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By JON GAMBRELL, Associated Press WriterWed Aug 13, 6:41 AM ET

Officers armed with military rifles have been stopping and questioning passers-by in a neighborhood plagued by violence that's been under a 24-hour curfew for a week.

On Tuesday, the Helena-West Helena City Council voted 9-0 to allow police to expand that program into any area of the city, despite a warning from a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas that the police stops were unconstitutional.

Police Chief Fred Fielder said the patrols have netted 32 arrests since they began last week in a 10-block neighborhood in this small town on the banks of the Mississippi River long troubled by poverty. The council said those living in the city want the random shootings and drug-fueled violence to stop, no matter what the cost.

"Now if somebody wants to sue us, they have an option to sue, but I'm fairly certain that a judge will see it the way the way the citizens see it here," Mayor James Valley said. "The citizens deserve peace, that some infringement on constitutional rights is OK and we have not violated anything as far as the Constitution."

The area under curfew, in what used to be a West Helena neighborhood, sits among abandoned homes and occupied residences in disrepair.

White signs on large blue barrels warn those passing by that the area remains under curfew by order of Mayor James Valley. The order was scheduled to end at 3 p.m. Tuesday, but Valley said the city council's vote would allow police to have the same powers across Helena-West Helena.

Among the curfew operation's arrests, 10 came from felony charges, including the arrest of two people carrying both drugs and weapons, Fielder said. The police chief said the officers in the field carry military-style M-16 or M-4 rifles, some equipped with laser sights. Other officers carry short-barrel shotguns. Many dealing crack cocaine and marijuana in the city carry pistols and AK-47 assault rifles, he said.

"We've had people call us, expressing concern for their children," Fielder said. "They had to sleep on the floor, because of stray bullets."

Fielder said officers had not arrested anyone for violating the curfew, only questioned people about why they were outside. Those without good answers or acting nervously get additional attention, Fielder said.

However, such stops likely violate residents' constitutional rights to freely assemble and protections against unreasonable police searches, said Holly Dickson, a lawyer for the ACLU of Arkansas who addressed the council at its packed Tuesday meeting. Because of that, Dickson said any convictions coming from the arrests likely would be overturned.

"The residents of these high-crime areas are already victims," she said. "They're victims of what are happening in the neighborhoods, they're victims of fear. But for them to be subject to unlawful stops and questioning ... that is not going to ultimately going to help this situation."

The council rejected Dickson's claims, at one point questioning the Little Rock-based attorney if she'd live in a neighborhood they described as under siege by wild gunfire and gangs.

"As far as I'm concerned, at 3 o'clock in the morning, nobody has any business being on the street, except the law," Councilman Eugene "Red" Johnson said. "Anyone out at 3 o'clock shouldn't be out on the street, unless you're going to the hospital."

The curfew is the second under the mayor's watch since the rival cities of Helena and West Helena merged in 2006. That year, Valley set a nightly citywide curfew after a rash of burglaries and other thefts.

Police in Hartford, Conn., began enforcing a nightly curfew for youths after recent violence, including a weekend shooting that killed a man and wounded six young people.

Helena-West Helena, with 15,000 residents at the edge of Arkansas' eastern rice fields and farmland, is in one of the nation's poorest regions, trailing even parts of Appalachia in its standard of living.

In the curfew area, those inside the homes in the watch area peered out of door cracks Tuesday as police cruisers passed. They closed the doors afterward.
i'm wondering how long it will be before they do door to door searches for weapons. it makes me sick to see things like this happening in the US. since most of these searches were performed illegally any real criminal they may have arrested will walk, and more taxpayer money goes down the drain. :roll:
 

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Unbelievable. This is in Arkansas? WTF? I thought I was reading something about the Russian conflict.

Ol' Ben Franklin would shit lightning bolts if he read this article.

"They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security."

-2nd time I've had to put that quote out today. Why are there no libertarians in government? Oh yeah, it's cause we don't believe in 80% of it.
 

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"i'm wondering how long it will be before they do door to door searches for weapons"

Ehhh - didn't Congress pass a Federal Law against this, post Katrina? Or does the are have to be declared a "disaster area" first?
 

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"As far as I'm concerned, at 3 o'clock in the morning, nobody has any business being on the street, except the law," Councilman Eugene "Red" Johnson said. "Anyone out at 3 o'clock shouldn't be out on the street, unless you're going to the hospital."
Really?
Guess what time I like to do my grocery shopping?
I'm also an amateur astronomer, guess what time I usually leave the field/observatory?

