I have avoided writing about David Hogg up to this point because I don’t find him particularly relevant. His stale arguments in favor of gun control are not novel or compelling. He uses bully tactics to force businesses and people to bend to the will of the anti-gun lobby.
But something just happened to David Hogg that is a bigger threat to Americans than mass shootings. He was “Swatted.” Someone called the SWAT team and falsely reported a hostage situation at the house David Hogg lives in with his parents and sister.
Parkland, Fla., shooting survivor turned anti-gun activist David Hogg avoided another potentially deadly incident Tuesday — after police armed with assault rifles kicked down the door of his family home. Broward County sheriff’s officials were responding to a call that Hogg and his family had been taken hostage by an assailant armed with an AR-15.
That call turned out to be false.
Hogg, thankfully, was out of town when police arrived at his doorstep en masse — prepared for a shootout with an armed menace.
This was not a prank. A prank is ordering 10 pizzas to someone’s home who didn’t ask for them. Or asking if someone’s refrigerator is running.
If initial reporting about the incident proves accurate, this was attempted murder.
Isn’t that sad that calling the police to someone’s house is attempted murder? But it is true. The trigger happy standing army of militarized police terrorize America daily–whether they intend to or not.
The Rise of No-Knock SWAT Raids
In December, a 28 year old man named Andrew Finch was shot and killed by a police sniper when he answered the door after a SWAT team surrounded his house. The police will not say who fired the fatal shot, but whoever it was will not be punished. They claim that the man made a sudden move, or reached for his waistband–all the justification police need for murder in the land of the free. The man was a victim of a Swatting “prank,” even though the address given was the wrong address for the intended target.
Andrew Finch’s family has sued the city alleging that the officers used excessive force and were inadequately trained. A man has been arrested and charged with making the false emergency call, and involuntary manslaughter.
According to the book the book Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces, SWAT teams were originally justified on the basis that they would only be used in the most dangerous situations involving hostages, terrorists, and dangerous criminals.
But mission creep meant that SWAT teams were used ever more frequently for a broader range of activities as the years wore on.
The number of raids conducted by SWAT-like police units has grown accordingly. In the 1970s, there were just a few hundred a year; by the early 1980s, there were some 3,000 a year. In 2005 (the last year for which Dr. Kraska collected data), there were approximately 50,000 raids.
Now 80% of no-knock SWAT raids are used to execute minor search warrants. Only 7% are used for the original purpose: hostage and barricade situations.
No-knock raids–when the police do not announce themselves, and instead break into a home with battering rams–routinely get both officers and civilians killed.
In a 2012 no-knock raid, police broke into the home of a veteran with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Believing he was the victim of a home invasion, the veteran fought back wounding six officers, and killing one. The veteran was charged with murder, and killed himself in prison before the trial. His crime was having 16 small marijuana plants. But there was no evidence of selling weed, he was using the plants to self medicate.
Similar incidents occurred in Texas in 2013. Each raid led to the death of a police officer with the homeowners claiming they were unaware that those breaking-in were police. One of the men was indicted, and the other was not. Ironically, no evidence of any crime was found during the raid of the man who was indicted with murder.
But forgive me for having less sympathy for officers who knew what they signed up for, and participated without question in raids against innocent people, or people accused only of minor, victimless crimes. Even hiding behind a badge, you are responsible for your actions. Making a paycheck, or just following orders are not moral justifications for murder and destruction.
Public support for the failed War on Drugs is at its lowest ever, and yet police are still using hyper-aggressive tactics and heavy artillery to fight it. This paramilitary approach to everyday policing brutalizes bystanders and ravages homes. We reviewed one case in which a young mother was shot and killed with her infant son in her arms. During another raid, a grandfather of 12 was killed while watching baseball in his pajamas. And we talked with a mother whose toddler was covered in burns, shot through with a hole that exposed his ribs, and placed into a medically induced coma after a flashbang grenade exploded in his crib. None of these people was the suspect. In many cases like these, officers did not find the suspect or any contraband in the home.
The Wall Street Journal adds that at least 50 civilians have been killed in recent years in raids for non-violent and victimless crimes.
In 2006, 38-year-old optometrist Sal Culosi was shot and killed by a Fairfax County, Va., SWAT officer. The investigation began when an undercover detective overheard Mr. Culosi wagering on college football games with some buddies at a bar. The department sent a SWAT team after Mr. Culosi, who had no prior criminal record or any history of violence. As the SWAT team descended, one officer fired a single bullet that pierced Mr. Culosi’s heart. The police say that the shot was an accident.
