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Living Freedom by Claire Wolfe. Musings about personal freedom and finding it within ourselves.

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post.

Claire Wolfe

Terry and the checkpoint goons, part II

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Last week I interviewed Terry Bressi, the gutsy Arizona man whose nine-year effort won him a victory against the goons who dragged him out of his vehicle and illegally arrested him at highway checkpoint in December 2002.

While it wasn’t a complete triumph because none of the individual miscreants were punished and drivers continue to have their rights violated, it was still a serious win.

Terry notes, “Although I didn’t get the ruling/clarification I wanted from this legal action, my attorney reminds me that we squarely trounced them in the 9th circuit, pissed off the lower court judge to no end who’s dismissal was reversed, clarified years of ambiguous applicability of federal/state constitutional law to tribal law enforcement actors operating on public highways and scared them enough to force a six figure settlement.”

Terry also posted enough documentation online to enable some future Agitator to carry the right-to-travel cause even farther.

Last week’s post focused on mindset — what drove Terry to fight so hard and what kept him going when it must have been a terrible grind.

Today … it’s all about practicalities. Specifically it’s about how Terry recorded his roadblock experiences.

Under other circumstances, it might be enough to whip out your smartphone to record police thuggery and rights violations. But phones get confiscated, videos get deleted, cameras get “accidentally” damaged or not-so-accidentally crushed under bootheels.

Motorists — especially ones who challenge the cops — have special problems. They may be dragged out of their vehicles and out of range of dashboard cameras (their own or those of the police). Police searching a vehicle can wreak havoc on a simple camera setup. One camera might malfunction. A memory card might get “disappeared.” An adversary may come up from a side of the vehicle where no camera is pointed. Or other things might happen (and have happened to Terry) as he notes below.

So here, in his own words, is how Terry set up his vehicle.

At first glance, you might think Terry’s car has an elaborate recording setup. But hang in there. Below is a video from a hardcore freedomista whose car could star in Mission Impossible.

In Terry’s own words:

I haven’t detailed my camera setup online before but it’s pretty straight forward. I installed a 750 watt (1500 watt peak) inverter connected directly to the vehicle battery, through a 100+ amp in-line fuse, for converting the battery’s 12 VDC output to 120 VAC. This allows me to power quite a few recording devices and other electronic equipment with standard wall outlet power transformers.

After several incidents where the batteries in one of my cameras died while in the middle of filming a checkpoint encounter (rather embarrassing even if I do have a decent poker face when the need arises), I decided I really didn’t like relying on internal camera/recorder batteries for encounters of unknown duration. To remedy this, I installed the inverter and bought power supplies for most of the cameras.

I usually use two or three cameras in the cab of the vehicle – one pointing out the back, one looking out the passenger window and a third on the dashboard looking forward. The dashboard camera is setup on an industrial strength velcro strip so that I can pick it up easily and point it wherever I think it needs to be pointed. While three cameras may sound like overkill, it really isn’t. The Border Patrol uses drug sniffing dogs at their checkpoints on pretty much every vehicle that passes through. Since dogs can be manipulated by their handlers into falsely alerting or handlers can just outright lie about an alert, it’s important to have as many angles as possible covered. As such, even with three cameras, I still have way too many blind spots for my comfort. Additionally, before I installed the passenger side camera and the rear camera, I was getting an inordinate number of flat tires. It was always the rear passenger side tire….

I’ve been using Canon Powershot handheld cameras of various models over the years because they can operate while using an external power supply and don’t place artificial limits on the length of a video clip. They’ll run until the memory card overfloweth or until they hit 4GB of memory space. I think the 4GB limit is due to the addressing limits of whatever internal processing hardware the camera uses. At 640×480 resolution & 30 frames per second, this is usually close to an hour’s worth of videotaping. I also keep spare memory cards on hand to switch out if the need arises & as long as the vehicle battery holds out, the cameras will too.

One can also buy inverters that plug into the cigarette lighter but they’re limited to about 200 watts (sufficient for most operations) but they power down in most cases when the engine is turned off. Connecting directly to the battery makes sure your equipment stays powered for as long as the vehicle battery has a charge regardless of whether or not the vehicle is running. Of course the down side to this is if you run your vehicle battery down during an encounter you may find yourself asking for a jump from whatever agency detained you in the first place. Not likely to happen though given that you’d have to be recording for a long time in most cases before this would be an issue – a time frame in which they’re usually either going to just let you go or drag you out….

