“That’s One Heavily Armed Recreational Vehicle”*–Bill Murray

April 2, 2009

  • Okay, the Homeland Security RV wasn’t actually heavily armed, but it’s always nice to be able to use a “Stripes” quote.

John Galt headed over to the east side over the weekend to look over the wares at The Biking Life magazine’s swap meet in Collinsville, Illinois. I totally shouldn’t spend the money,but I can’t resist looking at bike parts and accessories.

It was raining, and as I drove up, I thought there were automobile wrecks on the road–on both sides of the road there were police cars with flashing lights. Then I saw the Homeland Security recreational vehicle drive up. Then I looked over at the gas station and saw a police sniper with a rifle inside a bright blue Wal-Mart tent on the roof. It clicked then, but it was hard to believe–this MASSIVE show of force was in response to the swap meet.

The organizers of the swap meet had allowed the various biker clubs to wear their colors, see. I went inside, paid the entrance fee, and saw at least 20 police officers inside, one of whom was taking photographs of many of the attendees. Later in the day, I saw a K9 unit outside. This was in addition to the well-organized private security that had been arranged by the hall or organizer.

Nothing happened while I was there. For what it’s worth, the cops all seemed like very nice people. So were the bikers. I can see some concern if this had been a competitive-type thing, a bike show or such, or if it were at night and there was alcohol involved. But for Pete’s sake, it was just people out shopping. There were families with children in the hall, and senior citizens. No one misbehaved, and no one was scared of the “big, bad bikers.”

A cop or two, I can see. If something _had_ happened, they could have called for help swiftly. But a sniper? A police photographer taking photos of people shopping? Homeland freaking Security? This must have cost the town of Collinsville thousands of dollars its generally working-class taxpayers can’t afford. It was all a bit of overkill, to say the least. I would not have believed it if I hadn’t seen it. Again, I don’t fault the police, who were very professional. However, the Libertarian in me was troubled by the excessive show of force to police a swap meet.

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