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We Are the Government: Tactics for Taking Down the Police State

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Jury Nullification
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"The people have the power, all we have to do is awaken that power in the people". We are the government."--John Lennon

Saddled with a corporate media that marches in lockstep with the government, elected officials who dance to the tune of their corporate benefactors, and a court system that serves to maintain order rather than mete out justice, Americans often feel as if they have no voice and no recourse when it comes to holding government officials accountable and combatting rampant corruption and injustice.

We're impotent in the face of SWAT teams that break down doors and leave toddlers scarred for life. We're helpless to prevent police shootings that leave unarmed citizens dead for no other reason than the police officer involved felt "threatened." And we're defenseless against a barrage of laws that render virtually anything and everything is a crime nowadays (feeding the birds, growing vegetables in your front yard, etc.) to such an extent that if a prosecutor, police officer and judge were so inclined, you could be locked up for any inane reason.

This is tyranny dressed up in the official garb of the police state. It is the self-righteous, heavy-handed arm of the law being used as a decoy to divert your attention to the so-called criminals in your midst (the fisherman who threw back small fish into the ocean, the mother who let her child walk to the playground alone, the pastor holding Bible studies in his backyard) so that you don't focus on the criminal behavior being perpetrated by the government.

So how do you not only push back against the police state's bureaucracy, corruption and cruelty but also launch a counterrevolution aimed at reclaiming control over the government using nonviolent means?

You start by changing the rules and engaging in some (nonviolent) guerilla tactics.

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Employ militant nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience, which Martin Luther King Jr. used to great effect through the use of sit-ins, boycotts and marches.

Take part in grassroots activism, which takes a trickle-up approach to governmental reform by implementing change at the local level (in other words, think nationally, but act locally).

And then, while you're at it, nullify everything the government does that is illegitimate, egregious or blatantly unconstitutional.

Various cities and states have been using this historic doctrine with mixed results on issues as wide ranging as gun control and healthcare to "claim freedom from federal laws they find onerous or wrongheaded."

Where nullification can be particularly powerful, however, is in the hands of the juror.

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According to former federal prosecutor Paul Butler, the doctrine of jury nullification is "premised on the idea that ordinary citizens, not government officials, should have the final say as to whether a person should be punished."

Imagine that: a world where the laws of the land reflect the concerns of the citizenry as opposed to the profit-driven priorities of Corporate America.

Unfortunately, as I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, with every ill inflicted upon us by the American police state, from overcriminalization and surveillance to militarized police and private prisons, it's money that drives the police state. And there is a lot of money to be made from criminalizing nonviolent activities and jailing Americans for nonviolent offenses.

This is where the power of jury nullification is so critical: to reject inane laws and extreme sentences and counteract the edicts of a profit-driven governmental elite that sees nothing wrong with jailing someone for a lifetime for a relatively insignificant crime.

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John W. Whitehead is an attorney and author who has written, debated and practiced widely in the area of constitutional law and human rights. Whitehead's aggressive, pioneering approach to civil liberties has earned him numerous accolades and (more...)
 

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