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Run-ins with authorities

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Run-ins with authorities

Postby Strider » Mon Jan 09, 2012 8:39 am

(With apologies to current rangers and law enforcement personnel who have a tough job dealing with survivalist militia types.)

A comment by Troutdog 59 in the Fishing Hole brought up memories of 70's Sierra trips. We had just finished lunch at Okie Frijole's in Fresburg, where the local old ladies were staring at us longhairs from LA through their lipstick-case mirrors, and were heading towards Sequoia on Hwy 198 when I flipped off a narc in an unmarked car who had cut me off. Of course he slammed me over the hood and frisked me, but my brother had our stash pretty well buried in his backpack.

He grudgingly sent us on our way, and we had a great trip over Silliman Pass. I'm sure there must be worse horror stories out there. Curious if the east side was as backward as the Central Valley in those days.
'Hike long and perspire'



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Re: Run-ins with authorities

Postby TahoeJeff » Mon Jan 09, 2012 12:16 pm

survivalist militia types
Ummm, yeah...
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Re: Run-ins with authorities

Postby RoguePhotonic » Mon Jan 09, 2012 2:44 pm

I know in today's world of increasing tyranny and despotism it's the proper position to see militia "types" as "crazies" because they are freedom loving Americans who believe in and follow the principles that America was founded on but lets try not to hate!

As for your incident what exactly happened when you flipped him off? He activated some sort of lights you could not see to signal you to pull over? Laws of course always become complicated but I don't think they had the authority to pull you over in an unmarked vehicle. Your offensive gesture is protected under the first amendment meaning you did not have to exit the vehicle or submit to a search. And of course being assaulted is grounds for suing or if you want to go there legitimate right under the law to resist with force this assault from an officer of the law.

Yeah yeah I know what country do we live in again? China? Wait it's supposed to be America? Let me check my map...

I know I probably piss off allot of people but that's ok. I love America which means I hate this country. I'll let you figure out what that means.
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Re: Run-ins with authorities

Postby markskor » Mon Jan 09, 2012 6:12 pm

Digging up a past story...think it fits in here.
I was there - the incident at Stoneman Meadow.



The Flat Straw Hats…at Stoneman Meadow 3/18/2006

Yosemite National Park, federal land…federal regulations: the Valley floor is an established metropolis. Make no mistake; there are many grocery stores, a library, housing, sanitation departments, fast food…all the infrastructure necessary to support 20,000 strong, each crowded summer night. Yosemite has its own police force (straw hats, horses, and badges), its own legal classifications, its own jail, its own judge, and its own specific procedures for handling any infringing situation, big or small, real or imagined. Located just west of the stone Wilderness Center building, a well-built but ancient fortified bastion, the YNP police building – YNP operates under federal law and all that that entails. The building itself imposes its somber presence on any who dare enter there. Heavy bars locking cold – secure, impersonal…not totally unlike entering the regime of a military foreign country.

Once, many years back, some beautiful woman foolishly coerced me into going there in order to bail out a casual acquaintance, her boyfriend – (She said she did not have any current ID with her, and there was only a $25 fine) – I was duped. Little did I know how the local constabulary operates... by its own time-tested methodology. Knocking initially, someone unseen allowed me entrance into the police building’s front door – easily (friendly too)…then, asking me to produce my license, and subsequently directing me to the second floor in order to post the pre-stipulated fine. At the top, entering another room to post the bond, the upstairs doors quickly slammed shut behind, heavy bars securing me almost immediately; my identification then taken, copied, and scrutinized even before a chance of any word spoken; (Had I known how YNP treated the innocent, I might not have entered there after all.) They finally allowed my posting of another’s bail, (for someone I barely knew) - after running all my personal statistics…in depth… through their official master federal computer, only then releasing me, allowing me to escape into the daylight (freedom) – at last. I guess I passed muster, but I vowed never to tempt fate there again – who really knows about any dubious recorded past crimes and the fact you are on federal land… (Just a word to the wise here.)

I suppose there are valid reasons for the Gestapo-ish treatment. Park Bums (PBs) in Yosemite are notorious for spending long weeks, months even, without venturing away from summer’s easy living on the Valley floor, surviving well, only on the money garnered from collecting empty cans. At ten cents a can, (the current park redemption value) an enterprising collector can easily amass $30 - $50 a day, just going through the many common trash receptacles on an easy afternoon stroll. Protecting basic family units from the likes of these PB rapscallions must be a full time job, for all the time that YNP dutifully devotes to this ongoing project. In retrospect though, without the parks constant vigilance, many others of highly questionable character would easily join the scofflaw ranks here, living off the dregs that others throw away, increasing the crime rate, and bring down the quality of life throughout the entire park. Therefore, in this particular case, I salute the rangers – a job well done… kudos to them all!

