Friday, February 20, 2004

An Example of a Police State in Action

KABA Writer Investigated for
Questioning Civil Authority

Police say Investigation

from Angel Shamaya

February 19, 2004 -- Did
you know that writing a rhetorical letter to the civil authorities in California
challenging their hypocrisy results in a police investigation that includes not
only calls from detectives but two black and white police cruisers coming to
your home?

That's what happened to longtime gun rights
activist and professional writer David Codrea this week. What follows is a link
to the investigation-inspiring letter, a detailed description of what transpired
and a description of how trying to get our own answers from the investigators
resulted in unwillingness to respond to our simple, reasonable inquiry.

Before you read this, you should know a little
bit about David Codrea. He lives in Redondo Beach, California with his wife and
two young sons. He's been active in the gun rights community for over a decade.
He's a professional gun writer for such magazines as Guns & Ammo, most
recently published in their HANDGUNS
Feb/March 2004 issue
. He's a featured writer for and has held a seat on KABA's Advisory Board for years. He
co-founded and the now
disbanded pro gun media-campaigning organization, Citizens of America. He
spearheaded the Petition for the Enforcement of the Second
and was one of a handful of insiders helping hone and tighten the
legal writing done in the Silveira v. Lockyer
Second Amendment lawsuit the U.S. Supreme Court recently refused to hear. David
Codrea cares about freedom, and he works within the confines of "the
system" to help defend gun owners and their rights.

Earlier this week, Codrea wrote
a letter
to San Francisco's Mayor, a superior court judge and the SFPD acting police
chief. The letter was rhetorical in nature and pointed out the inconsistency in
San Fran's civil enforcement strategies. Civil authorities are sitting by while
thousands of same-sex marriages are performed in contravention of State law. In
his letter, to point out the hypocrisy of ignoring some laws while enforcing
others, Codrea rhetorically (and humorously, might I add) asked what would
happen if he chose to violate a different law -- the ban on carrying a firearm
for self-defense. Read the letter for yourself, right here:

As a result of that letter, SFPD launched an
investigation of Codrea that included a call from an inspector at SFPD and a
visit to his home by police in his local California community. According to SFPD,
it is "an ongoing investigation." What follows is a description of
Codrea's experience, in his own words. Below that is a description of additional
research done on behalf of in an attempt to determine what
exactly has happened here -- and why.


I was at work yesterday afternoon when my wife called me. There was a message on our answering machine from "Inspector Walsh" of the San Francisco Police Department asking me to call and leaving his number. Of course it was about the letter, so I called him back, curious to know what he wanted, but mindful that I should be extremely careful speaking to the police. First, I checked the internet, to make sure the area code and prefix number he gave matched SFPD's.

I got his voicemail, found out his first name was "Peter," and left a message, saying I assumed he was calling in response to my satirical article, and gave him my cell phone number. He called me back within 5 or 10 minutes.

I should explain that the following is my best recollection. The words won't exactly match what was said, but the intent will. I assume it is standard procedure for him to have recorded the
call -- I didn't ask and he didn't volunteer. Perhaps he will correct any misstatements or faulty recollections on my part.

I also debated internally whether I should call him at all, or only speak through an attorney. I decided I would try handling things by myself first, as I had done nothing
criminal -- plus, I figured if I escalated it to legal formalities, they could opt to do the same, and I didn't want to have cops show up at the time and place of their choosing, especially if it would impact my livelihood.

He said he was, indeed, calling about the letter, and explained that it was routine to investigate communications where a potential threat existed because they get all kinds of letters, emails and calls from all kinds of people. He said he got the "gist" of what I was saying in my letter, but wanted to follow up with me.

He asked if I owned an AR-15. I replied that if I did, I'd not be inclined to answer that question and waive my Fifth Amendment rights, and if I had something to hide, why wouldn't I just lie about it? But then I told him I wouldn't lie to him, and said "No," which is the truth.

He asked if I intended to come to San Francisco armed and enact the scenario in my letter. I told him of course not, that my letter was obviously rhetorical and designed to point out the hypocrisy and lawlessness of San Francisco government ignoring state laws that they don't want to obey, yet using the law to enforce those, such as disarmament edicts, that they perceive being to their advantage.

He asked if I had communicated with anyone else, received any emails from supporters who might want to join me in coming armed to SF City Hall (and generally waive my Fourth Amendment rights). I told him "No," and that if I ever received a communication from someone urging me to engage in illegal activities I would assume that person to be an agent provocateur trying to entrap me.

I told him that a check of my published writings would prove to him that I have always gone out of my way to urge people to use lawful and peaceful means of redress, even when it looks like the system is abandoning us, and mentioned my involvement in the
Silveira case.

I also remember telling him that the point of my letter was to attack the lawlessness of the mayor's and other officials' actions, and really had nothing to do with any philosophical position on gay marriage, and that I encouraged gays to realize that they have a right to keep and bear arms to protect their lives and liberty.

I told him my questions in the letter were obviously rhetorical, that I was obviously making a point, and he again admitted he got the "gist" of it, but asked what if someone else didn't, and acted on it.

I told him there is a lot of emotion being generated over Mel Gibson's upcoming "The Passion of the Christ," and I really hoped no altercations broke out between protestors and moviegoers, but that it wouldn't be Gibson's fault if they
did -- that we can't be afraid to express strong and controversial political statements because someone might misinterpret our intent and act improperly.

He explained several times that it was just routine to follow up on things like this, that his job was apolitical, and they just have to investigate. I told him I understood that, and hoped he also understood what a chilling effect a police response to political speech created.

