Politic365

 
 


District

12:00pm November 28, 2011

PG County Cops Raid Home of Prominent Civil Rights Lawyer

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“They held us at gunpoint for three hours,” said Barbara Arnwine, Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “There is no justification for them operating like this. It’s totally unprofessional and unjustified.”

Arnwine says her home in Prince George’s County, MD was raided by a SWAT team and other members of the Prince George’s County Police Department in the early morning hours of Monday, November 21.

Arnwine, a well known attorney and prominent leader against new Voter ID laws and voter suppression, relayed the incident on Washington D.C. radio station WPFW and to Rev. Al Sharpton and Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. on Sharpton’s show “Keepin’ It Real.”

The civil rights lawyer told WPFW news anchor Askia Muhammad that, “President Obama has heard about it and has e-mailed people asking ‘what in the world is this?”‘

Arnwine is a familiar face on Capitol Hill to lawmakers, lobbyists and civil rights advocates.

“If it can happen to her it can happen to anyone,” Rev. Jackson said during the interview. Arnwine’s home is located in “the wealthiest African American majority county in the nation,” according to a 2006 Ebony magazine article.  Arnwine is responsible for the widely distributed “map of shame” displaying new state voter ID laws across the nation.

Defining the incident as “outrageous,” Arnwine said she and four family members, including an 80 year-old relative, were in her home when a SWAT team arrived at 5:30 a.m., three days before Thanksgiving. Arwine told Sharpton that the police produced no warrant despite her requests and searched her home which she says was left in disarray.  She said they asked for the name of who owned the house and how to spell that name.

“If they had a warrant and were targeting any of us then how could they not know our names and know how to spell them?” Arnwine said to WPFW’s Muhammad. “It looks like they were randomly looking — like they were on a fishing expedition. I honestly think they were looking for someone else.  I honestly think they had the wrong address. I don’t think they had the right house but I’ll never know because I never saw the warrant,” she added.  A press conference is being planned on the incident.

On November 16, Arwine testified at a voter suppression summit to House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), CBC Chair Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and several other members of Congress alongside ACLU Legislative Director Laura Murphy.

On June 13, Arnwine appeared with other civil rights leaders, including Wade Henderson and Rev. Jackson, at the National Press Club on voter suppression.

On July 13, she appeared again with Rev. Jackson, and eight members of Congress on issues surrounding new Voter ID laws passed in several states.  Reps. Marcia Fudge (D-OH), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Betty Sutton (D-OH), Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Maxine Waters (D-CA) spoke at the press conference along with Arnwine.

Arwine informed Rev. Sharpton that one of the members of the Prince George’s County Police Department was “taken aback” when she informed them she was an attorney and of basic fourth 4th Amendment rights.  Arnwine claims the officer responded that “the fourth Amendment doesn’t apply here.”  She also said they didn’t believe she was an attorney and asked what school she attended and what year she graduated.  Arnwine is a graduate of Duke University School of Law.

Arnwine has been the Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law since 1989. Her bio on their site in part reads: “the National Bar Association bestowed upon her the esteemed Gertrude E. Rush Award and in March 2011, she received the National Black Law Students Association’s prestigious Sadie T. M. Alexander Award.  In 2009, Ms. Arnwine received two prominent awards: the Washington D.C. Freedom’s Sisters Award (sponsored by Ford Motor Company, the Smithsonian Institution and Cincinnati Museum Center which honors contemporary leaders who have fought for equality for people of color) and the Keeper of the Flame Award from the Boston Lawyers’ Committee.”



About the Author

Lauren Victoria Burke
Lauren Victoria Burke
is the Managing Editor of Politic365 and publishes the blog Crewof42 on Black members of Congress. She can be seen occasionally on NewsOne Now with Roland Martin. Ms. Burke has enjoyed employment with USAToday and ABC News and holds a B.A. in History from The American University. Contact: LBurke007@gmail.com. Twitter: @Crewof42




 
 

 
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26 Comments


  1. Where’s the police department’s side of the story?

    Was a warrant actually issued? Did police have the right house? What were they looking for? Did they make any arrests or take any property?

    Did you make any attempt to get the police to comment?

    It is hard to take pieces like this very seriously when they are so lacking in details, fairness or balance.

