Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Terror Starts at Home

The heightened level of "security" brought on by the most recent global terrorist attacks and threats will likely be evident in several ways to all Americans right where they live.  One local organization that is primed to play in this game is the Calvert County Sheriff's Department.  They have been itching to take on any would-be disruptors of our sedate rural existence, so much so that they zero in on whatever appears alien.  Out of state license plates are one clue.  Visiting for the purpose of protest is another.

A situation like the one recently at Bank of America stadium involving repellers with a banner protesting the Cove Point Plant expansion was resurrected recently when charges and counter-charges were filed over the treatment of protesters who had been arrested following the crane climbing incident early this year at Dominion's staging site on the Patuxent River.  It is not at all surprising that the Sheriff's Department would put a stop to such a stunt.  Their main concern, however, appeared to have been avoiding prolonged embarrassment from any perceived inability to control a one-off situation (rather than concern for the safety of those involved).  Hence, the degree of paranoia necessary to assertively respond to the latest scare is endemic to our county's law enforcers. In the crane incident, it will be difficult to tell whether the counter-charges by the Sheriff's Department against one of the protesters for making false statements to an officer is legitimate (unless an audio recording was made), since it will be probably be a case of several officers' words against one interloper.

I'm not into conducting acrobatic stunts for public attention, so it's a bit hard to empathize with the crane climbers (though easy to believe their rendering of the bungled "rescue" by Sheriff's deputies), but reading about a more recent incident that involved out-and-out harassment reminds one of the infamous reputation of Baltimore's cops wrought from Freddy Gray's killing and reflected on the TV series, "The Wire."  The targeted group in this case was not the urban, drug-dealing set, but the socially conscious, anti-fracking set.  It seems our Sheriff's Department is intolerable of either of those extremes and feels it is their duty to violate individuals' safety and constitutional liberties to protect Calvert County (and their own personal benefactors) from any intrusion on the speedy execution of a project voted down by local opinion.

While I think the Cove Point expansion is a white elephant and economics, rather than activism, will kill it, the picture these incidents paint of our Sheriffs make me very leery of the more permissible homeland security rules-of-engagement they will operate under going forward.  It wouldn't take much on your part to wind up under a jackboot that you once thought was your protection.

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