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Is Free Speech Still Alive at City Council Meetings?

Posted on Nov 04, 2015

Mike Hanson was arrested recently in Gonzalez, Texas. His crime was speaking out about what he perceives as the federalization of police. Since there is no law like that on the books, he was officially charged with disrupting a meeting and resisting arrest.

Hanson apparently went past his allotted three-minute time limit to speak, and was abruptly dismissed by the chairperson of the city council. What he was complaining about was his belief the town’s local police were collaborating with federal agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE).

Federal agents, wearing baklavas to hide their faces, have conducted raids on homes, shot family pets and placed guns to citizen’s heads, according to Hanson. He also claims there have been asset-forfeiture seizures, an increasingly disturbing practice that has many other groups concerned.

Limiting the time people are allowed to comment at public hearings and meetings is common practice, although the time allotted is usually inadequate for anyone to make strong arguments either in favor of, or against a certain proposal or activity.  Arresting or threatening with arrest anyone going past a time limit was not a common practice, but recently, it seems to be an ever-increasing policy to silence activists. It’s not always the extreme activist that is silenced in such a manner either; consider this.

Are the accusations of Hanson real or delusional?  Consider Tony Castillo, another Gonzalez resident, who says that masked federal agents set off “flash-bang” grenades and entered his home at 5:00 a.m. on September 23 of this year. The agents pointed guns at Castillo and his family, including his 13-year-old stepson.  Jewelry and several thousand dollars from a tax refund were found in his safe and seized. After being detained for hours, he was given a citation for having drug paraphernalia.

The para-military type raids conducted by federal agents and even local police have been increasing and some believe we are on the way to a full-blown police state.

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