The battle against the coronavirus is a real one. It is an unprecedented event in modern world history, and extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. However, in some cases, state and local governments are going too far.
Citizens are ratting each other out to local law enforcement, drones are being used to spot those violating lockdown orders, and the National Guard has been going door to door in Rhode Island hunting for New Yorkers.
The road to tyranny is paved with good intentions. If we aren’t careful, these same tactics could lead to the erosion of liberty. These police state tactics must be limited, or our constitutional rights may be done away with completely.
The government of Bellevue, Washington, is encouraging residents to report violators of stay-at-home orders via an app. Bellevue law enforcement gave residents the following procedure for reporting violations:
“You can report these incidents through the MyBellevue app on your electronic device or the My Bellevue Portal.
- Log onto the app on your phone or online at MyBellevue.
- Click on new request.
- Click Report gatherings.
- Click issue location and move the pin over the location or add the address manually.
- Click submit.
As the reports are filed, the app will show officers hot spots throughout the city.”
In Michigan, call lines were flooded with residents informing state law enforcement that they had witnessed people violating Governor Whitmer’s state lockdown.
Wzzm13 in Grand Rapids, Michigan reported, “Emergency lines and the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection hotline were flooded with calls reporting noncompliance with the governor’s stay at home order on Tuesday.
The order, which calls for the suspension of all nonessential activity, went into effect at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday and by the evening it was unclear who should be fielding the calls clogging state and local agencies’ phone lines.
‘These are unprecedented times and my office is working with Gov. Whitmer’s office, local law enforcement agencies and other parties to ensure these executive orders are being followed,’ Attorney General Dana Nessel said Wednesday.”
In Rhode Island, the National Guard has been searching for New Yorkers who have traveled to Rhode Island to escape the epicenter of the outbreak in the Empire State.
The Insider reported that the National Guard assisted Rhode Island police with house-to-house searches on Saturday to seek out anyone who has traveled from New York and force them to self-isolate.
Senior Master Sgt. Janeen Miller, the police department’s public affairs superintendent, told Insider that authorities were acting on behalf of the state’s Health Department.
Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo issued an executive order on Thursday establishing interstate stops and stationing officers at bus stops and train stations to identify New Yorkers and order them to self-quarantine.
“The Rhode Island National Guard has already been collecting contact information from passengers of mass transit, such as bus, trains, and planes,” SMSgt Miller said.
She continued: “Basic contact information is collected and handed over exclusively to the RI Department of Health, where it is used to conduct health and wellness follow-ups and contact tracing should someone fall ill. This contact information is not handed over to any other agencies and is not kept by the Rhode Island National Guard.’”
As if that wasn’t dystopian enough, local police departments in California have been using drones to spy on citizens in order to enforce shelter-in-place orders in the Golden State. The Washington Examiner detailed one such example: “A police department in southern California is looking into different ways its drones can help during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Chula Vista Police Department recently doubled its fleet with the purchase of two machines. The police department told the Financial Times that they would be outfitted with cameras.
‘We have no traditionally mounted speakers to our drones, but … if we need to cover a large area to get an announcement out, or if there were a crowd somewhere that we needed to disperse, we could do it without getting police officers involved,’ said Capt. Vern Sallee.”
I am as big a supporter of federalism and states’ rights as any commentator in America. However, that doesn’t mean that state governments are more powerful than the United States Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land. It is time to have a national discussion on the unconstitutional abuses being committed at the state and local level, because if states can get away with this, then the federal government will be next.
And that would be an absolute nightmare for American citizens.