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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Anthony Gregory: Boston Police Overreacted, Not Libertarians

"If two criminals can bring an entire city to its knees like this with the help of the state, then terrorism truly is a winning strategy." -Anthony Gregory

On his Facebook Wall, Gregory made the above statement in a lengthy and absolutely spot-on analysis of the police response to the Boston Marathon bombing. Over at The Independent Institute, he shared his concerns in greater depth in "What Is The Threshold for Martial Law?"

Yesterday, Students for Liberty's blog carried a guest submission critical of Gregory's perspective on the issue entitled, "Civil Libertarians Overreact to Boston Police."

Highlights from the critique:

'Civil libertarians need to avoid the knee jerk reaction to police action. They should see it as their obligation to make sure society does not forget individual liberty in times of crisis, but looking critically at police action is not the same thing as looking constructively at police action.


What was I supposed to think about the 9,000 police officers that descended upon the Boston suburbs or about the lockdown advisory? As somebody who feels very strongly about the militarization of the police and the impact of terrorism on public concern for civil liberty, I did not feel comfortable with the Humvees or the Homeland Security tactical vests. How Bostonians have responded, however, has been cause to reevaluate my initial reaction.


In most of Boston, the lockdown was in effect as an advisory. It was not martial law. In the heat of the manhunt, officers did require residents to stay out of the closed off areas in Watertown if they chose to leave their homes, but this was consistent with any police action where the search for an armed and dangerous suspect narrows to a confined area. For civil libertarians like Anthony Gregory to suggest that Boston was brought to its knees under the weight of the police state is just wrong. Bostonians wanted to catch the suspect, and they did so coming out strong.

If civil libertarians cannot respect police action, they will not only remain electorally irrelevant, they will fail at shifting the debate on civil liberty as well. It is too easy to fall into using contemporary events to validate your own views, but that kind of talk will unsettle anyone that is not already caught up in the fight for liberty. By responding to events like the Boston Bombing with criticism of police action, civil libertarians come across as out of touch. Keeping the events in context, rather than taking it as an opportunity to soapbox, will ultimately be a better strategy for communicating the need to safeguard civil liberty in times of crisis.'

Students for Liberty, because it's awesome, published Gregory's response, Boston Police Overreacted, Not Libertarians, today.


(No highlights. Read the piece. It's excellent.)

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