[Ugarte gives exit visas to Rick for safe keeping]
November 25, 2005 2:04 PM   Subscribe

First they take Ugarte and then she walks in. On the 9th of December 2005, Deborah Davis will be arraigned in U.S. District Court in a case that will determine whether people must show "papers" whenever police demand them. Unlike Dudley Hiibel (discussed on mefi last year) who had (arguably) caused a disturbance meriting police attention, Deb was just riding the bus when she was "welcomed" to the Denver Federal Center.
posted by Smedleyman (35 comments total)
Nice shiny red apple to those who can ID the first quote without looking.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:06 PM on November 25, 2005

What ever happened with Dudley Hiibel?
posted by tiamat at 2:16 PM on November 25, 2005

Everything has changed since 9/11. You're either with us or you're with the terrorists. United we stand. Let's roll. Support our troops.

I hope that's made this situation a little clearer.
posted by leftcoastbob at 2:19 PM on November 25, 2005

Last I heard they ruled against Hiibel. The high court said IDs can be required in police stops. Which I'm viscerally against, but I get the reasoning for. The difference here though is Deb Davis wasn't suspected of wrongdoing.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:30 PM on November 25, 2005

I find it interesting that this happened on a public bus. The courts have already decided that it isn't legal to pull over random cars -- or every car -- for ID checks. They need probable cause. Is the subtext that the government wants to control the movements of poor people?
posted by ilsa at 2:30 PM on November 25, 2005

The interesting thing is that she wasn't asked for her ID initially by a police officer - a security guard asked for her ID. When she refused, then the security guard called the cops.

So, I'm curious - all it takes to get someone arrested is for me to take a job as a security guard?
posted by FormlessOne at 2:50 PM on November 25, 2005

Is the subtext that the government wants to control the movements of poor people?

Not so much subtext as text, really.
posted by stet at 3:02 PM on November 25, 2005

The high court said IDs can be required in police stops.

Actually, they only said that you have to give your name when asked. Which is still Not Good.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:05 PM on November 25, 2005

I am finding it hard to express how important I think this case is for you Yanks.
If you let this go without taking a stand, I cannot see how you would ever make it back to where you were pre 9/11.

If an American citizen has no freedom from arrest when you have done nothing wrong, and have not been accused of a crime, and are not suspected of a crime......

I do not know how else to make the point. You will have lost.
posted by TheFeatheredMullet at 3:22 PM on November 25, 2005


Good point. See the report of the arresting officer, here.

From that report, it seems pretty clear that she hadn't broken the law to begin with. After discussing the situation with Davis, the officer left the bus, apparently taken aback by the idea that somebody would refuse to submit to authority, then returned:

"I then re-entered the bus and informed her she was now being asked to present identification to a law enforcement official in the capacity of my job for identification purposes."

She wasn't legally required to show her ID to the security guard (the officer refers to him as a "contract security officer" in the report), but this cop really wanted to teach her what her place was. So he modified the language of his request slightly, attempting to make refusal a crime... It's just the old disobeying-a-lawful-order trick, except the order doesn't seem to have been lawful in the first place.

In short, you don't need to be a security guard. Just get any job, wait for a situation in which you think a cop would agree that you're the authority, then get pissed off when somebody refuses to submit to your dumb request... The cops will be pissed, too, and will happily make the person into a criminal for you.
posted by dsword at 3:29 PM on November 25, 2005

Hm. Clicking through to the "get the facts" page, we see:
The bus she rides crosses the property of the Denver Federal Center...
And there you have your case, folks. This isn't going to be framed (by the prosecution) as "you must show ID upon command everywhere", but only on federal property that's arguably "threatened" or whatever since "everything changed," etc etc. Not that I would agree with the prosecution on that issue, but it's a little more subtle than the bulk of this ACLU post would have you believe.
posted by rkent at 3:29 PM on November 25, 2005

Feathered, from my perspective, we already did. When the first US citizen was classed as an 'enemy combatant' and held without charge and without access to a lawyer, the transition to a police state was officially declared.

It doesn't show its teeth that much for most people yet, but the police were already playing games to take people's things in drug busts by, get this, charging the materials used.

