The capitalist crisis runs especially deep in the United States, and has many ramifications. Sometimes a news story appears which demonstrates this better than a thousand graphs and statistics.
In Deming, New Mexico, 56-year-old David Eckert is suing the cops for violations of his rights by police and others. Police pulled him over when he allegedly failed to come to a full stop at a Stop sign as he left a Walmart car park on January 2 this year. They claimed he looked nervous, and called in a drug-sniffing dog. The dog, according to cops, indicated the presence of drugs. The cops then handcuffed Eckert at about 2pm and placed him in ‘investigative detention.’ They convinced both Deputy District Attorney Daniel Dougherty and a judge to give them a search warrant “to include but not limited to [Eckert’s] anal cavity.”
At the nearest hospital, doctors refused to perform the search, calling it ‘unethical’. So the cops took him to an out-of-county hospital where the doctors were more compliant. Over the next twelve hours, against his protests, Eckert was then subjected to the following searches:
1. Eckert’s abdominal area was X-rayed; no narcotics were found.
2. Doctors then performed an exam of Eckert’s anus with their fingers; no narcotics were found.
3. A different doctor performed a second exam of Eckert’s anus with their fingers; no narcotics were found.
4. Doctors penetrated Eckert’s anus to insert an enema. Eckert was forced to defecate in front of doctors and police officers. Eckert watched as doctors searched his stool. No narcotics were found.
5. Doctors penetrated Eckert’s anus to insert an enema a second time. Eckert was forced to defecate in front of doctors and police officers. Eckert watched as doctors searched his stool. No narcotics were found.
6. Doctors penetrated Eckert’s anus to insert an enema a third time. Eckert was forced to defecate in front of doctors and police officers. Eckert watched as doctors searched his stool. No narcotics were found.
7. Doctors then X-rayed Eckert again; no narcotics were found.
8. Doctors prepared Eckert for surgery, drugged him, and then performed a colonoscopy where a scope with a camera was inserted into Eckert’s anus, rectum, colon and large intestines. No narcotics were found.
Since nothing had been found, the cops released Eckert at about 5 am. The hospital gave him a bill for $6,000 and turned it over to a collection agency.
These facts are not disputed by the police. Deming Police Chief Brandon Gigante says his cops did everything “by the book.”
What does this incident tell us? In the first place, it illustrates the contempt the cops, judges, and doctors involved have for the US Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizures, and their contempt for working people in general. This was a gross violation of this person’s rights, not to mention a violation of ordinary human decency. It was not just some random act by the two cops. There were also the judge and the District Attorney that signed off the searches, and the hospital and its doctors who willingly participated. There was never the slightest indication that Eckert consented to any of these invasive and humiliating procedures, yet all these various people carried them out against his will, apparently without question. The Police Chief still can’t see anything wrong with what happened. (Only the doctors at the first hospital acted honourably.)
When the first searches proved there was no evidence, further searches were conducted – the only conclusion one can draw is that the sole purpose of these later searches was to humiliate and degrade the victim.
All power to Eckert in his bid to hold to account these uniformed rapists and their white-coated accomplices. But even more important than that is the lesson that workers take from reading this story. This is how the ruling class sees us. The deepening crisis merely exposes this truth. The responsibility to uphold democratic rights, including protections against unreasonable search and seizure, and the defence of human dignity, falls to the working class. In reality, it always has.