24-hour lockdown in effect, residents not allowed to leave their homes

Steve Watson
day, August 11, 2008

Areas of a town in Arkansas have been placed under a 24-hour, non-stop curfew described by the mayor as "almost akin to martial law".

The lockdown, issued after a spate of robberies, home invasions and shootings, applies to everyone in Helena-West Helena, no matter what age or what time of day it is.

Mayor James Valley has indicated that the curfew could be extended indefinitely.

Residents have described the lockdown as "like being in jail" and critics have slammed it as unconstitutional given that it effectively suspends the fourth amendment.

The ACLU of Arkansas has sent Mayor Valley a letter outlining these concerns:

"Imposing house arrest and suspending the Fourth Amendment for law-abiding people is only going to cause more problems for this city," said ACLU of Arkansas staff attorney Holly Dickson. "They need to work with the community to get this resolved instead of treating all of their citizens like criminals."

Watch a report from CNN:

Such "domestic surges" with police imposing a martial law-style clampdown are now seemingly becoming standard procedure.

There are countless examples in recent months and years of curfews and lockdowns going into place in areas all across the country.

Only two months ago Trinidad, a "troubled" community in northeast D.C., was subject to police checkpoints after a series of shootings.

Earlier this year curfews for minors were introduced in Chicago.

Back in April we reported on the fact that federal law enforcement agencies co-opted sheriffs offices as well state and local police forces in three states for a vast round up operation that one sheriff's deputy described as "martial law training".

The "anti-crime and anti-terrorism initiatives" involving officers from more than 50 federal, state and local agencies was dubbed "Operation Sudden Impact".

Earlier this month presumptive Republican nominee John McCain told the National Urban League that military-style invasions modeled on the surge in Iraq should be adopted to control inner city crime in the U.S.:

McCain: And some of those tactics — you mention the war in Iraq — are like that we use in the military. You go into neighborhoods, you clamp down, you provide a secure environment for the people that live there, and you make sure that the known criminals are kept under control. And you provide them with a stable environment and then they cooperate with law enforcement, etc, etc.