Do I really have no business studying astronomy?



What fucking country is this again?

:neutral:
 

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Helena is a place with extreme problems and poor leadership. When small farms were predominant Helena prospered! The rise of corporate farming squeezed the little guy out and brought in ever higher levels of mechanization. When that occured the unskilled work force was left without a way to make a decent living. Many of these folks were unwilling or unable to relocate leaving an uneducated work force with little chance of attracting signifigant industry. In short the intellectual class of this community saw the writing on the wall and left for greener pastures years ago. What you are left with is sophomoric political and economic leadership that resorts to drachonian measures to control undesirable elements of the populace. Helena is your average Mississippi River Delta town! The Mississippi Delta region of Arkansas is nearly 3rd world it has nothing in common with the predominant gun toting culture prevalent in the rest of the state.
 

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If you have ever passed thru there going to the casino across the river you would know why they are doing this. Ask anyone who has been there . I could take pics. and post them as being from east africa or south america and you would believe it. There is NOTHING there to make a living . Farm wages are usually a FREE run down house ,a farm truck to drive and 250 to 300 dollars a week. There are familys living in houses I would not let my dog live in. The casinos across the river are doing well how ever. :neutral:
 

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Gonzo_Beyondo said:
I'm also an amateur astronomer, guess what time I usually leave the field/observatory?

"...this just in...authorities are still piecing events together but a terrorist with a rocket launcher was gunned down shortly after 3am before he could cause any harm to the community. It's not known if he had any accomplices but officials are combing the area, a rice field only 20 miles from local schools.

The local Mayor released a statement that the terrorist was "popped in the head" and commended his Police Chief for how well the curfew is working.

A Councilman was quoted as saying "Nobody has any business being in a rice field at 3 o'clock in the morning, much less a terrorist."


More details to come as we receive them..."




:peep:
 

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Comrade ....what are you doing out so late ??? Your papers please.... Your papers they are not in order.... (watch that old Clint Eastwood movie Firefox, then take a second look at this). :twisted:
 

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Gonzo_Beyondo said:
"As far as I'm concerned, at 3 o'clock in the morning, nobody has any business being on the street, except the law," Councilman Eugene "Red" Johnson said. "Anyone out at 3 o'clock shouldn't be out on the street, unless you're going to the hospital."
Really?
Guess what time I like to do my grocery shopping?
I'm also an amateur astronomer, guess what time I usually leave the field/observatory?

Do I really have no business studying astronomy?


What fucking country is this again?

:neutral:
bar close at 2 am, go out to eat at the 24 hour perkins, im still on the road at 3:30!!! hell i work 3rd shift, my hours are insane :mrgreen:
 

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terrible. and a complete waist of time. glad i don't live there.
 

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"That post Katrina law is a joke. There is no penalty for an offender"

Well, perhaps one. I can shoot back if he's attempting to enter my home in the commision of a crime.
 

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one thing that the U.S. should adopt from Russia is how to handle a problem is there own country " if you see a problem starting up CRUSH IT BEFORE IT BECOMES A SHIT STORM ON A HALF TRACK ON STEROID'S " quoted by oldschoolrussian. but i have been a Roosevelt kind of guy "speak softly and carry a big stick". so the U.S. should get off there A## and start taking care of the problems the right way not the F###ED UP way.


I apologize to anyone that this may offend this reply only expresses what i thing of the situation presented to me in this topic.

"War if fought with General's and Soldier's, not politicians" - i can't remember who said the quote but i am trying to find out right now
 

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in the words of the joker in the first batman movie "this town needs an enema". I have to agree with ten mile and will36 that is a rough neck of the woods. I think the city officials had enough of the crap and did what needed to be done, tommy robinson style!
 

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snakebite said:
in the words of the joker in the first batman movie "this town needs an enema". I have to agree with ten mile and will36 that is a rough neck of the woods. I think the city officials had enough of the crap and did what needed to be done, tommy robinson style!
Hell yeah , John thats a idea. How can we get Tommy Robinson to run for president?

A little history Tommy Robinson made headlines back in the 80's while he was the sheriff in Little Rock, Ar. They were robbing gas stations like crazy.

He put metal boxes with a one way mirror on the front inside gas stations. Some had officers in them with shotguns some did not . After a couple of bad guys got toasted. Crime slowed down.

He also like to handcuff prisioners to the fence out side the prison. :mrgreen: How would be run out of town now days , but he handled $hit.
 
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