    And that is unfortunate given the PG police department’s poor record. A well-documented complete and balanced actual news story would have been very useful for those of us trying to hold the PG police accountable.


    • Darryl Cox

      I read about this incident last week. I'm confident that If the police had had a warrant then Ms. Arnwine would have it in her possession at this time. I find it quite easy to take a story like this seriously given not only the poor record of the PG police department but the fact that intrusive police raids of this type are increasing in frequency all across the country.


    • lauren

      yes contacted them… waiting for their statement… waiting… will keep you posted.


    • ALFO

      PGPD is still trying to get their story straight,if they won't respond why does that give you cause for disbelief?from intimate knowledge of the event PGPD separated the two teens from the adults,making the 80 year old & her stand with their hands over their heads for a 1/2 hour,keep following this,other misconduct by the PGPD will be revealed,like threatening to shoot her if she didn't S.T.F.U.


  2. Fred

    Was this reported to the district police commander and county attormeys office? What was their reaction? Can the police enter a private citizens home without a warrent and search that home without the owners permission? Was any of this witnessed by neighbors or security camaras?


    • Darryl Cox

      Why do you believe this incident needed to be seen by neighbors or recorded by security cameras? It is not legal for the police to enter your home and search it without a warrant but it happens all the time.


  3. ALFO

    JUST DAM FRED read her bio there are pictures of the trashed house too,your speciously asked questions gives me pause to your validity,Barbara Arnwine Executive Director of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.


  4. Rese

    This is so typical PG County Police behavior!! They have abused their authority for years and little to nothing has been done about it! I pray that she drags their triflin asses threw the mud and rack them over hot coals!! The County Police have very little regard that citizens and has a very serious GOD SYNDROM…like the "black" people of PG are not worthy of explainations and respect. I pray on top of prayers that she sues that hell out of them!!!


  5. DANETTE

    LORD GOD, INDEED! THE COMMENTS MADE BY JESSE JACKSON DISAPPOINT ME, INDEED. HE STATES, "IF IT COULD HAPPEN TO HER IT COULD HAPPEN TO ANYONE". WHAT IN THE WORLD WAS HE "THINKING"? ALL THOSE YEARS IN FIGHTING FOR PEOPLE IN CIVIL RIGHTS – DIDN'T TELL OR TEACH HIM THAT? WELL THEN, WHAT DID HE THINK HE WAS DOING WHEN HE WAS OUT THERE SERVING THE PUBLIC? DID HE IMAGINE, THAT IT WAS ONLY FOR "THE LEAST OF THESE" THE BENEFIT OF JUSTICE WOULD BE GIVEN? THE THOUGHT NEVER OCCURRED TO HIM THAT "ALL" INDEED WOULD BENEFIT? WELL, I GUESS THE THOUGHT NEVER OCCURRED TO HIM BECAUSE HE – LIKE MANY OTHER'S – DEEMED THEMSELVES "BEYOND REPROACH". UNTOUCHABLE, AS CONCERNING "ASSAULTS" "UN-LAWFUL ARRESTS" AND "BRUTALIZATIONS" BY POLICE. THOSE THINGS WERE RESERVED FOR THE "POOR AND NEEDY" – NOT THE "ASTUTE" AND THE "INTELLECTS" AND THE "GRADUATES"!! OH NO, FOR THEY HAD PROVEN THEIR "ENTITLEMENT TO JUSTICE"! WELL, I'M SORRY TO INFORM YOU THE "REQUIREMENTS FOR JUSTICE" WERE NEVER WHAT YOU WERE LED TO BELIEVE THEY WERE; IT WAS SIMPLY A "RUSE" WHICH WAS USED TO GIVE AN EXPLANATION, AS TO WHY YOU HADN'T BEEN GIVEN "ANY JUSTICE". SO YOU RAN THROUGH THEIR SCHOOLS AND COLLECTED YOUR DEGREES AND BELIEVED YOURSELVES TO BE "SAFE AND SECURE". AND LO AND BEHOLD, "HERE WE ARE AGAIN". EXCEPT "THIS TIME" THERE SHALL BE "NO RUSE" THAT THEY SHALL OFFER!


  6. Peter Gatliff

    Only one word for this travesty. Fascism.


