Last Monday, attorney Barbara Arnwine was rudely awakened by the sounds of a police raid on her home. Arnwine is not really the type you'd expect SWAT teams to be targeting. She's the Executive Director for the Lawyers' Committee on Civil Rights and is actively challenging Voter ID laws around the country, as depicted in the video at the top.
Via Politics on Point:
While Arnwine and members of the Lawyers Committee are calling for the Department of Justice to stop what she, and others call ‘assaults’ on voters, she found her and own family under assault.
She, her son, and nephew were all held at gun point while the officers raided her home.
The reason has yet to be determined.
According to Arnwine, it appears that they were randomly fishing, possibly as an intimidation tactic. Here's audio of an interview she did with a local radio station:
Arnwine said the officers even went as far as to demean her education asking her in derogatory fashion, where did she go to school and the year she graduated as to suggest she wasn’t properly credentialed. When she told the officers that their actions weren’t warranted and she knew her constitutional rights she was met with ‘they don’t apply here today’.
The officers, with guns drawn, challenged Arnwine and her family, suggesting that if they made one wrong move, she and her family would be met with a unfavorable-like fate.
“Don’t make me hurt you” seemed to be the order of the day, recounted Arnwine.
Arnwine later said after the police failed to produce a warrant, and acted as though they didn’t know who she was, misspelling her name, that she thinks the swat team had the wrong house. She called the ordeal a “fishing exposition”.
The timing certainly seems suspect:
On November 16, Arwine testified at a voter 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 with Rev. Jackson Jr, 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.
These tactics aren't new. They're used routinely, especially with people of color. But they are egregious, particularly when Arnwine's line of work is taken into account. It does appear to be what she says: An effort to intimidate and demean her.
They've got good reason to be afraid of Ms. Arnwine. She is well-known on Capitol Hill, has testified at many Congressional hearings, and is a fierce advocate for civil rights and economic justice. This year she was awarded the Gruber International Justice Prize for her work promoting equal justice.
The police may have chosen the wrong woman to harass and intimidate. Evidently they're claiming they had the wrong address, an excuse that sounds laughable and ridiculous. At the very least, it makes them look like buffoons and fools, which I suppose might be better than looking like evil thugs. I'm sure we haven't heard the last of this. I'll update with any information available.