Tag: civil liberties union

University of Maryland Beating Prompts Investigations

Following the home basketball victory against Duke, University of Maryland students took to the streets to celebrate. Prince George’s County Police, along with mounted officers from the Maryland-National Capital Park Police, responded to disperse an unruly crowd. One student skipped for joy toward police in riot gear, then stopped as he neared two mounted officers. Prince George’s officers rushed the student, beating him with clubs until he fell to the ground, and then continuing to deliver blows as he lay on the pavement. Video of the incident:

The student, John McKenna, was charged with felonies on suspicion of assaulting officers on horseback and their mounts. The charges against McKenna were dropped yesterday without comment, and now the officers responsible for the beating are under scrutiny. One of the three officers who beat McKenna has been suspended, and as soon as the other two are identified they face parallel sanction. Prince George’s prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation as well.

While this story is moving in the right direction, the video contradicting the charges against McKenna and putting police brutality on record made all the difference. Good reason to be wary of laws prohibiting photography or video of police officers.

NYCLU: Repeal REAL ID

The New York Civil Liberties Union has issued an impressive report calling for the repeal of the REAL ID Act.

No Freedom Without Privacy: The REAL ID Act’s Assault on Americans’ Everyday Life” is a thorough look at the federal government’s national ID law, which states have refused to implement.

Less than a year ago, when it was clear that no state would be in compliance with the national ID law by the May 2008 deadline, then-DHS secretary Michael Chertoff granted waivers until December of this year, even to states that have statutorily barred themselves from complying. One of those states was South Carolina, whose governor Mark Sanford (R) has been a leading REAL ID opponent. The report cites him favorably for that.

Last year, bills to repeal the national ID law were introduced in both the Senate and House. With President Bush sure to veto, and Secretary Chertoff sure to demagogue a REAL ID repeal, the bills did not move. The political dynamics have changed since then, of course.

“Though the Real ID Act is not a household name,” the report says, “it is a central component of the Bush Administration’s assault on Americans’ liberty and privacy rights, and one that if not repealed now would forever change the fabric of American life.”

In its finite wisdom, the federal government often doubles down on bad policies, but the REAL ID Act is ripe for repeal. The law can’t be fixed, and there is no such thing as an acceptable national ID card.