Amendment 14, Section 1: All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
There’s been some solid examples of the lack of due process for Americans the last few years. Being the type of person that I am, I was never interested in learning the depths of the Constitution, our rights, or local, state and federal laws, etc. beyond not stealing, speeding and other related laws. However, I’ve been thrust into learning these various laws due to the day and age we find ourselves. The biggest example we see about Americans not receiving due process are the January 6th prisoners. Regardless of how any of us feel about their actions, the fact of the matter is they’ve been in prison for years without being able to exercise their Constitutional right of due process which includes: notice, an opportunity to be heard, and an impartial tribunal BEFORE being stripped of life, liberty or property. What’s even more scary is that our federal government has proven that they don’t care about upholding our rights, especially when they can get away with it. The January 6th prisoners have lost their lives (some recently committed suicide), their liberty, and their property (some have lost their homes due to the lost income).
Here in Butte county, it seems we have yet another example for us to learn from with due process and the lack thereof. John Tracy (3J Oil Medics & Towing) shared his side of story with us which you can catch up and read here (Including the Sheriff’s side). In a nutshell, the woman who arrested wanted the contents from the car she was driving. However, she couldn’t prove ownership, and instead, records showed owners who lived in Missouri with no connection to the woman driving the vehicle. She claimed she had a bill of sale in the glovebox, but, according to John Tracy’s story, the BF Police confirmed they had it in hand and it looked like one that any person could get off Google and fill out themselves. Knowing that, Mr. Tracy enforced state law and would not allow her to retrieve any contents from the car. She then pleaded to the sheriff, and according to his statement, he advised her to get a court order from the judge to basically force Mr. Tracy to let her get the contents from the car. This put Mr. Tracy in a lose/lose situation, because that court order would force him to break state law, yet he’d also be breaking the law for violating a court order. So, for him, it came down to which law would he rather break? He chose to violate this seemingly illegal court order and in doing so, uphold state law.
On the same day he was served that court order and refused to abide by it, the sheriff terminated him from the towing rotation for Butte County, thereby creating a monopoly for the remaining towing business on rotation, which, as you can read in the previous articles, violates the state law on monopolies and is a class 6 felony which carries 2 years in prison and/or a $4,000 fine. All of that happened WITHOUT Mr. Tracy having his 14th Amendment right upheld of due process BEFORE being deprived of “life, liberty and/or property”: he was immediately removed from the towing rotation without being able to plead his case and state his side in front of an unbiased judge/jury/tribunal. On top of that, he wasn’t allowed on the county commission’s agenda for their upcoming meeting. However, he was on the agenda under the sheriff’s report. When he found out about that, he and his employee came to the meeting and made a public comment. Yet, even while present at the meeting and even though they were on the agenda as subject matter for the sheriff, they weren’t allowed to comment during that time. There was absolutely no reason for that, as any citizen is allowed to engage, speak, and ask questions at any part of these meetings (at least they should be, but the Butte County Commission is very picky about who gets to speak and when). In my opinion, John Tracy’s 1st AND 14th Amendment rights were violated, and it seems that our local government is interfering in private businesses as it suits them.
The question remains: WHY? Why does it seem like our sheriff, along with our judge and state’s attorney, targeting a private business owner over choosing to uphold the law? Why is there such a disregard for the other laws they are violating by doing this, such as the one about monopolies and the laws Mr. Tracy must uphold for the sake of the people he serves? Why the dismissal of our Constitutional rights to free speech and due process? Why is the other towing company not speaking out for the sake of the law to be upheld in this matter?
Lastly, to answer all of you who ask me what you can do to fight back: we all have our own roles to play in this. The biggest thing you can do is to use your voice and the knowledge you gain about our rights, the laws, and the constitution. I still have a lot to learn, but we can get this done together. Defend your fellow American citizens like John Tracy. Whether you like someone personally or not, that doesn’t negate the fact that we all have a legal right to due process, the right to be heard and to make our case before a judgement is handed down on us and our situation. If we don’t stand up now, then who will be there to stand up for us when our rights our violated?
How can you stand up and defend your fellow citizens? It’s easy: show up to meetings and speak during public comment and state your thoughts. If you call or email any of these county officials, be sure to post on social media that you did and what you told them. You can post specifically to the FB group: We, The People, of South Dakota and encourage others to do the same. Letting your fellow South Dakotans know what you did unites us and encourages others to do it and we all realize we aren’t alone in this. This is how we uphold our rights, uphold the Constitution, and take back control of our state and country.