Think that’s impressive? Here’s a video Terry sent along. Meet Rick Rynearson and his astounding Mitsubishi Eclipse:

22 Responses to “Terry and the checkpoint goons, part II”

  1. Woody Says:

    That is some awesome tech in that car. Must have cost as much as the car. When it comes as standard or optional equipment from the factory you will know we are making some progress.
    Terry’s comment about the flat tires on the right rear of his car was instructive. It certainly illustrates the vindictiveness of our alleged protectors. Aren’t we lucky to be living in the land of the free?

  2. Matt, another Says:

    Terrry’s set up for his vehicle sounds pretty reasonable. Realatively “low-tech” tech. Guess I’ll stop getting the inverter installed in my wife’s car. It is useful for other things as well, such as running a nebulizer when away from the grid.

    I like the car set up in the video. The ST fluid dumping into the exhaust to creat a smoke screen would throw off some video surveillance. It might be more effective if the fluid contained medical particals that would disrupt radar signals and IR. I would imagin though that if he used the smoke screen device he would then be charged with pollution, environmental abuse etc.

  3. Matt, another Says:

    Should read “Stop procrastinating getting the inverter installed…”

  4. Jim B. Says:

    Most stops are about getting money, as most people already know. however the taxman has a new way to make people miserable, tax the Olympic medals and cash prizes that were hard won.

  5. Laird Says:

    Some astounding tech on that car. He’s really thought it through.

    Jim B, thanks for that link. There are no limits to the depth of our government’s depravity, are there?

  6. Scott Says:

    Cool-I would add a single pole, double throw switch in line with the inverter, to allow it to be switched between directly to battery and to a off-with-the-ignition circuit. The James Bondish Mitsubishi is way too cool. Automatic transmission fluid would make a dense white smoke, but would probably get you a ticket of some sort.
    You could get by with four tiny cameras connected to a netbook or used laptop-some small stores use this method. There are tiny,easy to hide cameras at very reasonable prices. Model rocketeers use the pocket video cameras-about the size of a car remote,and record one hour of video. That would be a cool job-building spy cars…

  7. just waiting Says:

    Wow, 9 years. Thats standing up for what you believe in!
    “A Friend” had a much shorter but equally difficult and frustrating time before he was able to get some kind of justice.
    His illness has made him a ghost, and for years his doctors have been advocating his use medical marijuana to relieve his suffering (note:he has treated with over 60 doctors of every specialty in the past 20 years, not a single one was able to do anything to provide even a modicum of relief, let alone find a cure)
    So living his life as best he could, he was arrested for possession of less than 1/2 gram of marijuana 1 month after his state passed their Med Marijuana Law, but 5 months before the law was scheduled to go into effect.
    At the 1st hearing, the prosecutor asks what he wants to plead guilty to, possession or violation of a civil ordinance? Huh? A civil ordinance, you admit you acted in an unspecified uncivil order within that township, get fined $500, and nothing goes on his record.
    “No”, he says, I don’t want to plead guilty to anything, I want you to use your prosecutorial discretion and not prosecute these charges. What a big laugh she had, until she realized he was serious. “I can’t do that!” “Oh yes you can!, Under Rules of Court xxx, a prosecutor has that discretion” She was reminded her duty under those Rules was to “seek individual justice in individual matters” and asked to explain how she thought it was just to prosecute him. “Its the Law” quickly became a “no answer”
    At the point she asked about his entourage. 1 was his wife and primary caregiver. 1 was the person whose house he was arrested at (a neighbor called the cops as he was plowing snow the night before they returned from vacation, so much for doing good deeds), and the other two both had badges. 1 was an SEC consultant/investigator, her husband is retired US Secret Service Physician and was his current doctor.
    It took some serious convincing, but the prosecutor relented and agreed to dismiss upon showing a valid patient card for the state. The judge reluctantly accepted, and told him to come back in a month with an id card or a report on the status of the program. (note: its been about 30 months since the law was signed, no med marijuana is yet available)
    11 months of appearances and reports later, which included a a report on a visit with the Governor to ask him what to tell the judge, and there was no end in sight.
    Finally, at about the 13 month mark, it had gone on long enough for the judge and prosecutor. One evening, they agreed not to wait on the state any longer and to drop the charges.