Once upon a time, you couldn't face double jeopardy for a crime.... you could go to jail or pay a fine, but not, in general, both. Now when drugs are 'involved' (and there have been documented cases of cops planting drugs), they put YOU in jail, and then file suit, "City of Oakland v. John Smith's Corvette'.. and take the car it was in, too. Or the house.

When we started allowing that kind of abuse because of the War on Drugs.... in my opinion, that's when the slide into bondage started. The American populace wasn't up in arms, so they kept going. The suspension of habeas corpus is just another step on a not-terribly-long road to enslaving the American people.

Willingly, I might add. Most American citizens are happily holding out their hands and asking for the cuffs.
posted by Malor at 3:36 PM on November 25, 2005

Part of me wonders if this protest wasn't well thought out in advance, perhaps with the ACLU's involvement. Just as in the case with Rosa Parks, where it wasn't as spontaneous as commonly believed.

For example, the caption under one of the picture: "Deborah Davis defends freedom at home while her son serves abroad in Iraq." She's a 50-year-old mother of four, etc.

Essentially, she's mediagenic.

Not that I'm against this. Hell, I'm a card-carrying member of the ACLU myself. But I wonder if they would have taken the case if it had been someone else. Someone a little less white perhaps. I wonder how many other people protested vainly until we found the perfect poster child.
posted by formless at 3:43 PM on November 25, 2005

Hmm...I kinda like the web site design.
posted by darkstar at 4:06 PM on November 25, 2005

if the ACLU really was doing/staging this kind of thing on purpose I might donate money to them even though I don't live in the USA!
posted by tiamat at 4:11 PM on November 25, 2005

Here's a conundrum:

The BC Ferries run from Swartz Bay (near Victoria) to Tsawwassen (near Vancouver) crosses the US-Canadian border at two different points, just southwest of Point Roberts, Washington.

This particular route is considered, by law, to be part of the Trans-Canada Highway (yep, the Trans-Canada Highway legally passes into the USA). As such, riding the ferry is essentially the same as walking down the street or riding a bus, activities which require no license and which are protected by the right to travel.

So: since I'm crossing the border, would I be required by law to provide ID or a passport to an American security guard if he asked for it?

Because, y'know, the idea that she's fair game because the pass happens to cross onto federal property is ridiculous to me.
posted by solid-one-love at 4:11 PM on November 25, 2005

Isn't it the Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay run that is the Trans-Canada highway? I think Tsawassen to Swartz Bay is provincial highway 17.
posted by Emanuel at 5:03 PM on November 25, 2005

What would have happened if she didn't have ID with her?

This is pretty troubling.
posted by konolia at 5:11 PM on November 25, 2005

Also linked at Reason a little while ago, where there are some supporting links.
posted by Kwantsar at 5:11 PM on November 25, 2005

Leonard Cohen.

In Canada, we do not have to show identification to the authorities.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:46 PM on November 25, 2005

Nice shiny red apple to those who can ID the first quote without looking.
That's Rick, talking about Elsa, in Casablanca.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:58 PM on November 25, 2005

If she had a letter of transit this wouldn't have happened.

It's a bit mad, but I would certainly expect to have to show some sort of ID if I were driving onto a gated federal facility. I also assume that if they have guards who are checking bus passengers, they have guards who are checking motorists, however perfunctorily.

The daft part is that a public bus drives into the federal center, which appears to be a slightly more secure version of a corporate campus or commercial park, and then proceeding to non-secure public areas beyond. This is definitely a special, if not unique, situation and among other things should call for the transit agency to notify people in advance that this route has unusual requirements, viz. the showing of ID. If I knew before getting onto the bus that it would stop on federal property requiring a security check, then I could make the decision myself as a citizen whether I wanted to use the bus.

An even better principle would have the federal facility handled by a separate shuttle bus, but suburban transit hangs by tooth and nail as it is, and I know exactly what these corporate-campus buses are like. Long, tedious rides in and out of campusville out to ever-more-remote campi. There almost certainly isn't any other public transit option for the passenger in this case, and providing a "non-secure" bus for the public and one for the feds is cost-prohibitive for the transit agency (which might only be able to afford the route in the first place because of grants so that federal employees can get to work).

