A new museum is scheduled to open in the American Capitol in 2013. According to a press release, “The National Law Enforcement Museum will be a hands-on, interactive museum providing an opportunity to walk in an officer’s shoes and experience firsthand what it is like to make life-or-death decisions, solve crimes, protect our communities and safeguard our freedoms.”
It would probably be small minded and pugnacious to assert that the greatest threat to the freedom of the American people has become the police. Becoming a cop or a prison guard has become one of the last plausible career choices for the American working class. We were probably better off as a nation when we made steel and Studebakers instead of “offenders” but there is no point in being sentimental. “Things are,” as modern football coaches seem say every other day, “what they are.”
A Brief Philosophical Digression
Integral to the police-corrections-drug war-surveillance-reality television industrial complex is a great river of pro-police propaganda. It is the most visible aspect of what the French postmodernist Michel Foucault called “knowledge-power.” Powerful police bureaucracies define reality.
“We control matter because we control the mind,” O’Brien the inquisitor lectured his prisoner in 1984. “Reality is inside the skull. You will learn by degrees, Winston. There is nothing that we could not do. Invisibility, levitation – anything. I could float off this floor like a soap bubble if I wish to. I do not wish to, because the Party does not wish it. You must get rid of those nineteenth-century ideas about the laws of Nature. We make the laws of Nature.”
George Orwell is dead. If he were alive he could never publish today. But if he were alive and his most famous book was published he could change the title from 1984 to the Mongols case, the Pagans case, the Outlaws case or Operation Black Biscuit and he would not have to change much else. He could change the inquisitor O’Brien’s name to Brunwin and the book would still work fine.
The Law Enforcement Museum is monumental propaganda. It casts the big lie that police “safeguard our freedoms” in concrete. That hardly deserves notice. Maybe some kids who don’t have a relative in prison will go there and have fun. Maybe there are still some Sheriff Andys somewhere down in cracker country. Maybe Sheriff Andy would like to visit this monstrosity.
This museum only gets mentioned here for two reasons.
The first is that Harley-Davidson supports this museum. This year the Motor Company has donated a 2010 Road King Peace Officer Special Edition for the museum to auction. So if you ever do business with Harley Davidson you might want to know that.
The bike has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price of $18,402 and the museum intends to sell six thousand chances to win for $25 a ticket. And if you are a member of, say, the Pagans Motorcycle Club and you have a little time on your hands you might want to just check on the legality of that raffle. You might even want to write a letter to your local US Attorney and suggest he check on the raffle’s legality, too.
The other reason to mention this new museum is that it. “will house the most comprehensive collection of law enforcement artifacts — both historical and contemporary — in the United States.” The prize artifact collected so far is “the motorcycle used for over three decades by Undercover ATF agents while investigating the worst of the worst criminals across this country.” And, by worst criminals in the country, the author of the press release does not mean ATF Agents who entrap, murder and lie. He means people like you.
For example, “from 1997 to 1999 ATF Agent Blake “Bo” Boteler used the motorcycle to infiltrate the Sons of Silence outlaw motorcycle organization which ultimately led to the arrest of over 85 members and associates on weapons charges and drug trafficking charges in Colorado” the press release explains.
Bikers And Big Al
The press release continues: “‘Undercover operations such as those that took down Al Capone and the Sons of Silence outlaw motorcycle gang are seminal moments in American law enforcement history, illustrating the professionalism, courage and determination of our country’s federal law enforcement officers,” said Craig W. Floyd, chairman and CEO of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, the DC-based non-profit that is leading the creation of the Museum. ‘Now, through these objects, we will be able to tell these stories in ways that are compelling and educational.’”
Then the release explains that, “Special Agent Boteler was one of two undercover ATF agents who infiltrated the Sons of Silence outlaw motorcycle club, which trafficked illegal weapons and drugs in the Midwestern United States in the 1990s. On October 9, 1999, following a two-year investigation, over 85 Sons of Silence members and their associates were arrested on illegal weapons and drug trafficking charges. This investigation was significant for the number of violent criminals removed from the community, the unprecedented risks that the two ATF agents took by infiltrating this national organization and for the amount of firearms and narcotics that were either purchased or seized to include 126 firearms, 27 machineguns, 3 sawed-off shotguns, 5 silencers 4 hand grenades, 4 improvised explosive devices, over 25 pounds of methamphetamine, 13 motorcycles and 2 clubhouses.
“‘This motorcycle represents just one of the tools used in a two-year undercover investigation that took some of the country’s worst criminals off the streets,’ explains ATF Deputy Director Kenneth E. Melson. ‘It’s an honor for all the men and women of ATF to have it displayed in the National Law Enforcement Museum so its story can be shared with everyone who visits the museum.’”
An Opposing View
The release represents such a half-assed, misleading and irresponsible redefinition of reality that somebody needs to respond. And it will probably not be the New York Times, the Washington Post, or the Colorado Springs Gazette. So, very briefly because this story is already far too long, here is what Special Agent Boteler and another ATF Undercover Agent named Cole Edwards really did and were responsible for.
First of all, Boteler did not hit a drunk in the face with a flashlight at a picnic. Many eyewitnesses think he did but they are wrong because what he really did was briefly become invisible and then levitate.
The raids were on October 8th, 1999 not the next day. They were a made for television event and thirty-seven people were arrested not eighty-five. Forty-two people were indicted in 19 separate indictments. The indictments were connected because they were all the fruit of Boteler and Edwards’ deceit and entrapments.
The most successful aspects of the prosecution were in the press. Walter Gerash, one of the defense attorneys in the case called press and television reporters who covered the case, “the running dogs of the government.”
Another attorney named Larry Pozner described the infiltration like this: “They (the ATF) take relatively minor offenses and trumpet them as the crime of the century. This is garden variety stuff made to sound like a major law enforcement coup.”
An attorney named David Lane said of the case, “This happens all the time, especially when big headlines are involved. I’ve represented a number of unpopular groups, and the most dangerous gangs in the country are the DEA, the ATF and the FBI. Those three gangs are frequently out of control, and they basically ride roughshod over the Constitution of the United States on a regular basis.”
Of the 42 people arrested only 21 belonged to the club. As is the custom, houses were deliberately vandalized by ATF Agents during the October 8th roundup. Twenty-one, not thirteen motorcycles were seized. But eight of them were returned because a judge ruled those seizures were illegal. And, one of those was returned with “ATF” scratched into the custom paint job on the gas tank.
That is what the motorcycle in the new museum will memorialize.