Can you say Police State? The Examiner has the scoop on a controversial new program announced today that would create so-called "Neighborhood Safety Zones" which would serve to partially seal off certain parts of the city. D.C. Police would set-up checkpoints in targeted areas, demand to see ID and refuse admittance to people who don't live there, work there or have a “legitimate reason” to be there. Wow. Just, wow.
DCist aptly captures the zeitgeist:
Interim Attorney General Peter Nickles actually said that measures of this sort have "been used in other cities.” Which cities are those, Mr. Nickles? Warsaw?
Let's not forget Fallujah. An update press release says this will only apply to people in cars, which is very slightly less offensive, but also infinitely more pointless.
DC has had a spate of violence recently, and I applaud the police department's urge to do something. However, this something seems to follow the logic outlined by Bryan Caplan:
1. Something must be done
2. This is something
3. Therefore, this must be done
Crime tears the fabric of society, but so does a government which believes that it may at any time control the movements of its citizens like so many (presumptively suspicious) sheep. It's fun to call Rudy Giuliani a crypto-fascist, but he and Bill Bratton managed a stunning drop in violent crime without setting up checkpoints.
I hope that when the police ask for their papers, people will hand them a copy of the Bill of Rights too. It might prove instructive. If not, at least we'll all have the grim pleasure of saying "Here are my civil rights. Please take them."
This article available online at: