The Fourth Amendment Alliance, Inc.

Civil rights.  For more than 10 years we have been challenging the status quo of civil rights, and in 2020 we formed The Fourth Amendment Alliance to fix the predicaments. The heart of the matter is a quandary in our courts that makes justice elusive when Constitutional civil rights are violated, and that has created a safety problem on our streets by emboldening certain law enforcement officers to disregard civil rights.  Respect. Justice. Constitutional civil rights.  These are reasonable expectations for citizens in America.  We can and will restore civil rights in positive and constructive ways if we,  "Fix the problem, not the blame."

What about "defunding police", won't that reduce the number of civil rights violations?   No. Obviously that cry is a knee-jerk reaction. It is perfectly natural and expected for citizens to take offense at civil rights violations, especially when there is horrifying video. However, diminishing public safety and societal structure is not the correct response. All officers are not bad because one or some made a mistake. So we fix the mistakes. The correct response is to reaffirm and restore the primacy of civil rights, and adjust the mechanisms of societal structure to respect and protect the civil rights of citizens, and remove the individuals who do not respect Constitutional civil rights.  The Constitution is first among laws, so it matters most.

Now, let's be logical.   Our structure of laws, policing, courts and jails is the result of our entire history of collected knowledge about how to protect the personal rights and property rights of citizens.  Everyone wants laws to protect their "life, liberty and pursuit of happiness". Civil society requires that much. And everyone wants a good police officer to be available if there is a threat to their life or property. Civil societies require that.  To fix the imperfections, some people are bending the paradigms of society's structures today, and creative thinking is always encouraged because everything can be improved. So all ideas should be shared and debated; and that is how good ideas rise and how nonsense is discarded.

4A-Flag-ribbon

Let us restore civil rights correctly, so that our children and grandchildren inherit a great American society.

Observe that America was founded on civil rights. Read the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and especially the Bill of Rights at archives.gov. Understand your rights and why they exist.

Today, because of videos that disturb all good citizens, and because of trends in policing and in our courts, we are particularly concerned about violations of certain protections in the 4th Amendment to the Constitution:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Constitution-w-Flag

All citizens share those same "civil rights".

There are two types of threats to 4th Amendment civil right protections in America today; threats on our streets and threats in our courts.

Threats to civil rights on our streets are the result of bad decisions, or negligence, at a scene by individual police officers or by other government officials. Individual officers exercise free will, and thus must be accountable for their decisions and conduct if they violate civil rights. However, when an officer's actions are directed by a department or city, "qualified immunity" might apply and the department or city is liable for the violation. Minimizing violations of civil rights requires 1) logical laws that respect civil rights, and 2) an officer's common sense and good judgment tempered by respect for citizens and their civil rights, all of which are informed by good training in the law, and good training in how to assess situations for proper handling. Officers, however, are human - and everyone understands that.

Let's be honest: Civil rights violations are incidents between individuals, which by definition cannot be "institutional" or "systemic". Everyone understands the fact that individuals control their conduct. In rare cases, an individual officer's actions may be directed, and in those cases the officer may not be liable for the violations, another party may be liable. (See Qualified Immunity page and Errors with Warrants page.)

Threats to civil rights in our courts happen when civil rights have been violated on the streets and then our courts, that are supposed to defend our civil rights, deny justice and deny restitution. Judges and juries must know that civil rights are written in the Constitution, the highest law of the land. Nothing supersedes the Constitution. So nothing should deny justice when civil rights are violated. And it does not matter if that violation of civil rights is directed, malicious, negligent or inadvertent. Rights are rights, and the Constitution and Federal law demand that violations of the civil rights of citizens require justice and restitution.

Respect for civil rights on our streets. Truth and justice in our courts. These are reasonable expectations.

4A-Flag-ribbon

So...how often are civil rights violated?

FACT: There are over 700,000 sworn police officers in America.

FACT: Those officers process over 10,000,000 arrests each year; about 26,000 each day. For every arrest, accusation of crime is filed, which is the officer's justification for "seizure" or arrest. Some of those arrests violate 4th Amendment protections. Not every citizen is a "perpetrator" who should just be arrested to force a prosecutor to coerce a plea bargain to dismiss the charges.

