By Bill Durland, J.D., Ph.D.

On our very local level here in Colorado Springs, it takes some time for the average American to begin to feel the "trickle-down" effect of the monumental governmental transfers of power now underway, but it's a beginning.
Two recent cases in Colorado Springs provide a portent of the future.
Hildenbrandt v. City of Colorado Springs in the courts from June 2004 till
January 2006, was an outgrowth of a criminal case brought against Brian
Hildenbrandt in October 2003 when he came under surveillance, was detained,
arrested, handcuffed, photographed, searched, interrogated and thereafter
transported to a police station, charged with criminal trespass and
subsequently released. The cause of his detention was simply walking legally
along the perimeter of the checkpoints and barricades temporarily but
autocratically established by a group called the NATO Task Force which
planned, coordinated, and enforced through military, local police, and
Colorado Springs City Council cooperation such restraints of American
citizens. While preventing citizens from freely moving within one-third of a
mile of the Broadmoor Hotel, privileged and preferential treatments were
accorded visiting foreign military meeting there in a NATO conference.
Hildenbrandt was there because he was curious as to what may be happening to
our constitutional rights and at one time followed some media personnel
beyond the barriers and was told to come back, which he did. After stopping
behind the blockades, he was again told to leave the area, which he began to
do, but was followed by the military to a point where he was detained by the
city police. An interrogation ensued which caused Hildenbrandt to enquire
whether he was under arrest, or not being so, he believed, he had no
obligation to answer the interrogator¹s questions. He was then told, "You
want to be arrested? We'll arrest you."; Later, it became apparent that his
ponytail and his "looking over his shoulder suspiciously" the police said,
that attracted authorities to him.
His criminal case was dismissed for "insufficient evidence". He then filed
suit for compensation for the violation of his 1st and 4th Amendment rights
and for the expenses he had incurred. After 20 months, the City finally
agreed to compensate him but his trial was obstructed by a judicial ruling
that said that he could not mention in front of a jury anything pertaining
to his unreasonable search and seizure by the police, thus causing him to
settle this case for less than he spent upon it. Although Hildenbrandt is a
member of the Libertarian Party, and professes classical Republican
philosophy as distinguished from Bush's corruption of that, he has similar
views on Presidential powers and civil liberties as those professed by
another group that also attempted to exercise their constitutional rights on
the same day at the NATO conference. Representatives of Citizens for Peace
in Space, Bill Sulzman, Barbara Huber, Mary Lynn Sheetz, Donna Johnson,
Jerry Jacobowitz, and Esther Kisamore, were part of a case brought by ACLU
attorneys requesting that they should be provided a time and a place to
demonstrate their peace and justice values at a site visible to the NATO
conferees, with the use of banners. In July 2005, they went to trial before
a judge who ruled that it was reasonable to deny them such permission. They
have appealed. A secondary issue in both these legal matters was the
unnecessarily over-broad placement of the blockades and barriers obstructing
local citizens.
Finally, one more example in Colorado Springs could illustrate this
trickle-down effect. Most recently, during the MLK anniversary, several
persons who had been participants in a silent community vigil at the Justice
and Peace Commission moved their location to Camp Casey and on the 52nd day
of captivity of Christian Peacemaker Teams hostages, Tom Fox, Jim Loney,
Harmeet Sooden and Norman Kember, of Canada, Great Britain and the U.S.
After the 40th day of consecutive vigiling, they joined a national witness
to the congressional offices by setting out to visit Rep. Hefley and
Senators Allard and Salazar. What happened was unexpected but predictable in
the light of all of the above, as the enforcement of America's version of
the Enabling Act unfolds. With signs and a hooded member depicting detention
and torture of both hostages and detainees, and with a letter to the
representatives, the group received a cordial reception at Representative
Hefley's public office located in a private business building. Next they
walked to Senator Allard's office, also located in a private building. What
happened there is shocking but stereotypical of the climate of fear and
hostility created by the Bush administration's terror hysteria. Access to
the office is through a large open lobby and by elevator or stairs to the
3rd floor. At the second floor level, the group was stopped by two building
managers who described them as "protestors" and demanded that they leave
immediately or the police would be called. The group expressed their right
to see their Senator whereupon one of the managers confronted them with the
admonition "You don't know the Bible! Iraq is Babylon,", apparently referring
to the Book of Revelation. (I have read the Bible, and somewhere it clearly
states, "set the captives free.") He then accused this writer of, for some
reason, being (or looking like) a member of "the Taliban". Members of the
group agreed that he could call the police but they were going to Senator
Allard's office, nonetheless. After forcing them to leave their signs
outside and removing the hood from the "hostage; detainee" they entered
Allard's office along with four summoned city police and the two managers.
The group was then able, in a rather disjointed way, to present their letter
and views to an office manager who was unaware they were coming or and who
knew nothing about the hostages. From there they went to Senator Salazar's
office, which was closed but later, a representative from his office
telephoned, having read the letter dropped off for Salazar.
When Americans, without further ado, who exercise some sort of power,
accuse other Americans, just by looking at them, as Talibans and protestors
(which shouldn't be a cause of hostility anyway) we can experience the
effect of the change of national atmosphere in our freedoms. Christian
Peacemaker Teams does humanitarian, nonviolent work in Palestine, Iraq and
elsewhere and three Colorado Springs residents are members and know two of
the hostages well. Why is it so in America that when such people demonstrate
against hostage and detainee taking, whether they be by Americans or others,
that becomes such an issue? The answer is that the people state is becoming,
slowly and subtly, a police state even in Colorado Springs.

About the Autor: Bill Durland is a civil rights attorney, Professor of Philosophy, a former
NSA intelligence analyst, and a member of the Pikes Peace Justice and Peace
Commission and ACLU.