Martial Law in One City: The Case of Paragould, Arkansas
by William Grigg
"The fear is what's given us the reason to do this," insisted Todd Stovall, the head functionary of the paramilitary occupation force afflicting Paragould, Arkansas, as he announced that the city would be placed under martial law for the supposed purpose of deterring crime. "Once I have stats and people are saying they're scared, we can do this. It allows us to do what we're fixing to do."
What Stovall and his fellow tax-feeders are "fixing to do" is to leave the city's streets clotted with SWAT operators toting AR-15s and official permission to harass anybody who comes within eyeshot.
The marauders "are going to be in SWAT gear and have AR-15s around their neck," grunted Stovall at a town hall meeting held last Thursday at the West View Baptist Church. "If you're out walking, we're going to stop you, ask why you're out walking, check for your ID."
"We're going to do it to everybody," Stovall explained, anticipating objections. "Criminals don't like being talked to."
The same is true of citizens, of course -- but like most members of his paramilitary tribe, Stovall divides the world between enlightened agents of State "authority" such as himself and the Mundane population, which is to be intimidated into submission.
Stovall insists that constitutional quibbles over probable cause don't apply, because the "crisis" justifies imposition of a city-wide curfew and garrison state measures.
"I've got statistical reasons that say I've got a lot of crime right now, which gives me probable cause to ask what you're doing out." He admits that he didn't consult an attorney before reaching that conclusion, and that "I don't even know that there's ever been a difference" between what he's proposing and undisguised martial law. To those who might complain about being harassed by Stovall's minions, the chief offers an unqualified promise" "We have a zero-tolerance. We are prepared to throw your hind-end in jail, OK? We are not going to take a lot of flack."
Paragould historically has a very high burglary rate, but the violent crime rate is substantially below the national average: In 2010, the last year for which stats are available, there wasn't a single murder in the town of roughly 26,000 people. But political elites and their enforcers are adept at manufacturing fears, and the bullet-headed militarist who heads the police department -- and appears to be building his own little private army -- assumes that government derives its "just" powers from whatever fears it can instill and exploit in its subjects.
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