POLICE STATE TACTICS
The heavy-handed tactics of the BATF (and many other federal government agencies) seems to know no bounds. On February 5, 1993, the BATF (of recent Waco, Texas fame) destroyed the home of a Portland, Oregon black woman, and terrorized her children for several hours in a case of mistaken identity. Consider the tactics used by the BATF, as described in the following 3/7/93 editorial by Margie Boule in the Portland Oregonian, and then realize that these unconstitutional tactics are being used by the BATF, FBI, FDA, EPA, and other federal agencies against thousands of American citizens on a regular basis:
"Janice Hart had a car full of kids when she pulled up to her house about 7:30 on the evening of Feb. 5. She'd just returned from grocery shopping. Janice Hart is the mother of two young girls. She's a beautician. She keeps a tidy house.
"On this night, a cold midwinter Friday, she had no idea law enforcement officers had been ransacking her house while she was wandering the aisles at Cub Foods, filling her cart with laundry detergent and her daughters' favorite breakfast cereals. She had no idea they wanted to take her to jail.
"There was a lot Janice Hart didn't know when she arrived home and saw her front door wide open, uniformed officers streaming in and out. But then, the folks from the federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms had no idea they were raiding the wrong woman's house.
"You could call it a simple case of mistaken identity. Or you could blame a paid informant who may have been too eager to collect the ATF's financial gratitude for incriminating information. Or you might wonder why these guys don't just go home and let the FBI chase the bad guys.
"Janice Hart got out of her car. 'I scream out, What are you doing in my house? Get out of my house!' says Janice. She walked to her side door, holding her house key. But the door was jammed. That's because ATF agents had kicked it in to gain access to the house, and then had nailed it shut.
"'Then this officer tells me to identify myself. He says, You know why that door's jammed. You know what's going on. I'm just in a daze. I say, I'm Janice Hart.' Janice says that's when the officer took her by the arm and pulled her inside, saying, 'You're going to jail.'
"Janice's daughters, 12 and 4, and a neighborhood friend, 9, heard that part. They got very afraid, very fast. 'I was crying,' says Nina, Janice's 12-year old. 'They say, Shut up and get back in the car. So I put up my knee like to get out, and he shut the door on my knee.' Nina says an officer searched her mother's purse then, and the trunk of the car. 'But all there was, was groceries.'
"Inside, Janice had trouble recognizing her own home. In the kitchen, men were shoving dishes to the floor. In Janice's bedroom they were ripping clothes from hangers and emptying drawers. 'I'm screaming, Oh my God, what are you doing to my house? They told me to shut up. They said I could talk later. And they kept saying, You're going to prison, Janice. The whole house was totally destroyed.' And it was. Janice has pictures.
"After about 15 minutes, the three girls were led inside. All were crying. 'It was dirty,' remembers Randi, who's 4. 'They throwed all the stuff on my floor. My church clothes were pulled down.'
"Janice's parents came to take the children away. That's when Janice says the ATF agents took her down to her basement to be interrogated. Janice is putting in a beauty salon in her basement. That night, she stood in the basement and started crying, just like her daughters cried upstairs.
"'There's about eight of them down there and they're asking me over and over my name, my Social Security number, my birthdate. On and on, over and over. And I kept answering over and over. And I'm saying, What did I do? I don't have anything to hide. And I don't. I'm 36 years old, and except for a misdemeanor when I did something stupid when I was 18, I have a totally clean record. No arrests, no nothing.'
Janice says she sat in her basement answering questions for over an hour, before anyone had read her her rights. She says she asked to call an attorney and the agents refused.
"'Then they started asking me if I'm Janice Marie Harrell. I say, No, I'm Janice Marie Hart. Then they show me this warrant they have. They're looking for a girl Janice Marie Harrell, 130 pounds, with scars on her right elbow, right forearm, nose, right hand, left eye.
"'Well, I have no scar on my face. I'm not beat up like that. I'm not a street woman. I'm an everyday type, a working-class mother with two children. This is totally shocking to me. I'm like, I'm not the person you're looking for and they say, You are, and I say, We can go through this for 30 days. I bet I can hold out longer than you, because it's the truth. That's when the main investigator, this George Kim, he says to me, You are good, Janice. You're really a professional.'