Yes, the presence of the YNP police is a necessary evil, one specific walk-in campground (intentionally un-named here) is especially vulnerable to the whims of the opportunists staying there; in an instant, routinely taking any unguarded piece of equipment left susceptible - gone. Once unknowingly, setting up my tent in this campground across from the Lodge, leaving an expensive stove, a WM Apache bag, and my personal climbing rack, hopefully safe, stashed out of sight inside, I returned a few hours later (lunch at Degnan’s), only to find someone had relieved me of all these cherished valuables – surprise. No one there admitted seeing anything amid the crowded camp confines. I guess I should consider myself lucky that my Gregory Shasta did not walk away too – perhaps they were saving that one for the later late-afternoon raid…sigh. Contacting the local ranger to report the theft, they told me that this type of activity was rampant there – the climbers living there taking care of their own (“taking” the operative word here) - beware.

Twenty years back or so, the park attempted to provide the backpackers an alternative - another walk-in campground option – Yellow Pine they called it – down Valley, across the Merced from Yosemite Lodge. It was just far enough away from the masses, across a bridge and ¼ mile down the trail from anywhere important, conveniently out of earshot of the regular family gatherings. I stayed there more than once, more than adequate, somewhere for those of us without cars, temporarily down from the high country, a place to camp without disturbing the rest of the Valley. YNP regularly policed this camp; making sure all paid the minimal required fee ($2 per night), and just generally making their presence known to all who used this Yellow Pine campground. The park service police came at night too – late night – on their regularly scheduled patrol; writing out $25 tickets to anyone found sleeping outside of the designated sites located there.

I remember a good friend, camping right across from me, innocently quiescent in his sleeping bag, atop a plastic ground cloth, the ranger rudely awakening him early morning (5 AM?) there for having the bottom half of his bag just outside of the staked boundary. He got the $25 ticket and we joked afterwards that it only should have been $12.50, as half of him remained legal throughout the entire ordeal. About fifteen years ago, in the great Valley spring flood, this specific campground washed away, and the powers of Yosemite never re-opened it, or even sought another in the same location; I suppose that it was, at best, a temporary experiment - failed. Please forgive these ramblings, as I am just intending to give some background to the thought patterns that must certainly go through the heads of the rangers as they constantly patrol this, our magnificent park. They are thankfully present here for our protection, and without their continued presence, the park would not be the Eden that it is today. Eventually, they opened the present BP campground...and here they have learned to mostly leave us alone...Thank God.

This story actually begins much earlier, July 2, 1970, to be exact, on my first unsupervised “non-parental” visit to Yosemite National Park. (I realize that I already documented this story once before on the earlier “lost forum”, so anyone who has already read it; much apologies for the redundancy.) There were four of us, freshmen all from UCLA – summer vacation – not old enough to drink but self-admittedly wise beyond our years. We were young, opinionated, stupid, and cocky…not totally unlike the characters portrayed on today’s TV comedy “The 70’s Show” – in all regards … but without the foreign kid. Ron had a yellow Volkswagen van; underpowered…slow…I still do not know how it made it up the hill from Fresno. (It did get great gas mileage though, even though gas only cost $.25 a gallon back then.) We all were backpackers – or so we thought – our gear packed - ready, intending to try the cables of Half Dome for the first time via the Mist Trail – a three or four-day adventure at best - tomorrow. Arriving in the park, we set up camp in one of the pre-reserved sites there – I forget which one, but it was one of the established family sites – camp set, we eventually made our way down to Curry Village, primarily for pizza, but also to check out the babes, and to hang.

Growing up in California in the 70’s, one cannot help recalling the experience - the influence of the Haight-Ashbury scene, and all that those days entailed. Much akin to the San Francisco concert scene of that era, one could not stroll past the concert lines at the Fillmore Auditorium or Winterland – (before a Janis Joplin or a Jimi Hendrix concert?) without many the muted whisper, the offer of marijuana - available for sale. Curry Village, at that time, had much of that same flavor, that meadow to the immediate north, un-roped, no restrictions at that time - free then to use, (not like today’s designation – seemingly always under constant re-construction)… hundreds of youngsters wandering about – unsupervised – 70’s style. There we were, in the green soft meadow, diverse groups of people, circles… in the tall grass sitting, playing music, “grooving on the scene”, and getting high. (Though, unlike the documented confessions of former President Clinton, we did inhale.) Before I proceed any further, some clarification is in order here; I am not advocating any illicit or illegal behavior, only relating a historic event – a true story that occurred long ago, when we were all much younger.