Other victims include:
Katherine Johnston, a 92-year-old woman killed by an Atlanta narcotics team acting on a bad tip from an informant in 2006; Alberto Sepulveda, an 11-year-old accidentally shot by a California SWAT officer during a 2000 drug raid; and Eurie Stamps, killed in a 2011 raid on his home in Framingham, Mass., when an officer says his gun mistakenly discharged. Mr. Stamps wasn’t a suspect in the investigation.
Judges almost always approve the warrants requested for no-knock SWAT raids. In one analysis, only 3% were denied. The justification police need is weak. Simply saying that the suspect might be armed is usually enough.
Police have even obtained warrants for no-knock raids on the justification that the homeowner legally owns firearms! And yet that is exactly when a no-knock raid will be most dangerous to everyone involved.
At least 1/3, and as high as 65% of drug raids turn up no evidence. Only 25% of no-knock drug raids find contraband.
In 2003, the commissioner of the NYPD estimated that, of the more than 450 no-knock raids the city conducted every month, 10 percent were wrong-door raids. That estimate came after a wrong-door raid resulted in the homeowner’s death: when police broke into the home of 57-year-old Alberta Spruill and threw in a flash-bang grenade, the shock gave her a fatal heart attack.
SWAT raids are used far in excess of the original purpose. SWAT raids are dangerous for both police officers and civilians. SWAT raids are ineffective even at their modified purpose–which includes enforcement of nonviolent and victimless crimes. And many raids target the wrong house, or are initiated as a prank.
What’s Deadlier, Mass Shootings or the Police?
Police kill around 1,000 people per year, although the exact number is unknown because police and government agencies refuse to keep track. In 2017, 68 of those killed by police were unarmed.
But just because someone is armed does not justify that the police shoot them. In July 2016, Philando Castile was legally carrying a firearm when a police officer shot and killed him. Castile was a passenger during a traffic stop. He told the officer he had a gun, and was reaching for his ID when the officer opened fire. The officer was charged with manslaughter, but aquitted.
One of the victims police killed in 2017 was Kameron Prescott, a 6 year old boy hit by a stray bullet. The woman police were trying to shoot was unarmed.
Another victim was Justine Damond who called police to report hearing a sexual assault. When she approached the police car to tell them more details, she was shot and killed.
15 year old Jordan Edwards was murdered by police for fleeing a busted party. The officer initially lied that the car was driving towards him to justify his actions. Body camera footage revealed that the officer shot at the car as it was driving away, killing Edwards, and then flipped them off.
Armando Garcia-Muro was killed by a cop’s stray bullet meant for a pitbull.
2017 was a particularly deadly year in the USA for mass shooting, mainly because of the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay Massacre. But even according to inflated estimates by anti-gun sources, fewer than 600 people were killed in mass shootings in 2017. Many of the “mass shootings” this figure includes were “mass shootings” with only one victim. Some incidents were gang related and domestic disputes–tragedies for sure, but not what most people would consider a mass shooting.
For what most people would agree constitutes a mass shooting, the actual number for 2017 is closer to 100.
David Hogg is Focused on the Wrong Shooters
Why is it so easy to send a government murder squad to someone’s house? Why is the burden not on police to confirm the facts of the call, or attempt contact before firing away? Police have more tools and information available to them than ever, and yet they can’t seem to confirm the most basic facts surrounding the calls to which they respond.
When it comes to non-emergency situations, it is even worse. Ignoring all the problems with the policing of victimless crimes, police could arrest suspects when they are out in public, or search homes only after verifying that they are empty, or who is inside. But police are so desperate to get ahold of some evidence that they put lives at risk daily.
American Police constitute a standing army at war with the American people. Criminals I can protect myself against, unless Hogg gets his way. But regardless of how criminal police act, I am at their mercy. You cannot even defend yourself against a home invasion without risking murder charges if the invaders happen to be cops.
This highlights another danger of police raids–criminals can and do simply dress as police, or yell to the homeowners that they are police, and then have their way with their victims.
If you want to save lives, disarm police. They were the ones who failed to intervene while Hogg’s school got shot up. They, and the FBI, were the ones who swept the shooter’s previous crimes under the rug and failed to address tips regarding the threats made by the shooter.
The SWAT raid on David Hogg’s home was performed by the same Sheriff’s Department that failed to stop the shooting. And somehow Hogg feels comfortable writing it off as a silly prank.
Whatever your feelings on David Hogg’s politics, it is sickening to see this kind of state violence directed at an innocent person. And far too easy for any random citizen to target their enemies with this tactic.
The only reason this was even possible is because of the militarization of the police, and disrespect for individual rights.
Unfortunately Hogg’s promotion of gun control shares the same disrespect for individual rights.
And yet if the campaign to disarm the populace were to succeed, these same officers botching raids and abusing rights would be the only ones left to protect us. But all too often, police are the ones doing the victimizing.