"Janice asked about the other Janice, the one they were so sure they were interrogating. What had she done? They said she was armed and dangerous, that she sells firearms,' says Janice Hart. 'They said she escaped from jail. They said an informant said I was her, and I was selling crack cocaine out my kitchen door. I don't sell cocaine.'
"The ATF agents had two warrants: an arrest warrant for Janice Marie Harrell and a warrant to search Janice Hart's home for firearms. They found no guns. They found no Janice Marie Harrell, either.
"'After about an hour I asked to see the picture of the girl,' says Janice. 'I looked at that and laughed. You couldn't believe they would even mistake me for this girl. We're different as night and day. Anybody could tell you--a blind man could tell you that's not me. I got hazel eyes, my hair is longer. I'm heavier.'
"And then there was the business about the scars. 'They pulled up my sleeves, looking for scars,' Janice says. 'Of course they weren't there. I say, How do I remove scars? Scars just don't disappear.' That's when he started getting this expression on his face like 'I think I messed up.' But of course they don't want to admit that to you.'
"Janice says they finally read her her rights. 'They're not just telling me I'm going to jail now,' Janice says. 'They're taking me to jail. I was crying bloody murder. That's not like me.'
"A Portland police officer, working with the ATF, took Janice downtown to be fingerprinted. 'And I want this in the paper,' Janice says. 'The Portland police were very, very nice to me. They treated me like a person.' Which is a lot more than Janice can say for the ATF agents. 'Especially George Kim,' she said. 'He was beyond nasty. I will never forget him as long as I live.'
"It took about 30 seconds for the woman in the fingerprint division to look at Janice Hart's fingerprints and shake her head. 'She said, 'You guys picked up the wrong person.' Then she turned to me and said, 'Baby, you can go home." Out in the hall, Janice says George Kim approached her. 'He has his head hanging down and he's telling me how sorry he is. I said, 'I bet you are.' That's all I said.'
"One of the Portland police officers gave Janice a ride home, offering to fetch her children on the way. He even broke down the same side door since Janice had not been allowed to take her keys. It took Janice and her husband, from whom she's separated, two days to clear out the mess. Lots of things had to be taken to the dump, broken, torn, bent beyond repair. The ATF dropped off a form so Janice could record the damages.
"I recounted Janice's story for Pete McLouth, the resident agent in charge of one of the local ATF offices. 'What you've just said is correct,' Pete says. 'She wasn't identified as Janice Harrell.' Pete says Janice Harrell was 'lodged' a few days later.
"And why was Janice Hart thought to be Janice Harrell? It seems Janice Harrell uses several aliases, and one is Janet Stewart. Stewart was Janice Hart's married name. 'I can't give you any more details,' Pete said, 'because there's still an active investigation underway on the events that led us to her house that evening.'
"Janice Hart said she hadn't been allowed to call a lawyer, hadn't been read her rights. 'I don't think that's accurate,' Pete McLouth said. (Agent George Kim, reached by phone, said he couldn't talk to the press.) He says he doesn't know why Kim might have apologized that night 'other than for the inconvenience of coming downtown to straighten out the identity.'
"Janice Hart has lost a lot of sleep since then. She's had trouble eating. She and Nina are going to see a psychiatrist to help with stress. Randi, the 4-year old, has been angry at school. Janice had to meet with her teacher. And the neighbors don't seem to like Janice Hart anymore. 'If (the ATF agents) were sincere about being sorry, I think they should come out here and straighten this out with my neighbors,' Janice says.
"This last week, Janice has been thinking a lot about something one of the officers said to her that Friday night, right after her fingerprints were examined and found to be different than Janice Harrell's. 'He turns to me and he says, real quiet, 'Janice, off the record. Come Monday you need to get yourself a good attorney.'"
[ED. NOTE: How does this differ from Nazi Germany or Communist Russia, China or Romania? It differs, because it is happening in the United States of America--and on a regular basis! Note the attitude of the BATF agents during the raid, and even after the raid when they found out they were mistaken.... In what ways do they differ from the Gestapo?]
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