    It was difficult, being ill and dragging himself to pointless hearing month after month, trying to defend himself against the power, but in the end, after standing up for something you believe for sooo long, it feels pretty darn good to sit down winning. He has heard that a few others have benefited by the streuggle he endured and the precedent he set, and had their cases dismissed as well. Helping other beat the man feels pretty darn good too, he tells me.

  8. Claire Says:

    just waiting — When you mentioned your “friend” the other day, I was really, really hoping you’d tell his story. Thanks for being willing and taking the time to do it.

    Government is insane.

  9. just waiting Says:

    This is the link when he spoke to the Governor in Sept 2010. 2010.

  10. Matt, another Says:

    After those olympians pay the federal taxes I am sure sme of them will then have to pay state and local taxes. Excellence will always be punished.

  11. Claire Says:

    Christie sounds — sounded — like a straight shooter. So why do I keep hearing that NJ is still stalling on medical cannabis?

    Well said on your “friend’s” part, though. Very.

  12. The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit Says:

    Mmmm….9th Circuit briefs and rulings….

  13. Claire Says:

    Okay, Hobbit. If you mean the 9th has an aaaaa-mazing record of having its rulings overturned and its briefs snickered at … yeah. STILL. If you were in Terry’s shoes, wouldn’t you cheer any positive development — especially one that came from an actual gummint court?

  14. David Hammond Says:

    he’s lucky he didn’t end up in this video.
    If you get here 1st Clair you might want to pull this, or not

  15. Claire Says:

    David — You might want to try that link again. For me, it goes to a main page at but not to a video. Very curious to see what you intended.

  16. MJR Says:

    The video brought one thing to my mind. If it’s to the point in the USA where you need to have spy gizmos (cameras, AV recording/uploading equipment, vehicle smoke screen, bullet proof glass, Kevlar door liner) in your car to protect yourself from the Police, maybe it is time to “shoot the bastards.”

  17. Woody Says:

    @MJR Carl Drega thought so.

  18. David Hammond Says:

    Sorry I just learned how to pull videos out of threads.

  19. clark Says:

    I was reminded of MJR’s comment while reading this bit about Canada:

    “The agents also had authority to confiscate all electronic equipment, including the videos or other equipment of anyone who wanted to record the events. When Schmidt’s wife, Alyssa, began to take photos, they confiscated her camera. A guest from Germany staying at Schmidt’s farm had his iPhone confiscated when he began recording the search.”

  20. Pat Says:

    My God, David, I watched 27 minutes of that video, and couldn’t take any more!

    (With rhetorical questions) The last scenario I saw was the man who was bloodied, with lacerations, dirt, leaves, etc. on him that the cops tased. Aren’t they given ANY training to recognize shock when they see it? Why wasn’t the cop carrying gloves, if he’s so worried about touching someone? Why didn’t they call an ambulance immediately if they were responding to an accident – or why wasn’t the ambulance already on its way? And couldn’t they see if there was a weapon on him or not? They weren’t using their eyes or their heads – just reacting to what was in front of them, like a horse with blinders, and expecting immediate and total obedience.

    In the beginning of this video, the cops are asking for respect. But true respect is EARNED, it is not given on demand; in fact the person who _demands_ respect is least likely to get it.

    I may get back to this video later – but then again, I may not; it sickens me!

  21. David Hammond Says:

    I got as far as when they took the woman to jail, the one who called for help, and after dropping her on the floor 2 times they stripped her and left her naked in the jail cell for 6 hours.
    The fact that the other cops joined in is amazing.
    I figiured that then male cops suffered from SDS and the female cops were just into women.
    There is no reason for what they did to that woman, and to think they got away with it.

    I would cross the street if I saw a cop down on the side walk that needed help, sorry but that is just the way it is.

  22. clark Says:

    Attention, Mundanes: Don’t ‘Disrespect’ Your Armed Overseers

    I liked this line of reasoning, imagine the voice of Tuco from the film, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly:

    “If police are our servants — rather than our armed overseers — why do they feel entitled to punish us for showing them “disrespect”?”

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