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Is it really the intent of the SC General Assembly to eradicate terror through S.141?


Ed Haas

Is it really the intent of the SC General Assembly to eradicate terror through S.141?

 

March 5, 2007 – Another horrendous piece of legislation has recently passed in the South Carolina Senate and is now in the South Carolina House of Representatives.  Unless the public intervenes, S.141 – The Criminal Gang Prevention Act will become law in South Carolina this legislative session.  After reading S.141 and this Clemson University report on gangs in South Carolina, you decide whether S.141 is even necessary. 

 

The corporate media in South Carolina has been following S.141 and reporting on it in a manner that comforts rather than alarms the public.  This is not by mistake.  News stations across South Carolina, radio and television, accompanied by their counterparts in the press have went out of their way to magnify criminal gang activities in South Carolina.  Then the corporate media followed up this reporting with the response of the SC General Assembly – S.141.  It’s all very cozy.  Scare the public, through the corporate media, into believing a grave threat exists – then introduce a bill that reportedly addresses the threat, but fail to mention that the bill is also a dragnet that will allow the Attorney General to haul virtually any citizen of South Carolina before a SC Grand Jury for inquisition.  And you thought that S.141 was about thugs and drugs, didn’t you? 

 

On a side note: once you are before a SC Grand Jury, not yet charged with a crime, your 5th Amendment protections are virtually non-existent.  Consequently, if the state concludes that you offered false testimony to the grand jury – lied – the state can charge you with perjury.  However, it is my understanding that the perjury charge can only apply if you swore to tell the truth and nothing but the truth…so help you God.  Therefore, if I am ever hauled before such an inquisition and asked, “Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth - so help you God”, my answer will be no.  No doubt I’ll be illegally held in contempt of court.  However, if the state asks me a yes or no question, I should be allowed to provide a yes or no answer - should I not?  But I digress.

 

This type of reporting appears to me to have been preordained, and therefore tactical rather than practical, bordering on propaganda. Like the ambiguous war on that dastardly emotion – terror, the effort to scare the masses into believing that their safety is in such grave danger that they must surrender even more of their privacy and rights so that the government can effectively keep them safe is atrociously unpatriotic and un-American.

 

 The point is that the criminal gangs that the public thinks the SC lawmakers are targeting are only a very small component to the Criminal Gang Prevention Act. 

 

So how does S.141 define a gang?  After all, the legislators insist that they intend to eradicate the terror created by criminal gangs through the enactment of S.141, so we the people should understand the definition.

 

According to S.141 and previous SC code a ‘criminal gang’ means a formal or informal ongoing organization, association, or group that consists of five or more persons who form for the purpose of committing criminal activity and who knowingly and actively participate in a pattern of criminal gang activity.  The only exemption articulated in S.141 is for ‘employees engaged in collective bargaining activities or the lawful activities of labor organizations’. 

 

By virtue of the fact that the state can make its case as to whether or not five or more persons formed a formal or informal ongoing organization, association, or group for the purpose of committing criminal activity leaves the door open for many grassroots organizations, civic groups, and social associations to be investigated by a South Carolina grand jury under the suspicion of gang activity.  Just as the RICO Act has reached beyond the original intent of going after the Mafia, so too does the South Carolina Criminal Gang Act have the capacity and potential to eventually engulf political dissention groups and even political parties. 

 

S.141 sets the stage for this sort of totalitarianism and government oppression of political opinion and activism by encompassing Section 14-7-1610 of the 1976 SC Code in S.141, which reads:

 

The General Assembly finds that there is a need to enhance the grand jury system to improve the ability of the State to detect and investigate crimes involving the election laws including, but not limited to, those named offenses as specified in Title 7, or common law crimes involving election laws where not superseded, or a crime arising out of or in connection with the election laws, or attempt, aiding, abetting, solicitation, or conspiracy to commit a crime involving the election laws. 

 

It has already been proven beyond a reasonable doubt by the South Carolina Libertarian Party that the South Carolina Republican Party and the South Carolina Democratic Party consistently violate the Title 7 election laws by failing to reorganize their county parties as required by law (SC Code 7-9-10).  By knowingly not reorganizing their county parties, by ignoring the law, the SC Attorney General could conclude that the SC Republican Party and the SC Democratic Party now contains five or more members that have formed to violate Title 7 election laws.  That would make both parties and their members / supporters – criminal gangs.  One could argue that they are the most dangerous criminal gangs in South Carolina.  This could get interesting!

 

Clearly, the legislators did not intend for the public to see the opportunity to use S.141 against the SC Republican Party or the SC Democratic Party – or the General Assembly itself.  One can also argue that the General Assembly is a criminal gang also because clearly five or more of its members are united in criminal activity at any given time.  The lobbyists and their front associations also could fit the definition of criminal gangs, and certainly every police department that daily covers up criminal police misconduct fits the definition of a criminal gang – along with the staff, the people that ignore prison rape and other prison violence everyday in South Carolina or engage in the criminal activity themselves against the inmate population of every county jail and state prison – if S.141 is signed into law a state grand jury could and should investigate these types of criminal gangs also.  Maybe S.141 isn’t so bad after all?

 

The General Assembly did attempt to create an exemption for itself by insisting that a state grand jury should be available to investigate public corruption in South Carolina.  While there remains time, that same General Assembly should amend S.141 to include government corruption.  If the legislators are as serious as they claim about addressing gang activity in South Carolina, and are going to define criminal gang activity as a formal or informal ongoing organization, association, or group that consists of five or more persons who form for the purpose of committing criminal activity and who knowingly and actively participate in a pattern of criminal gang activity, then they must include government corruption in this measure.  What are they afraid of if they have nothing to hide – a favorite oppressive government line of logic they use against you and I, right?

 

And if the General Assembly truly aims to thwart the intimidation or coercion of the civilian population by criminal gangs as expressed in S.141 – then the lawmakers must look at themselves because I am part of that civilian population, I see the General Assembly as a criminal gang, and I am intimidated by its activities – particularly the effort to pass this horrendous piece of legislation that is not even necessary.  After all, there are enough laws in South Carolina to protect the people from injuring one another.

 

There is one thing the General Assembly can do to prove to me that its intend is honorable and noble.  Add a provision to this bill that creates the mechanism for the citizenry to petition for a grand jury investigation and for that same citizenry to be able to select an independent grand jury free from tampering by the SC Attorney General’s office that upon its findings – could mandate that the state prosecute.  Make it twenty thousand signatures.  If the people of South Carolina think there is criminal activity in the SC Statehouse or anywhere else in the state government including the judicial branch, give the people the mechanism to put in motion a grand jury investigation.    To leave this power in the hands of the Attorney General, whether Democrat or Republican, is to deny the people the power to protect themselves from criminal government gang activity. 

 

If the SC General Assembly does not add this provision – then they will prove that it is they that are a criminal gang that aims to oppress, coerce, and intimidate the people of South Carolina. 

 

Call you South Carolina representatives and tell them you want a provision added to this bill that will allow the people of South Carolina to petition and establish independent grand juries free from tampering by the SC Attorney General’s office in further pursuit of ridding South Carolina of criminal gangs.

 

Now listen to them scurry, stammer, and stutter…

 

Contact Information:

 

South Carolina House of Representatives

 

South Carolina Senate

 

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