One might have imagined that the stunning raid conducted by nearly forty Fresno police officers had been directed at a terrorist group, an illegal drug operation, even a gathering of cultists. But what the secret operation descended on was a meeting of multi-level marketers ranging from 27 to 83 years of age. Their common interest in constitutional subjects and a unique method of distributing that information draws them together on a weekly basis in the public meeting area of a local shopping mall. The sheriff's office, however, assigned a more sinister motive. They charged that the group is an illegal pyramid scheme.
Blaine Williams, a distributor of Constitutional Colleagues' products told The WINDS that "the company sells the highest quality video and audio material on the U.S. Constitution by by Dr. Cleon Skousen." Williams feels that Americans must understand the constitutional heritage that has been granted to them. He says it is critical to preserving the inalienable rights granted by God.
"It was an amazing sight," Williams said. The public meeting had been underway approximately fifteen minutes when "the doors were banged violently and shortly after that, they yelled that it was the sheriff. Law enforcement officers literally poured into the room. It appeared that there were as many officers as attendees" to the meeting. Williams, who was speaking to the gathering, was arrested immediately.
Sharon Saunders told The WINDS, "I was shocked. They pounded on the door, then stormed into the room from the front and back. I saw all these armed men, I didn't know if they were police or what. I was standing there in shock." One of the officers approached Saunders, asking her identity. She continued, "They didn't say they had a warrant for my arrest, they just stood there; but when they put the handcuffs on me, I said, 'Do you have a warrant? I'd like to see the warrant."
"Yes, we have it," they said. "Don't worry about that."
After leading her outside into an alley, the officers began questioning Saunders as they rifled through her purse. They removed her driver's license, nearly $1,000 in cash and address books from her purse, listing this on an evidence sheet as "miscellaneous items from purse."
The bizarre episode continued as Saunders waited--hands cuffed tightly behind her back- for approximately two hours in the patrol car while officers searched her husband's Explorer. She tells of painful, swollen, black-and-blue wrists from the experience.
Meanwhile, inside the meeting room, the demeaning encounter continued as officers interrogated those in attendance.
Curtis Riley was present at the meeting when the officers stormed in. He told The WINDS that deputies required identification including name, home address, home telephone number, driver's license number, social security number, place of employment, work address and work telephone number. Notation was also made of the apparel worn by attendees. The ladies were compelled to reveal the contents of their purses and the men to empty their pockets; even the elderly grandmothers in their 80's were subjected to humiliating body searches.
From the shopping mall, the spectacle continued as the entourage pulled up in front of the Saunders' home. She said the neighbors were "freaking out at this scene on the street" as the eight patrol cars parked near the residence and she was led, handcuffed, into her home.
As Saunders, escorted by officers, walked toward her front door, she said, "I was grieved. I felt such grief for the people who had gone through this in the past--Waco, Ruby Ridge--all of those people. My spirit was grieved, I was weeping for all the people who have had their doors knocked down, their lives ruined. I told them [the officers], 'My heart goes out to these people'. I was so saddened, it just broke my heart." The officers, however, were unmoved.
As the search of the home got under way, Saunders, still in handcuffs, sat in the living room with her husband and son under police guard. The search was protracted for several hours as officers combed through the 3600 square foot home. The search warrants were directed at items specific to Constitutional Colleagues, but the officers took particular interest in the family's collection of hunting rifles which were photographed and serial numbers recorded.
Mr. Saunders asked the guard, "can you imagine if this was happening to your family or your parents, how you would feel?" The guard alone responded in a sympathetic manner.
The other officers' demeanor was callous and uncivil. "It was very demeaning," Saunders said, with the officers "pushing you around. I felt like a criminal off the street."
After a local media blitz which portrayed them as scam artists, Saunders' employer may have developed similar criminal concerns. The hospital at which she has been employed for fourteen years called saying, "Don't come in to work. We're investigating you!"
Many people are questioning whether the raid could have been motivated by the nature of the educational materials. With the move afoot in government circles away from nationalism, away from traditional values, the material would run counter to many of today's trends and policies. The course being set for the future of the country was well stated by one United States Representative, "We're going to be practical, not constitutional."
Williams says even the elderly, "wanting to supplement their $490 social security check are getting involved. Grandmothers want to disseminate this information because they've seen the constitutional system being stolen from our children in the school systems; and because of that, thirty-seven law enforcement officers sworn to uphold the U.S. Constitution take this grandmother aside, search her down, go through her purse and violate her person."
The sheriff's professed interest in getting tough on crime comes with a high price tag. The cost to the citizens of Fresno is the loss of their constitutional rights.
The sheriff's investigation seems either flawed or outright corrupt. The charge against the group is that of operating an illegal pyramid scheme. Yet, it is claimed that the sheriff's office has had them under a month-long investigation including the use of an undercover agent planted in their meetings. If the true motive for the strike were to stop criminal activity, the raid would never have been ordered. A candid investigation would have clearly revealed this to be a product-oriented network marketing program, not a pyramid scheme.
Official duplicity is further revealed in the fact that one of the four arrested in the meeting is an active duty sheriff's deputy, who is energetically involved in sharing the program. He would willingly have disclosed any details needed to clarify investigator's questions, but he was not contacted, that is, until his arrest.