To take away the freedom of another person is a very serious thing. To do so without a very good and lawful reason is the most serious of offenses against the Constitution, and a violation of basic human rights everywhere. So officers must be absolutely certain that there is a factual and lawful basis for every arrest, or that arrest violates "civil rights", particularly 4th Amendment protections.

FACT: Less than 5% of charges actually go to trial. That begs the question of whether all of the arrests needed to happen to stop crime or keep the community safe, at such a significant cost to taxpayers of police, prosecutors, jails and courts. And that is in addition to the costs to individuals arrested, who lose time and money defending against the accusations (missed work and family time, lawyer fees, court costs, etc.). The total costs can be as much as $3,000 to more than $20,000. That is significant damage to most family budgets. Arrest can violate a citizen's right to be secure against "unreasonable searches and seizures" if the citizen is committing no identifiable crime, and not threatening the community or officers.

Statue-of-Liberty-2

How often are citizens killed by officers? Those incidents make news.

FACT: About 1,000 citizens are killed by officers each year; about 3 per day. How many of the 1,000+ from the past year can you name? Some of them appear on the pages of this site and elsewhere. If we look closely, most citizens killed are armed and/or committing crime, and deadly force is arguably required to protect the community or officers, so most of those deaths are NOT violations of civil rights. So be careful and be educated - not every death of a citizen is a civil rights violation.

FACT: More unarmed white citizens are killed by officers than unarmed citizens of any other race. Civil rights apply equally to all citizens.

FACT: Policing by its nature can be confrontational, and can be dangerous work. And there is risk on both sides. In the first few months of 2021 police officers were killed in the line of duty at about the same pace citizens have been killed by officers.  We are all humans.  If you protest or mourn the unjust deaths of citizens, protest or mourn the unjust deaths of good officers too.

Simple math says that with 10 million arrests each year, those 1,000 deaths are exceptions, rare occurrences. The civil rights violations are less than 1/100th of 1 percent of arrest incidents, an incredibly low percentage. Obviously, the vast majority of officers do not kill citizens. The vast majority of officers do a good job "protecting and serving", keeping our streets safe while making difficult, spontaneous decisions whether to use police powers.

Yes, any violations of civil rights are bad. The number of civil rights violation deaths may be small, but matter a LOT to the individuals whose lives are lost, diminishing their families, friends and communities. So, when civil rights violations occur, there must be justice in our courts.

As Justice John Marshall observed about civil rights in 1803 re: Little v Barreme "...a violation is a violation...and (when rights are violated) restitution is due".

 

The Fourth Amendment Alliance, "4A", is a 501(c)(3) educational public charity, dedicated to promotion and protection of the civil rights of citizens, particularly those written into the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution. Our objective is to restore civil rights, educate citizens to know their civil rights and know when rights are violated, and ensure that justice is available if something unfortunate happens.  Donations to support our work are tax-deductible, and every citizen who has ever had rights violated will be grateful for any contribution you make.

On the pages of this site you will find examples and guidance, to help you if a civil rights violation has happened to you or someone you know. You will also find our plan for restoring civil rights protections to our streets and to our courts, which centers on: 1) Enhancing the professionalism of law enforcement, by bringing policing into the modern era, and 2) Restoring truth and justice to our courts and judicial systems so that everyone can once again be honest about civil rights violations and restitution.

It is time to, "FIX THE PROBLEM, NOT THE BLAME".

 

You can participate. Do at least two of these things:

[1] Sign up and JOIN in the effort.

[2] SHARE the Constitution's 4th Amendment with friends and family, and help more Americans know their civil rights. Send a link to this site, if that is easy for you.

[3] DONATE. As the old adage says, "If you can do something, do it. If you cannot, support those who can."   DONATE  The amount isn't important. Just show you care and support the mission.

 

The US Constitution and the rights of citizens it established must be restored and protected if America is to persevere as an exceptional nation.

4A