Open Container Civil Disobedience Idea

Want to make it impossible for the police to attack people for the completely victimless act of possessing an open container, grind the courts to a halt, and force your local police department to alienate the state forensic laboratory…  all while not actually breaking a law?

Here’s how:

1. Get several bottles of Corona.

2. Videotape yourself cleaning all the bottles out in the sink…  removing any trace of alcohol.

3. Fill the bottles with non-alcoholic beer.

4. Stroll downtown to your favorite public park and/or into your local police department.

5. Sip.

6. Have your non-alcoholic beer seized.

7. Have several other people on hand doing the same thing.  Have them appear at different times or locations so that the state can’t have all the trials at the same time.

8. Get charged.

10. Plead not-guilty.

11. Have your trial…  introduce your evidence that you weren’t drinking beer.  Get found not-guilty.

12. Repeat.  (don’t forget the videotaped rinse)

The police are required to prove the existence of alcohol in the container in order for your conduct to be a proven violation of the statue (depending on how the ordinance is worded.)  This leaves them with four options.

1. Seize alcohol and send it all to the lab…  and only charge people afterward who the lab reports actually had alcohol in their “open container.”

2. Charge everyone, then test the “evidence.”  This would tie up lots of prosecutor time in tracking all the evidence and communicating with the state lab.

3. Dump out everyone drinking a liquid that smells like beer from a beer bottle.  This would open them up to a civil lawsuit, though.  The police have NO right to destroy lawfully possessed property.  If the police take your non-alcoholic beer and destroy it on you, sue them.  They are only allowed to seize things as evidence of a crime…  and are only allowed to destroy it with a court order.

Either way it will annoy the shit out of the state forensic laboratory, cost tens of thousands of dollars, tie up countless police resources, and clog the court system.  In the end, you will have actually not broken a law :)  Heads the activists win, tails the state looses.  This method could actually collapse the court system if the police were stupid enough to continue charging everyone with an “open container.”

Civil disobedience should be played like a game of chess.

(oh, and the fourth option: don’t enforce victimless laws.  sitting somewhere drinking a beer doesn’t hurt anyone.  you going after someone sitting somewhere drinking a beer IS actually hurting someone.)

  • Paul

    Definitely not the most important issue bil … but how can one do civil disobedience against the wars? Against wall street bailouts? Against secret prisons, torture, invasions of privacy, out of control bureaucracy, government takeover of industry, or government corruption/corporatism?

    One could refuse to pay federal taxes … but the IRS goons are quite happy to lock innocent people up for decades, for failing to pay their extortion racket.

    Ironically, it's the fact that local police, and local government, are far superior to national governments and federal police, that makes them the primary subjects of civil disobedience.

    Local government is superior, because it is far more responsive. The federal government is more or less beyond hope for real change at this point. So, one works to change what one can.

    I don't support all of the civil disobedience that happens (e.g. toplessness) — but I understand how a person can be fed up with all the abuse, and draw a line — to say, "No further!" I will not make it easy for you to presume run my life and run my finances, by threats of violence.

    And so one does what one can — to throw your body on the gears as they say, to stop the machine.

    I'd support public drinking civil disobedience, but only if it's done in an orderly, polite, considerate way. Go ahead, I say, quietly enjoy a beer in the park. If anyone harasses you for it, shame on them.

    But, don't come from a place of anger, I say, and don't let your purpose be to goad others. Simply try to live with consideration of others' wants/needs, as well as your own, and try to accommodate both.

  • Paul

    The basic flaw in reasoning, at the root of it all, is exemplified by the fact that people think it's ok to extort money from others by threatening them, use that money to buy and maintain a park, and then dictate their own rules for the use of that park.

    It's not the most heinous abuse by far — but it is the seed. All of the federal government gargantuan abuse and evil that has since arisen — and has arisen in other nations — is based on this core flaw: The idea that basic moral rules magically do not apply to a plurality, or those working on behalf of a plurality.

    This idea must be fought at every turn — it's the yeast that leavens the whole loaf — the cancer cell that multiples until it kills the whole body.

    Make such an exception — inculcate such a delusion in the public mind, and mass corruption, abuse, tyranny, and ultimately collapse/poverty are inevitable. To remove morality from the actions of man is a death sentence for life and liberty.

  • Bradley Jardis

    To remove morality from the actions of man is a death sentence for life and liberty.

    Morality is not taught at the police academy. Morality is not encouraged by police department administrations.

    Obedience to the words written down on paper by elected people… and to the words written by politically connected lawyers is what is taught, expected, demanded, and required. Using one's own judgment regarding the morality of a particular law is simply not something police are allowed to do. If it were allowed… I'd probably still be a police officer today.

    I will re-quote my quote from above: "Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice.”

    I consider myself a well meaning and peaceful person.

    This well meaning and peaceful person dispensed a whole slew of injustice due to a blind obedience and belief in what was written down on paper.

    I'm responsible for dozens of people being placed in cages…. violently at times. Peaceful people who simply exercised their own moral judgment as to how to treat their own bodies, etc.

    Of this I am ashamed.

    I just wish more people would open their minds to the concept that they too are committing injustice today… in the same precise manner and through the same precise mechanism as soldiers and police have in the past.

  • Bradley Jardis

    I was just reading back through this interaction and wanted to point something out.

    BraveCop stated the following:

    I don’t use violence but the neccessary force to obtain my lawful objective.

    The police academy doesn't teach new recruits that they're being violent. It teaches them that they're using "necessary force."

    This is violence…. and sugar-coating it with the term "necessary force" makes it sound like using the force (violence) is necessary.

    Initiating violence is never necessary to solve problems.

    This is the law that allows the police to use violence against peaceful people –> http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/LXII/627

    I really wouldn't be objecting if the law only allowed the police to use violence against people who have harmed other people.