Make St. Pete a No Drone Zone by Act of St. Pete City Council

dronestrikememoPresident Obama has directed the Federal Government to kill American citizens without a trial.  He has already carried out this act with at least two American citizens: one intentionally and one as “collateral damage” by drone strike.  Now, law enforcement agencies all over America are starting to fly drones over American cities to “monitor crowds” and more.  Thankfully a bill is making its way through Tallahassee would severely limit the use of such drones by local law enforcement. It is time for local governments to do the same and pass local laws preventing their police departments and Sheriffs from flying indiscriminate drone surveillance over our towns and cities.   However, given the Big Brother mentality of local governments with their red light cameras, and street corner surveillance cameras, it is likely the local governments will encourage drone use for a variety of reasons.

There certainly is an appropriate use for flying surveillance cameras – when used under a warrant or when a sudden emergency requires assistance in the air – like fires, civil unrest and hurricane management. But that is not what Police are using drones for in Miami-Dade and Orange County where they will be used for crowd control, general surveillance, supporting police operations and more.  This is an inappropriate and unconstitutional violation of privacy. It won’t be long before cities are using drones to look for code violations in backyards of citizens to find ways to generate revenue from fines.

Even more concerning is the posture of the President who feels he is entitled to write the law, judge compliance with the law he writes and execute Americans who he feels violate his secret law.  This is what is happening when the President serves as Judge, Jury and Executioner and kills American citizens with arial surveillance and weapons platforms known as drones or UAV’s (Unmanned Arial Vehicles).  This violates the constitutional rights to “due process”, a trial by a Jury of one’s peers and a ban on cruel and unusual punishment.  There is no due process when one man decides a person is “too dangerous” to live.  They may, in fact, be a terrorist but they may also be a mere political enemy. That person in the crosshairs of the UAV may simply be a person who happens to look like the alleged terrorist.  These actions are in addition to the “kill list” of the Obama administration and the federal security forces he has ordered to “partner” with local government. 

The President’s Justice Department has asserted in a leaked document that it may kill an American Citizen without trial.  It states that it can do so when there is  “an imminent threat of violent attack” against the country, capturing the citizen must not be feasible, and it all has to be done within “law of war principles.”  So one wonders, who exactly is determining that there is an imminent threat of a violent attack?  What was the imminent attack thwarted when American citizen Anwar Al-Awlaki and his son were killed in Yemen? What other secret criteria will be created to kill Americans anywhere and anytime the President deems is in “the national interest”. This is what Kings do, not representatives of the people in a Constituional Republic. 

A good question is raised by Notre Dame Law Professor and expert on the use of force, Mary Ellen O’Connell. When discussing whether the law is meant only for use on foreign soil, she is quoted by NBC news to say: “If the president can make up law,” she said, “I don’t see why he would think he is stopped from making up law to apply inside the United States.”  The full memo was obtained and revealed by NBC news.  It is about time the mainstream media caught up to the reality that the President of the United States is transgressing well beyond his authority and is violating the Constitution in the most egregious of ways: unilaterally sentencing Americans to death and killing them.

There is a solution that can solve many of the problems for local citizens.  The St. Petersburg City Council and the Pinellas County Commission should declare the area as a “no drone zone”.  The Sheriff and police should be instructed not to use this technology and the city should send a letter to the Federal government that their drones are banned from our skies and we expect to be notified if there is any intent of flying them over our citizens. Federal Drones spotted over our City should prompt legal action in Federal Court to have them shut down immediately.

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