Protesters: West Terre Haute police abused power

beitshalom.JPGProtesters: West Terre Haute police abused power
Arrest raises questions of when it’s OK for officers to ask for ID; men considering lawsuit
By Deb McKee

The Tribune-Star
WEST TERRE HAUTE Two men walking across the nation to protest the Iraq war say police officers in West Terre Haute violated their constitutional rights last week when one of the men was arrested for failing to produce identification.

Police say the request for identification was legitimate, and the arrest lawful.

For nearly four months, Raymond Schwab, 32, of Loveland, Colo., and Elliott Nesch, 22, of Fort Collins, Colo. — Brother Raymond and Brother Elliott, to their followers — have been walking from Denver on their way to Washington, D.C., sharing their religious and pacifist beliefs.

They belong to Beit Shalom Ministries, an outreach of the Protestant Free Church Movement, according to their Web site, www.beitshalomministries.org, which is sponsoring the walk.

On the evening of July 8, the two had just crossed the border from Illinois into Indiana when Nesch was stopped by a West Terre Haute police officer.

That in itself is not unusual for the pair.

Nesch said during an interview Friday afternoon that since they began walking, they have been stopped daily by members of various police agencies.

But this week was the first time either of the two ended up in a jail cell.

[Read more…]

Papers, Please

yourpapersplease.jpg

Papers, Please
Brother Elliott of Beit Shalom Ministries Arrested by Indiana Police

Today, Sunday, July 8, 2007 Brother Elliott was arrested and detained by West Terre Haute Police officers in the state of Indiana for “Failure to Identify” because he refused to show identification to Indiana law enforcement officials. I have phoned the Vigo County Jail where Brother Elliott was taken and I was told:

  • Brother Elliot is currently being detained at the Vigo County Jail charged with the crime of “Failure to Identify” a Class C Misdemeanor.
  • Brother Elliott was arrested by the West Terre Haute Police department and transported to the Vigo County Jail.
  • Brother Raymond was left on the side of the road in dangerous conditions and was not asked for id.
  • Brother Elliott’s car has been impounded saying it was abandoned. It was later discovered that the car had been ransacked by West Terre Haute police.
  • Brother Elliott has to appear in court Monday morning.
  • I was also told by the jail staff that if Brother Elliott were to produce an ID, they would release him, but he still has to go to court on Monday to face the charges against him.

These actions by Indiana police are blatantly un-Constitutional. The 4th Amendment to the Constitution reads:

The right of the People to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizure 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.

The brothers have not broken any laws and are not suspected of committing any crimes, yet are commanded to “Show Your Papers!” by Indiana law enforcement or be subject to arrest and persecution. This police state mentality from those who serve us, must not go unchallenged. Please take the time to voice your opinion by politely calling the following Indiana state agencies.

West Terre Haute Police Department
812.533.2114

Vigo County Sheriff’s Department
812.462.3226

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels
317-232-4567

Indiana House of Representatives
(800) 382-9842

Indiana Senate
(800) 382-9467

Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter
317-232-6201

UPDATE: Brother Elliott has produced his papers and has been released by the Vigo County Jail and has a court appearance on Monday, July 9th. After being released, and upon inspection of their private property, the brothers learned that Indiana law enforcement had tampered with, and destroyed personal property and evidence relating to this case. As my listeners know, Beit Shalom Ministries has been documenting their Denver to D.C. Walk for Truth on video. Indiana law enforcement seized a video camera belonging to Beit Shalom Ministries, rewound the tape to the beginning of their confrontation with the brothers, placed the lens cap on the lens, and hit the record button, thereby destroying valuable documentary footage and possible evidence in any future legal action.

UPDATE: Brother Elliott has produced his papers and has been released by the Vigo County Jail and has a court appearance on Monday, July 9th.

UPDATE 2: Elliott and Raymond have just retrieved their video camera, to find that the incident, which had been entirely caught on tape, is no longer recorded. Rather, the time is filled with black silence. A hearing has been scheduled for tomorrow morning. If Elliott pleads not guilty, the judge will hear the case at that time.

FINAL UPDATE: 7/9 2:15 CDT: This email message just in from Brother Raymond:

“Once again I hope people see that what we are doing is not illegal. This morning the County Attorney dismissed all charges against Elliott because the Police actions were unconstitutional.   As the neo-cons would say as they enslave and destroy Iraq, freedom isn’t free and if we desire to have liberty in this country it is only through people being willing to suffer for the truth.  Thank you for your prayers.  Shalom, Brother Raymond.”

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