Austin, Texas – In what sounds like something out of the Cold War Soviet Union playbook, Austin Police Chief, Art Acevedo urged the community to turn in neighbors and friends who are “gun enthusiasts” or who have “extreme” views, just days after Larry McQuilliams shot-up buildings in Austin.
Acevedo, in a press conference, stated that he is fearful of “homegrown” terrorists like McQuilliams who harbor “hate” and have access to firearms.
But what Americans should be fearful about isn’t the likes of McQuilliams, but rather the response by Acevedo on how to go about countering these perceived threats.
While obviously no rational or sane person supports mass killings and violence, when you look deeper at the statements made by Acevedo, his words are frightening, invoke images of the former Soviet Union’s KGB and are extremely un-American.
The statements made by Acevedo sound like something straight out of George Orwell’s 1984.
“And that’s why it’s important for us as Americans to know our neighbors, know our families- tell somebody. If you know somebody that is acting with a lot of hatred towards any particular group- especially if it’s somebody you know is a gun enthusiast or is armed with these type of firearms and they’re showing any kind of propensity for hatred- it doesn’t mean we’re going to take them to jail, but we might want to vet these people.”
To take the exercising of civil rights, protected by the First and Second Amendment of the United States Constitution, and turn them into something that makes someone a suspect, or person of interest for law enforcement, is disingenuous to every principle of freedom the U.S. was founded upon and a very dangerous precedent to set.
The First Amendment specifically covers people holding “extreme” views, even if these views are unpopular or perhaps repugnant and vulgar. The unpopular or “extreme” opinions held by individuals are protected under the U.S. Constitution, and specifically the Bill of Rights.
Those with unpopular political ideas have always borne the brunt of governmental repression, hence the Founding Fathers creating a Constitution to protect this type of speech in the first place.
Acevedo’s statements seem like a continuation of a narrative that has been all too common in recent years, as seen in the MIAC report, which claimed that potential terrorists include people who own gold, Ron Paul supporters, libertarians, and even people who fly the U.S. flag.
Then in 2012 there was a leaked Homeland Security study that claimed Americans who are “reverent of individual liberty,” and “suspicious of centralized federal authority” are possible “extreme right-wing” terrorists.
More recently, Senator Harry Reid labeled those who supported rancher Cliven Bundy, in his standoff with the Bureau of Land Management, as domestic terrorists.
The idea that holding beliefs outside the mainstream is suspicious and warrants investigation by law enforcement should raise red flags for all Americans about the increasingly totalitarian/fascist nature of our government.
Why does being angry about the injustices seen daily across our country and owning legal firearms make you suspicious or a potential criminal/terrorist?
These ideas being forwarded by Acevedo and the federal government are offensive, repugnant and fly in the face of liberty, justice and freedom, and are more closely aligned to a modern day Gestapo than a government “for the people, by the people.”
Why should people engaging in constitutionally protected activities be under increased scrutiny from their government and its law enforcement apparatus in what is proclaimed to be a free society?
Jay Syrmopoulos is an investigative journalist, freethinker, researcher, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs. Jay’s work has previously been published on BenSwann.com and WeAreChange.org. You can follow him on Twitter @sirmetropolis, on Facebook at Sir Metropolis and now on tsu.