That night, we retired to our campsite, amazed at the great weather, the scenery, our freedom, and good fortune; we even voted among ourselves, deciding to postpone our backpacking adventure one extra day in order again to revisit the meadow tomorrow – there was great fun there. The next day, much like the day preceding, the meadow quickly filled with pungent circles of instant friends, some playing music …guitars and flutes – some singing along, some playing drums on coffee cans or whatever…others just listening quietly…all enjoying the essence of the high granite walls, the waterfalls, the music, and the pot. I recall somebody selling three-finger, $10 bags: Acapulco Gold, Thai stick. There was no thought of any violence…at least not from the meadow crowd. This unbridled activity remained much the same all afternoon, from noon until about three… the meadow definitely had that distinct San Francisco concert flavor and aroma – with all the desired accouterments and trimmings. Then, around three in the afternoon, all things changed – forever; that is the day I realized - I grew up.

From out of the north hidden, out from behind the trees, unannounced, 30 – 50 mounted police charged violently into the previously peaceful “hippie” circles. Riot helmets now replaced the familiar straw ranger hat, batons swinging freely…horses galloping…vengeance rampant. Not seeming to care whether they attacked innocent or guilty, anybody in the meadow, Stoneman Meadow, became fair game for anyone caught under the federal police onslaught.

Boldly charging at anyone available, horses trampled teenagers, batons swung in anger… intending carnage on any person within arm’s reach, it was pure unmitigated rage. In the meadow, a small meandering stream wandered, still visible today, but only from outside the current roped walls of restriction. As the youths scattered in fear, many blindly tripped over this stream, falling hard and getting up, only to encounter again, immediately afterwards, more batons swung at their heads - anger. There was complete chaos, something similar to the conditions born out of the documentation seen of the Chicago or the Watts riots; I remember the blood-red rage in the eyes of the mounted rangers – nothing peaceful there – only blatant animosity shown for all those unfortunate to be on the grounds. The only difference between the published riots seen on TV, and those experienced here, was that the victims here were mostly all underage white kids.

Losing sight of my cohorts, I remember a young girl, falling into the stream, a charging horse trampling her, blood spurting profusely from the wounds on her back. Another kid, my age, fell hard, breaking his leg…the bone protruding out from under the skin…the mounted police reaction - smiling broadly at the sight below, obviously seeing the pain but oblivious of any feeling or empathy. I escaped shortly, heading for the road nearest Curry Village, almost making it too before losing consciousness from an unseen baton swing - a blow to the back of my head. Somehow, someone thankfully pulled me up, saving me from certain arrest – (many were not so lucky), but my further recollections of the rest of that afternoon (and the next day too) fuzzy at best. When I shut my eyes though, the vivid recollections of the obvious hatred instantly return; my preconceived notions of family-taught police fairness gone – now replaced by brutality etched dramatically by their hostility.

Thinking back, Yosemite did have to do something; blatant dope smoking is definitely something you do not want within the National Park boundaries, especially in the middle of the Valley proper – YNP did have the right. Yes, we all were illegally smoking pot openly, unconcealed, totally breaking the law – stupid. I think however, that the response was perhaps a bit heavy-handed – over the top, and conceivably, the YNP could have handled the situation quite differently if they had a mind to. One or two mounted police – wearing the familiar flat straw hats we all know and see today – feasibly would have had the same desired effect on us. A few police cars with bullhorns might have gotten the point across non-violently; instead, the park simply demonstrated brute violence as its primary option, intending a massive show of force to get its point across. From the shear numbers of mounted police on hand, this was an obviously a pre-rehearsed and well-thought out ploy. This tactic certainly worked, but is there any wonder why today’s youth treat police with suspicion and distrust?…who is actually at blame?...is it all one-sided?

I often think back to that day – my official coming of age - July 3, 1970, especially whenever in the Valley and encountering a mounted YNP ranger. I always look twice to see if he has on a riot helmet or the flat straw hat…at Stoneman Meadow.

