Posts Tagged ‘Baptist Pastor’

On the evening of April 14, 2009, Baptist Pastor and business man, Steve Anderson was traveling home to Tempe Arizona from San Diego California on interstate 8. Near Yuma Arizona he entered a Border Patrol checkpoint. Other than identifying himself, stating that he is a U.S. citizen and that he has not crossed an international border, and that he was not hiding persons or contraband, he refused to answer authorities questions because he believed he was invoking his fourth amendment right to be free from unreasonable detention and search.(1) He was at that time directed to a secondary location. At that time the authorities persisted in questioning him and demanded to search his vehicle. Pastor Anderson continued to object and remained non-compliant, stating that they had no probable cause to search or detain him; after over an hour of enduring authorities accosting him, Pastor Anderson was horrifically beaten, then denied prompt medical attention. You can hear Pastor Anderson retell the ordeal in his own words here:

It is unclear if Pastor Anderson had a right to resist the checkpoint intrusion under the Fourth Amendment as the United States Supreme Court has ruled that sometimes the State’s interest outweigh individual rights. The State, having a responsibility to ensure public safety may curtail an individual’s rights to achieve that end. In the case of Boarder Patrol checkpoints, the Supreme Court has ruled that it is not a violation of Fourth Amendment rights to ask motorist a few questions to determine citizenship and to visually inspect the exterior of a vehicle for a couple minutes.(2) The Court has ruled the State’s interest outweighs the checkpoint’s minimal intrusion on the individual.

That confusion aside, what is crystal clear to me is that those authorities were perversely unjustified in their reaction to Pastor Anderson’s protest. Their actions were grossly negligent and they are culpable for his injuries. You can hear him explain his position in this interview:

What is also clear to me is that each time the State curtails my liberties under the pretense of protecting me, I feel proportionately less safe. Whether it be at the airport or on the open road, when encountered by government’s agent, my heart races, because I know he believes I possess no right to question his authority and if questioned, he will hurt me. I would not defend the individual who would barter any portion of their rights for some safety because he will ultimately get neither. I will, on the other hand, be an advocate for anyone who resists tyranny in defense of his rights because his resistance protects my rights and your rights as well. I am making a donation to Pastor Anderson’s legal fund and I would ask you to do the same and share this story with others and ask that they contribute as well.

Scott Decker; May 2009

1 FOURTH AMENDMENT [U.S. Constitution] – ‘The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.’

2 United States v. Martinez-Fuerte, 428 U.S. 543, 566, 546 (1976).