John Miska’s Heroic Resistance in Charlottesville, Virginia

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Reading Rutherford Institute President John W. Whitehead’s Monday editorial “From Boston to Ferguson to Charlottesville: The Evolution of a Police State Lockdown,” I wanted to find out more about an arrest Whitehead mentions took place over the weekend in his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia. Following a link in Whitehead’s editorial to a Daily Progress article by Allison Wrabel, I found that John Miska, a local individual who was arrested for defying some of the draconian restrictions government imposed in the city last weekend, provides a heroic example of resistance to the police state and martial law conditions about which Whitehead warns in the editorial.

Wrabel’s article describes the situation in which Miska found himself arrested on Saturday. Access to the Charlottesville Downtown Mall was cut off except for two entrances where police at checkpoints inspected people’s bags and confiscated various items banned as potentially dangerous, including “brass knuckles, a razor, a multi-purpose knife and aerosol cans,” though openly carried and legal concealed carry handguns were alright. Writes Wrabel, “[c]ity emergency restrictions banned metal beverage containers, razors and other sharp objects and required that those items purchased from stores on the mall be left in bags.” All this, and more described in Whitehead’s editorial, occurred in the city purportedly because a year earlier some people in protesting groups had engaged in violence against each other in the city, even though there was no indication that such was likely to occur again last weekend.

On Saturday, Miska, described in Wrabel’s article as a veteran who uses a walker, engaged in civil disobedience. He went into a Charlottesville Downtown Mall CVS store and bought prohibited items — two cases of canned iced tea, a razor blade, and bug spray in an aerosol can. Then, when he walked out of the store, Miska was stopped by a state cop. After Miska refused to submit to a search and declined the cop’s offer to escort Miska, along with Miska’s purchased items, directly back to Miska’ car (Miska wanted to eat lunch in the area before returning to his car), Miska was arrested.

Miska acted courageously Saturday in defying the police state. And his comments quoted in Wrabel’s article make clear that he was intentionally engaging in civil disobedience, describing what was happening as “the loss of our constitutional rights here in Charlottesville,” declaring “I’m here going about my lawful occasions and I refuse to be bullied nor have my rights severed because of an illegitimate, illegal edict put forth by the city of Charlottesville,” and proclaiming “If you want to enforce that edict upon me at this time, take me to jail.”

Brave actions like those taken Saturday by Miska must likely be pursued much more often and by many more people if there is to be a reversal soon of the descent into more and more disrespect for our rights in America. May Miska’s example embolden more people to resist the police state that is tightening its grip in our country.

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