  7. [...] Civil rights lawyer’s home raided by police: Barbara Arnwine, the executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said her Prince George’s County home was raided by a SWAT team and other law enforcement the morning of Nov. 21, Politic365.com reports. [...]


  8. Sheila

    ‘Everyone needs to be held accountable for their actions. (im speaking of the law enforcement that did the wrong). You give “people a badge and some authority” and it goes to their head. There needs to be a lawsuit enforced, and some apoligies made to this family, I do not see any excuse for this action…just people make mistakes..but there needs to be some “accountability”.


  9. Sheila

    I would like to add….law enforcement, prisons, corrections, judges, more articles on people serving 15-16 yrs.in prioson being wrongly accused (2 sisters in Atlanta), 18 yr old man beaten to death in Alabama prioson recently by guards,the fact that African American’s fill up the prisons system..what more do we have to go through??/ How much more does society want?People need do “think before they react”…think about “what if someone did this to me?”…and see how that feels..


  10. [...] PG County Cops Raid Home of Prominent Civil Rights Lawyer [...]


  11. Lawstudent

    A search warrant is comprised of three elements: 1) the application for the warrant that lists the place to be searched and things to be seized; 2) the judge's order for the warrant to be executed; 3) the return that lists what the police took as a result of the search.


  12. Lawstudent

    Prior to leaving the location of the search, the police should provide the copy of the judge's order and the return that lists what has been taken. Regulations appear not to require the police to provide the judge's order BEFORE conducting the search, but they should provide it prior to leaving after the search is conducted. In cases where the search warrant is sealed, the police are not required to provide a copy of the application that lists the place to be searched and things to be seized. Someone should ask her if she recieved the return. Someone should also ask if she did not get a copy of the judge's order – what the judicial remedy for that is. The exclusionary rule likely does not apply, meaning even if they did not provide the judge's order, that is not a legal basis to supress whatever evidence they may have found during the search. The police may conduct a search in this manner when they have probable cause to believe that someone in the home is a fugitive. Perhaps someone else in the home (or at least someone whom the police thought might be there) had an open warrant of some kind.


    • Guest

      Actually, in order to enter the premises, they must show the search warrant. From my understanding, Ms. Arnwine requested the search warrant multiple times and was not provided a copy to review.


  13. David

    “To protect and Serve” is the perception of Cops to the citizenry of America emmanating from the counties universal code of conduct for the Constable on Patrol in these United States; however, with just a cursory observation of the treatment of the 99% (who are majority of the Caucasian label) we clearly see the falsity of that notion in regards to the 99%.

    Now the pre-eminent attorney Arnwine, it is clear she is being targeted. The all too common stereotypes of poverty,unemployment and too numerous to recite

    Maladies inflicting people of African decent in these United States of AMERIKKA do not apply to her or the citizens of that county. Now the article states the attorney’s efforts to push back against Jim and Jane Crow’s attempt(s) to come back from remission stage &

    infuse directly into the body politrikkks of Amerrikkka!


  14. guest

    There was a warrant. The lawyer's nephew committed an armed robbery. evidence relating to the armed robbery was located inside the house during the course of the search warrant. the nephew had previously been fired from the location robbed for theft. Not everyone in the household is a fine, upstanding citizen and perhaps if the lawyer spent more time addressing the behavioral needs of her family members and less time inciting negativity based in inaccuracies, then none of this would have happened.


  15. [...] by governments as a result of the PATRIOT Act. Recently, in Prince George’s County, Maryland, a SWAT team raided the home of prominent Civil Rights Lawyer Barbara Arnwine for reasons unknown (Not the first time prominent civil rights leaders were under scrutiny from the [...]


  16. Willie Burnett

    As the writer stated above that there was reasons foe the search. This may be tue, but you still need to show the search warrant. This 2011 not 1950. That the way it was back in the 50's.


  17. There was a warrant. The lawyer's nephew committed an armed robbery. evidence relating to the armed robbery was located inside the house during the course of the search warrant.


  18. Guest

    This is a prime example of how one side of a story can be so misleading. While I do not understand unarmed individuals being held at gunpoint if that is what happened, I will be curious to learn more details. I wonder is Ms. Arnwine had knowledge of her nephew's crime and if so, is that considered harboring a fugitive? I have no idea of the answer, just posing a question.



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