He indicated I did not sound like a threat and sounded "intelligent".

I was left with the impression that they were probably not going to put much more energy into
it -- although I would be surprised if they haven't checked my background, records and gun purchases, and wouldn't be surprised if a judge didn't consider the circumstances probable cause to tap into my phone and
internet. But anyone who is an activist is an automatic target, especially if it's about something that scares the hell out of civil authority (people with guns!!!), and I've felt there's probably a good chance the government has been doing that for some time.

He told me he had also asked the Redondo Beach Police to drop a message off at my home as backup to the message he left on my machine, so to just ignore the message they delivered. We then said our goodbyes.

The tone throughout was polite, but guarded. There was a bit of fencing going on, he probing to see if I sounded like a threat or to see if I could be prodded into saying anything incriminating, and me trying my best to protect my interests yet still present myself as candid and truthful.

My wife called me about an hour later to say that the RBPD had sent two black and whites to our house. Two officers came to the door. She informed them I had already spoken to the Inspector. One officer called into dispatch and they confirmed this and left.

I do find it bizarre that civil authority is so fearful of an armed citizenry that if they feel there is any chance of it happening, their response is to send armed men. It also confirms my opinion of the corrupt gangsters in charge of San Francisco's city
government -- ready to use the force of law to advance their agenda, but publicly flout the law when it doesn't.

David Codrea

February 18, 2004


On behalf of, I asked Brian Puckett to contact Peter
Walsh -- the officer who conducted the phone interview of David Codrea regarding his article.
We published Codrea's letter, and we have a vested interest in this matter.
After all, we publish the email addresses of various public servants from time
to time, encouraging The People to share their thoughts. We'd like to know if
doing so is now considered justification for investigations being launched
against our members.

Puckett called Walsh and left a message on the afternoon of Feb.
17. He left another message on the morning of Feb. 18. He finally received a callback
on Wednesday afternoon from an SFPD employee in the public relations department.
Puckett wasn't sure if it was an officer or not.

The SFPD "public relations" person indicated that he couldn't answer any questions about the case since it was an "ongoing

"I made certain we were talking about David Codrea," reports Puckett,
"to which he responded in the affirmative. I was able to ask two general questions, but he wouldn't answer any questions that remotely touched on this investigation."

Among the general questions Puckett
asked that the SFPD official was willing to answer: "What is the Special
Investigations Division?" of which Peter Walsh is a member.

The response was that they "investigate protection [security?] matters, bomb threats, gang related matters, and hate crimes."

The only other question SFPD's "public
relations" person would answer is this:

"If a person were investigated by the Special Investigations Division, how could that person find out what the final results were, or get any documents related to that investigation?"

The response was that he would have to "contact the investigating officer".
"Peter Walsh, in this case?" asked Puckett. And the SFPD PR guy said yes.

According to Mr. Puckett, per SFPD's public
relations department, the intent of the
SFPD interview of Codrea -- and the subsequent visit by two black and whites
at Codrea's home -- was, supposedly, "to determine if Codrea was threatening someone in San Francisco."
Again, read the letter if you haven't done so, and decide for yourself if the
letter genuinely merited such strong-arm tactics:


Following are the questions Brian Puckett
wanted to ask, most of which were stonewalled:

1. Exactly what is the special investigations
unit? (This question was more or less answered.)

2. Who ordered the investigation?

3. Who asked that the Redondo Beach black and
white units be sent to Mr. Codrea's house?

4. Why were two units sent?

5. Why would Redondo Beach take time out for
such a questionable mission on the word of a distant police dept.?

6. Did the SFPD actually view this as a
credible threat to someone?

7. Is any further investigation of this writer
contemplated? (This has been answered as it is claimed to be an "ongoing

8. Is this investigation of the kind that SFPD
might have a writer's or reporter's -- or specifically Mr. Codrea's -- phone or
phones tapped?

But civil authorities who send police cars to
your house for writing a rhetorical letter don't have to answer questions,
apparently -- even when their actions amount to harassment and intimidation.


On a personal note, since San Francisco police
are in the mood to investigate armed political activist-writers around here --
with all the extra time they have while ignoring massive group violations of
state laws -- I'd like to invite them to read the following and respond:

Message to Police & Other Law
Enforcement Personnel from

That was published in our "Messages
to Police Officers" archive
on 9/12/2000 and has not been edited since.
So much time has passed I don't recall if I authored it or if it was a joint
effort between myself and others. But I certainly take full responsibility for
it. And I look forward to reading a thorough and thoughtful response from anyone
associated with the San Francisco Police Department -- especially acting police chief Fong,
Peter Walsh and San Francisco's new mayor.

Finally, on behalf of myself, David Codrea and, I want to make one thing very very clear. Codrea's
letter to the San Francisco investigation-launchers was not a statement about
whether or not California's law banning same-sex marriages is right or wrong. If
that had been his intent, we would not have published it; the issue is too
divisive to get into considering that it's not our issue. Sexuality issues are not our issues, nor will
they ever be our issues. Our issue is the right of the people to keep and bear
arms in defense of themselves, their loved ones, their community, the state and
our nation. Our Inclusion
is very clear. The gun
rights community is divided enough as it is without trying to get everyone to
agree on not only gun rights but a host of other things. In conclusion, as you
read our Inclusion
, just know this: David Codrea inspired it, and the text was taken
from a very similarly-worded policy of inclusion he created for
The Inclusion Policy has been published at the following
page for two or three years now, and it will stay there as long as we

Angel Shamaya

Founder/Executive Director

(928) 522-8833

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