Another solo backpacking adventure…by markskor
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Re: Run-ins with authorities

Postby balzaccom » Mon Jan 09, 2012 6:42 pm

Gosh...

The worst I can come up with is back in the early '70s, when a back country ranger insisted that my friend and I put clothes on at Lower Ottaway Lake. We were sunbathing...and the ranger informed us that there were other people at the lake.
That's about it...
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Re: Run-ins with authorities

Postby Troutdog 59 » Wed Jan 11, 2012 6:13 pm

Strider wrote:(A comment by Troutdog 59 in the Fishing Hole brought up memories of 70's Sierra trips. .


What did I say that made you think of this? I cant recall posting anything about being hassled by the authorities when I was young. It did happen some as is to be expected growing up in the 70's with long hair, but what did I say. Curious I am.
If you stand in the light, you get the feel of the night, and the music that plays in your ear......
In your mind you can hear, a voice so sweet and clear, and the music that plays in your head......
As it flows up from the ground, taking all that hear the sound, close your eyes, it’s about to begin.

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Re: Run-ins with authorities

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Jan 11, 2012 7:46 pm

No run ins with anyone myself, but I do know someone who launched into the wilderness and got as far as Ottoway Lake and got caught without a wilderness permit. He was fined and hiked back to the car by the ranger.

all my encounters with the law ended peacefully, or were me requesting help on the behalf of someone.
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Re: Run-ins with authorities

Postby rlown » Wed Jan 11, 2012 7:52 pm

yeah.. I had some who came late towards Glen Aulin. They got turned around by a Ranger on horseback. Just get the permit. This guy never get's along with rangers, or law enforcement of any kind; hence, the turnback. Sometimes, it's just best to be nice.
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Re: Run-ins with authorities

Postby mokelumnekid » Wed Jan 11, 2012 9:42 pm

I've had encounters with Rangers and they were all about some person just trying to do their job. They don't make the laws but have to enforce them. The situation (ongoing) in Yosemite Valley is not typical of my back country experience, but I understand why the memory of that '70's event lingers. It was historic and I remember it. I was a 'long hair' in those days but living in the valley and especially the foothills- redneck haven- one learned when to fly their freak flag and when to be chill as a survival skill.

For me, then as now, I'm way more worried about nut jobs packing weapons, playing out some 'wild west' fantasy in the back country, or the endless stream of people who feel that sensible low-impact regulations don't apply to them, a mentality that is usually accompanied by a belligerent attitude toward those who do . I've seen some horror shows in campgrounds (again not wilderness) with fist-fights, gunshots, garbage and enough bad behavior to make me damn glad that someone out there is putting on the badge each day to somehow manage to keep some kind of peace.

I guess in summary, I wasn't hassled by Rangers back in the day anymore than I was by the law in general. I can't single them out as being especially out of line, and in fact were generally just trying to stay on top of it all.
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Re: Run-ins with authorities

Postby sparky » Sun Jan 15, 2012 12:43 pm

My lengthy reply was accidentally deleted. Yeah I have been hassled by authorities in National Parks and elsewhere.

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Pack the 9, fire it at prime time
Sleeping gas every home is like Alcatraz,
Muthaf*%kaz lost thier minds!"

Our rights are slipping away......

Read this [web_site] http://forums.lycaeum.org/index.php?topic=32818.0 [/web_site]
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Re: Run-ins with authorities

Postby Cross Country » Sun Jan 15, 2012 4:49 pm

Markskor's recount is a profound commentary and I believe should not be minimized by anyone. We are a country of laws and what happened was illegal, criminal, brutal, absolutely unacceptable and a lesson to ALL of us. I too have had encounters with rangers acting illegally. They, of all people, should (in my opinion) act within the law at ALL times. They represent the law and all of us, out country, and our liberties. They (in my opinion) need to err on the side of liberty nearly every time because power corrupts. Is there anybody here who doesn't believe that? Markskor"s account is not unique but nevertheless (I believe) it should be extremely noteworthy and educational to all of us.
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Re: Run-ins with authorities

Postby gdurkee » Fri Jan 20, 2012 8:21 pm

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Where to begin amongst this strange mishmash of distorted information??

I don't think they had the authority to pull you over in an unmarked vehicle. Your offensive gesture is protected under the first amendment meaning you did not have to exit the vehicle or submit to a search.

