Video that surfaced over the weekend shows border patrol agents close to El Paso, Texas attempting to seize a libertarian activist’s phone as he was videoing what he believed to be an unconstitutional checkpoint stop.
Radio host Tony Stiles captured the exchange as he and two colleagues were traveling to Florida from California for a public appearance. The journey did not involve a border crossing, and again raises concern over the legality of inland checkpoints.
The agent captured on the video demanded that Stiles hand over the phone as he was exiting his vehicle, claiming “I don’t know if it’s a weapon, if it’s a knife or if it’s a gun. Let me have your phone.”
Stiles refused to hand over the phone, replying “That is not happening… You know full well it’s not a f***ing weapon. Are you f***ing kidding me?”
Stiles was already wound up by being ordered to get out of the vehicle by agents who vaguely cited “probable cause.”
“It’s my authority, I am not federal.” one agent is heard saying, “GET OUT OF YOUR VEHICLE.”
“I’m confused as hell,” Stiles replies, asking “have we broken a law.”
“This is probable cause, and now you guys are just snowballing onto it.” The agent replies.
The agents claimed that a canine had alerted to the vehicle. When the men finally agreed to exit the car, Stiles held on to the phone and filmed the subsequent search.
The three were eventually arrested for marijuana possession, as agents claimed they recovered a small quantity of the drug. Both men claim that they did not have any marijuana in the vehicle. They also say that the video shows one of the agents taking his hand out of his pocket and possibly placing something in the bag they were searching.
After being held for over seven hours in separate cells, and taking legal advice, the three were released when Eric Goodrich, Stiles’ team member, took the charge in order to avoid waiting days for a judge to look at the case.
It is, of course, a right protected under the Constitution, to film police and law enforcement agents in public, which is why the agents did not forcefully seize Stiles’ phone.
However, there is now a trend of police claiming that phones could be weapons in order to get people they stop to hand them over and to avoid being recorded.
Using the excuse of attempting to apprehend illegal immigrants, Border Patrol agents have set up a network of internal checkpoints inside the United States. As we have documented, in some cases the checkpoints are as much as 100 miles from the border.
Despite what a Supreme Court ruling says, since the checkpoints are situated far away from the Mexican border, they are clearly a violation of the 4th Amendment, which protects, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Of course, the Supreme Court also once ruled that black people in America were slaves.
The ACLU has dubbed the 100-mile area in which the checkpoints have been positioned as the “Constitution-free Zone,” noting that 2 out of 3 Americans live within this buffer zone – around 190 million people in total.
There is no law that says refusing to comply with Border agents and/or police at such checkpoints gives probable cause to search an individual’s vehicle. It certainly does not provide probable cause for agents to force their way into the vehicle, as has been the case on several documented occasions.
This is just the latest in a series of confrontations caught on video showing Americans standing up to the 4th Amendment-violating checkpoints.
We previously reported on the case of Steven Anderson, who refused to show his papers at another Border Patrol checkpoint while traveling through California.
Anderson provided a sterling example of how to stand up for your rights in such a situation. When Border Patrol agents attempted to detain him for questioning, Anderson refused, citing his right as an American citizen to “go free on my way.”
In another incident, a truck driver who passed through a checkpoint in Texas, 30 miles from the Mexican border, stood up for his 4th Amendment rights by refusing to answer questions and eventually driving away.
These videos and hundreds of others like them accentuate the fact that Americans are not required to answer Border agents’ questions (usually starting with “Are you a United States citizen?”). Nor are Americans required to consent to any searches at such checkpoints.
Visit www.checkpointusa.org/blog to learn more about this program. By actively “flexing” their rights, these brave citizens expose the techniques DHS and Border Patrol agents (and police in general) use to trick and intimidate citizens into compliance.
Not all Americans who refuse to have their rights violated have been as successful as those in the videos above. In 2008, retired San Diego social worker Vince Peppard and his wife had their car ransacked after refusing to consent to being searched.
Alex Jones has also encountered similar “interior checkpoints” on numerous occasions, including the incident documented in the video below.
Hat tip: benswann.com
Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.com, and Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham, and a Bachelor Of Arts Degree in Literature and Creative Writing from Nottingham Trent University.