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Smaller than expected crowd protests ruling over police entry

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Hundreds of people rallied Wednesday on the Statehouse lawn against an Indiana Supreme Court ruling that said residents don’t have the right to resist police officers who illegally enter their homes.

The court’s 3-2 ruling brought Indiana law in line with most other states, but critics contend that it violates the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protection against illegal searches and centuries of common law precedent regarding homeowners’ rights. People showed up to the rally sporting American flag t-shirts, waving “Don’t tread on me” flags and carrying signs with slogans like “Honor the Fourth Amendment, not the Fourth Reich,” “Down with the police state” and “No warrant? No entrance!”

A rally organizer urged participants to vote to remove Justice Steven David, who wrote the decision and faces a retention election in November 2012.

“There are a lot of things we can do to make our voices heard,” Jeff Houk said. “I believe one of the most effective is to remove Justice David.”

David, who was appointed last year by Gov. Mitch Daniels, could be removed if a simple majority votes against keeping him. If he survives his first retention election, his next one will be 10 years later.

Daniels said Tuesday he was puzzled by the ruling, but his spokeswoman, Jane Jankowski, said Wednesday the governor didn’t have any second thoughts about having appointed David.

The governor’s general counsel, David Pippen, said the governor’s confusion came in light of a 2006 law he signed that said residents don’t have to retreat if their homes are illegally entered. Pippen said the court should reconsider the case in light of that law.

While more than 1,800 people had pledged on Facebook to attend the rally, only about 250 showed up. Still, organizers declared the event a success.

“We were trying to draw attention to the issue and make sure everyone knew about it, and I think we’ve done a good job of that,” said Stephen Skolnick, 19, an Indiana University student from Carmel.

Wally Loper, 77, of Shelbyville, said he and his wife shared Skolnick’s outrage over the May 12 decision.

“We don’t like the idea of the police being able to come in your home without any authority,” said Loper, whose wife wore a Shelby County tea party T-shirt. “That means anybody can bash your door in and scream police and come in. If you shoot, you don’t know if you’re going to hit a policeman or a thug.”

David Hess, 44, of Indianapolis, carried a sign that said he was looking for a job and hadn’t read the Constitution so maybe he could be a Supreme Court justice. He thought the ruling could endanger police officers.

“If I would shoot an intruder, there’s millions of others who would, too,” he said.

The court’s ruling dealt with narrow circumstances in which an Evansville man blocked and then shoved a police officer who tried to enter his home without a warrant after his wife called 911 during an argument with her husband. The man was shocked with a stun gun and arrested. His wife told officers he hadn’t hit her.

The two dissenting justices said the resulting decision was too broad and contradicted the Fourth Amendment. The defendant in the case has until June 13 to seek a rehearing, and his attorney has said she will do so. Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller also has said the court should rehear the case.

One gun owner said he brought his sidearm to the rally Wednesday but was told he couldn’t take it on Statehouse property. Bryan Acton, 24, of Indianapolis, said he carries his handgun “everywhere I legally can.”

He said he was “very upset” by the ruling: “It’s not right.”

Ted Ziady, 27, who had a U.S. flag draped over his shoulder and held a sign that said “Freedom not fascism,” said he drove three hours through storms from Gary in northwest Indiana to attend the rally.

“When the door is shut, and you ain’t got a warrant, go through the due process and do it the legal way,” Ziady said. “You don’t need to break the law.”


Posted 5/26/2011




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