Why did the sheriff choose to create a public spectacle? Why did the officers storm the meeting rather than unobtrusively apprehend the four individuals listed on their warrants at their homes while executing the search warrants? Did the sheriff conspire to break up the peaceable assembly, making public arrests to stigmatize and denigrate the constitutional materials in the eyes of the community?
Daniel Furtney has spent the past twenty-nine years as a Fresno County Sheriff Officer. He recently retired and, as a result of an interest in constitutional issues and "what the country once stood for," became involved with Constitutional Colleagues.
Furtney is one of four persons arrested as a result of Fresno County's inquisition into the marketing plan. Furtney said from his experience he has seen a pattern of change taking place within law enforcement in the past several years. "I've seen the government stepping in more heavily handed. In a lot of cases it has been the federal authorities who have totally overstepped their bounds."
Williams says it has been an eye-opening experience that "in a free assembly in America, without any due process of notice and opportunity, law enforcement can storm in and terrorize people."
"The light of judgment must shine upon this type of activity," said Williams. "And this is what we're determined to do. We have no vengeance and no anger toward any of the officers. We know they were just doing what they were trained to do."
Sharon Saunders says, "The country is in serious trouble. I knew the country had problems, but I had no idea it was this far gone."
Former officer Furtney said, "We see this [police raid] as a precursor of things to come. This is some 'live testing' for the future with 'nothing' charges."
Last year in a move having far-reaching implications, President Clinton initiated a program to put 100,000 more police officers on America's streets. He now wants to expand that program seeking an additional $6.4 billion to increase the police force by another 30,000 to 50,000 officers.
It seems that most any proposal that expands federal control and compromises the Constitution needs only to purport to "combat crime" or "protect our children" and it finds the necessary support to make it law. The president said his plan to expand police forces "will be the best investment we can make in a safe future for our children.'' Clinton made his remarks at a police station in Alexandria, Virginia.
Carl Rowan, a Washington, D.C.-based columnist says, "In recent years, partly because of demagoguery from the White House, or politicians seeking the White House, the general U.S. mood has embraced the idea, 'to hell with the Constitution; let's do anything that needs to be done to combat crime.' "
Rowan says, "Hundreds of Democrats and...Republicans [are] scurrying for ways to prove that they hate crime more than they love constitutional protections.
"The histories of Nazi Germany, of Stalin's Russia show that once a police state gets its grip, no class or kind of people remains invulnerable to the oppressions and repressions of those in power."
Rowan concludes, though, "that the people and the politicians asked for this lurch toward a police state."
The United States is being cultivated to take its place in the world system of the 21st century. The experience in Fresno represents a facet of the education being employed by change agents of the world's new democracy club. America bears little resemblance to its founders' ideals. It will soon have retreated from every principle of its constitution, that process being already well advanced.
"The impeachment inquiry has revealed that approximately two-thirds of the nation now have no real interest in maintaining the form of government established under the Constitution with its liberties and rule of just law. In a shocking revelation of the depravity that has now taken hold, it is seen that integrity, purity of heart and truthfulness are scorned, derided, vilified, pilloried. Evil is boldly and shockingly mocking and attacking and persecuting the good. According to the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor over fifty people have now lost their lives who dared to stand up against the evil that now rules in the nation. Even those in the highest positions of power, if they dare to stand up for truth...are subjected to repeated death threats." Chereth Chronicle, December 1998.
It is a futile work to attempt the resurrection of a dead Constitution. Its only life and power came from a people whose lives were actuated and inspired by its principles. When the nation's collective conscience has died, so has the force of its Constitution and no power on earth can ever restore it.
One commentator penetrates the deception with this insight, "This long revolution in the American constitutional system would leave the Founding Fathers speechless. They feared and foresaw many dangers to the Constitution, but the U.S. Government as it exists today was beyond their most hideous nightmares. The most appalling part is that so few Americans are aware of this. We have been taught that our history is one of 'progress,' a smooth continuity of improvement in keeping with the central principles of 1776. Nothing could be further from the truth than this happy idiocy." Joseph Sobran's "The Real News of the Month," December 1998.
A great revealing is now manifesting itself. In place of illusion and appearance, all is being seen for what it truly is. America is being revealed. The president is being revealed. Peace officers are being revealed. Constitutionalists are being revealed. Truth is being revealed.
Sharon Saunders' unheeded appeal to the officers reveals their condition; they were already dead to the principles of the Constitution. The appeal was only an echo of the voice they must already have silenced within themselves.
We have come to a time when those whose alarm over America's free fall into the abyss of moral ruin is met with force and coercive control. Those who attempt to slow or reverse the irrepressible forces of change sweeping the nations, will find themselves crushed and destroyed by this power.
The system so long supported by upstanding people is now revealing its true nature. Hardworking Americans who have revered and supported this system for years with their labor and taxes, now find themselves choosing between the continued support of a government that now epitomizes evil OR remaining true to their consciences which place them in opposition to this government.
It is a question to be answered individually whether the support of this system so obviously bent on destruction can in good conscience be continued.
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