What Happened to the 4th Amendment in Boston?

Last Friday, Americans watched as the FBI, Boston PD and other agencies conducted a large-scale manhunt for bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The entire city of Boston was on lockdown while authorities conducted door-to-door searches for said suspect. In the end, the agencies got their man but it wasn’t until the actual lockdown ended that a Boston resident spotted Tsarnaev in his backyard and called 911.

The lockdown, the house-to-house searches, patting down residents and treating them all as suspects had no bearing on the outcome of the investigation. It was, in my view, a waste of resources and an absolute trouncing of the Fourth Amendment.

Boston lockdown

The images of what happened in Boston last Friday should disturb any Constitution-loving American. The very reason the Fourth Amendment was included in the Bill of Rights was to protect Americans from overly broad search and seizures. The Amendment states that authorities must have “probable cause” before searching “persons, houses, papers, and effects.” As in, they or another witness saw the suspect run into a house, or they had good intelligence that suspect was hiding in a specific location. That wasn’t the case and the FBI and police over-stepped their legal boundaries, according to the Fourth Amendment.

This video shot by a Boston resident during the door-to-door searches, shows clearly what these people were subjected to.

On the day of the Boston lockdown, Don Lemon of CNN reported on the ongoing door-to-door searches:

This is up close to one of those door-to-door searches. You see the police officers here in full gear. What they do is either go to the front of the house, knock on the door, to pan over to the right here and you see one of the residents. Look over to the right.

There is a resident right there, the lady in the tan shirt and also the gentleman, knocked on their door. And then back here if you go around here they have been going into — walk this way — into people’s yards and into their garages. They have been — they opened the garage.

They go in. They do a complete search… You see there is about maybe 10, 12 police officers in full tactical gear here and then also on the other side of the house, this house over here, going into that garage…

That is exactly what happens. Every single door in this neighborhood, every single home really in this town, within a 20-block area, radius that they have blocked off, is going to get this type of treatment with police dogs.

Those are the K-9 units right there. You see them with their military style rifles drawn, wearing helmets, wearing the vests, and that’s what they’re doing. Then further back here, you see there is a police line. They move the line back when they search a particular area. The secure line comes back and each area they search they open up so that either residents or members of the media can get closer and closer. Once they do search out the particular area and particular homes. Again, look at this. Here they’re going into this yard.

They’ve already searched the garage. Now they’re going into the back yard presumably into the house and all residents can do is comply. Can you imagine living in these neighborhoods and having to have your house be opened up to the police officers if they’re wanting to come in? But most people here want to comply and that’s how it works.

Police dogs, pat-downs, house searches, intimidation, and guns drawn on every citizen in the area. Yeah, that’s not supposed to be the way it works.

Will what happened that day in Boston happen again in another U.S. city, regardless of the fact that locking down the city did nothing but delay finding Dzhokhar Tsarnaev? The FBI and police have faced almost no backlash and certainly no punishment for their actions that day, so it is certainly a possibility.

Our Bill of Rights are under attack every single day by those they were designed to keep in check. This is all just another example, albeit an extreme one at that.

At what point do we demand that our government follow laws too?



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