at 5:54 AM on April 13, 2005


Allright, I'll admit that there are occasions where law enforcement officials abuse their powers or move past the individual rights boundary line. There are bad cops. But there are also bad pastry chefs, bad mechanics, and bad doctors. So a bunch of personal anecdotes about run-ins with the cops don't illustrate jack. So when a cop asks for your ID, you show it to him, and you move on. To turn the incident into an example of how the entire justice system is corrupt and power crazy and how our country is doomed to become a police state is, again, paranoid conspiracy bull.
posted by boymilo at 7:26 AM on April 13, 2005


A bad pastry chef can't stick me in jail. He might wank on my sticky bun but you know what? I don't have to eat it.

A bad mechanic can't beat me or my friends down and get away with it. He might charge me extra for work done but you know what? I don't have to go that mechanic if he has a poor reputation.

A bad doctor can't ruin my future by putting me in prison for no good reason. He might misdiagnose an illness I have but you know what? I can get a second opinion.

Fuck cops who feel that they have the right to mess with my freedom.
posted by longbaugh at 7:37 AM on April 13, 2005


So, boymilo, your advice is... to cease vigilantly identifying risks to our rights? Or what?

The stupidest comments in any discussion of civil rights are the ones that run along the lines of "shut up, you are just paranoid." What is the intent of these comments? They all contain pretty much the same content and zero information. One suspects it's just whistling in the dark.
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:08 AM on April 13, 2005


My main point is that a cop asking for your ID is not a threat to your civil rights. It's blowing the thing out of proportion.

What is the intent of these comments? They all contain pretty much the same content and zero information.

What is your criteria for content? What information am I to share?
posted by boymilo at 8:49 AM on April 13, 2005


My main point is that a cop asking for your ID is not a threat to your civil rights.

How can you possibly say something so blatantly untrue?

If you have done nothing illegal, and there is no cause for a cop to suspect you of involvement in a crime, demanding ID IS the very definition of a violation of your civil rights.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:57 AM on April 13, 2005


"and there is no cause for a cop to suspect you of involvement in a crime"

How do you know what the cop has cause to suspect? If the cop has to offer some justification, and anyone could choose to refuse to show id, I believe the officers ability to apprehend criminals would be severely compromised. And if you did nothing wrong, why is it a problem to show the cop a drivers license?

I have a feeling were coming down on two sides of a very fine line in the middle of a much larger grey area.
posted by boymilo at 5:33 PM on April 13, 2005


C'mon, man. You're walking down the street minding your own business and a cop comes up and demands you show identification. You don't think that's a presumption of guilt? You don't think that's a little wrong?

I don't see any grey area here at all: if I'm not directly implicated in a crime, the cops can go screw.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:34 PM on April 13, 2005


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