Mostly, no. That's not correct. An officer can pull you over and, in an unmarked vehicle, presumably had "take down "lights to identify the vehicle and occupant as LE -- or why would Strider have pulled over? The offensive gesture might be protected if it went to court, but if you refuse to pull over you're just setting off a whole chain of stuff you don't want. You have to obey all lawful orders, and you're not really in a position to determine what's lawful until the officer tells you why you've been pulled over. If it is unlawful, then you can complain, file a civil action, whatever you want.

Yosemite has its own police force (straw hats, horses, and badges), its own legal classifications, its own jail, its own judge, and its own specific procedures for handling any infringing situation,


The "police force" are called rangers, both then (1970) and now. The "legal classifications" are called, um, laws -- they're federal and not unique to Yosemite. You went into a jail -- exactly what kind of security do you think a jail has, whatever jurisdiction you're in? Let's not over dramatize it because it's in the bucolic setting of Yosemite. There's a lot of authentically bad, unpleasant people in the world. When you get those sorts of numbers of visitors, X% of them are going to need some level of intervention from law enforcement (aka rangers). So when someone is arrested, would you rather they hang out in jail and are then transported 2 hours to the one in Merced, then wait a day or more to be seen by a federal judge or, as in Yosemite, seen by the resident federal magistrate?

The building itself imposes its somber presence on any who dare enter there.

The building used to be the maintenance shop. Get a grip... .

There we were, in the green soft meadow, diverse groups of people, circles… in the tall grass sitting, playing music, “grooving on the scene”, and getting high. .....
From out of the north hidden, out from behind the trees, unannounced, 30 – 50 mounted police charged violently into the previously peaceful “hippie” circles. Riot helmets now replaced the familiar straw ranger hat, batons swinging freely…horses galloping…vengeance rampant. Not seeming to care whether they attacked innocent or guilty, anybody in the meadow, Stoneman Meadow, became fair game for anyone caught under the federal police onslaught.


Well, you get some points. It was badly handled in the sense that rangers then weren't trained for riot or crowd control. Neither were the police in Berkeley or the National Guard at Kent State. There's an unfortunate learning curve.

You forgot to mention the bikers out in Stoneman Meadow with their motorcycles. You seem to have missed several rangers who spent the previous day and the day of what became a riot out talking to people and asking them to leave the meadow because of the damage being done, the garbage being left and the overall effect of having 300+ people getting high and grooving in a fragile meadow in a National Park. And the haze of THC may also have caused you to forget the warnings and orders to disperse delivered by bullhorn ahead of the "charge." This is all on film.

Markskor's recount is a profound commentary and I believe should not be minimized by anyone. We are a country of laws and what happened was illegal, criminal, brutal, absolutely unacceptable and a lesson to ALL of us.


I don't want to come down too hard here, but the lesson is try to get the facts right. It was none of those things.

No question it was a bad day for NPS rangers and their image. It's likely it could have been handled much better but poor training on the part of the rangers and unreasoning defiance on the part of the gathering doomed the whole thing. Reasoning with the people in the meadow was not working. The Berkeley Barb had been running articles encouraging
young, opinionated, stupid, and cocky
people just like you to go to Yosemite and take over the park. How do you think that was going to go?

The semi-good news is NPS radically changed their training and standards starting shortly after that. They tried to gear programs more towards the "young, stupid & cocky" to educate them on what parks are about and why certain things are not allowed. And, best of all, they hired me to "better relate to youth" -- ta da!

There's this disconnect in accepting the fact that parks need law enforcement rangers to protect the parks from all sorts of people running amok -- drunks on roads, vandals, people with guns etc. Two weeks ago, a guy who had just shot several people had blown past a chain control at Mount Rainier. When a ranger set up to stop him, he shot and killed her. The road ended at a snow play area where families were enjoying a day in their park. He was stopped before he got there. What do you suppose might have happened had trained law enforcement rangers not responded to stop him?

She left behind a husband (also a ranger) and two small children.

They (in my opinion) need to err on the side of liberty nearly every time because power corrupts.

Sure, there's a few (a very few) bad rangers out there but I gotta say, incidents such as are implied here (gestapo tactics...) are incredibly rare when actually examined. Rangers have an assault rate on them almost the equivalent to that of a city police department. I'm not sure what is meant by "erring on the side of liberty" but I do know that the FBI determined it was the friendly, trusting officer (all officers nationwide) who was most likely to get killed in the line of duty.

Jeez, this was way too long. But this black helicopter, jack-booted thug paranoid nonsense drives me absolutely buggy. By any standard you'd care to name, we have a much more open, enfranchised and freer society than, say, 30 years ago.

George
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