As much as ms. Davis's defenders want to make this a test case, I don't think it's going to be widely applicable. Any federal court is likely to uphold the right of federal law enforcement to see identification of persons on federal property, regardless of the situation if it were a random street encounter.
posted by dhartung at 11:52 PM on November 25, 2005

From Smedleyman's link: the US Supreme Court Monday upheld a Nevada law that makes it a criminal offense for anyone suspected of wrongdoing to refuse to identify himself to police.

So how are you supposed to be able to tell that the police are asking for identification because of suspicion of wrongdoing rather than simply because they want to fuck with you? If you watch the video on the Hiibel page, the policeman repeatedly refuses to tell Hiibel (in any informative way) why he wants to see his ID.
posted by epimorph at 11:57 PM on November 25, 2005

From the incident report:
"I exited the bus then spoke with the driver and security officer who both stated she had been through the facility before, and had been difficult on those occasions also. But on each had finally provided identification as requested."

They already knew who she was. She'd already presented ID multiple times in the past; she was being stubborn, the security guard was being petty. I feel sorry for the cop called in to handle this bullshit.
posted by fleacircus at 2:28 AM on November 26, 2005

Let's look at it this way. Let's say she decided to walk to work. And she decided the quickest way to get to work was to follow the same route the bus took. If she WALKED onto the federal campus, she still would have been asked for ID. If she walked AROUND the campus, no problem. I don't think it's an example of losing freedom as much as it is being incovienienced. What if the government sold the campus and it became private property. Would she still have the right to cut across it to get to work?
posted by boymilo at 6:22 AM on November 26, 2005

konolia: What would have happened if she didn't have ID with her?refused to show ID that they got nasty.
posted by kaemaril at 6:33 AM on November 26, 2005

WTH? What happened there?
As I was saying: according to the article, when asked for ID on previous trips she said she didn't have any and they weren't bothered. It was only when she refused to show ID that they got nasty.
posted by kaemaril at 6:36 AM on November 26, 2005

They already knew who she was. She'd already presented ID multiple times in the past; she was being stubborn, the security guard was being petty. I feel sorry for the cop called in to handle this bullshit.
posted by fleacircus

This is pretty much the point in a nutshell. It's an authority issue--not a security issue. Rent-a-cops, as a general rule, are less able than real cops to think independently and believe me when I tell you that cops in general are not think-outside-the-box sorts.
posted by leftcoastbob at 8:01 AM on November 26, 2005

I'm really confused - why is this even an issue? I work on Government property and have to show ID and a security pass to get into my office; why is it so strange that her bus, which entered an (admittedly not high security) Federal office reservation?

I know that the security guards and cops who check ID in my building would probably get fired if they let any of us in without our ID, even if they knew us!
posted by luriete at 8:28 PM on November 26, 2005

Some people think that just because your bus passes over federal land shouldn't be enough cause to demand identification. For example I can enter a court room here without showing ID or even passing thru a metal detector.

The right of free travel is very important because otherwise the right of free assembly is moot.
posted by Mitheral at 6:02 AM on November 27, 2005

This is one of those concepts that can be hard to see past, I think, because on some level, it makes sense.

What my name is should be irrelevant, especially in the US. That I carry ID should be irrelevant.

Sweep the bus for explosives and weapons, sure. Make me go thorugh a metal detector to enter your building (or even come near it, if you like). That's your right.. but determining whether or not I can enter an otherwise public area based on WHO I am is rediculous.
posted by TravellingDen at 6:56 AM on November 27, 2005

posted by matteo at 11:14 AM on November 27, 2005


ITYM, "Ausweis, bitte!"

I had a Latin teacher in high school who, rumour had it, used to say that to students who would show up late for his classes.
posted by LanTao at 4:20 PM on November 27, 2005

If they had passed such a law, would it break another law that would result in a big, big price being paid by the perps?

'cause for the life of me, that's all I can think of that would explain this behaviour.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:09 PM on December 11, 2005

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