Convoluted Brian

the weBlog of Brian McCorkle

The Importance of Understanding

The Great Texas Kmart Raid

Before the raid on the Texas Ranch of the FLDS members near Eldorado, there was the great raid on Kmart in Houston. While the Eldorado raid was conducted with armed police in protective clothing and an armored vehicle, the Kmart mart raid was braver. There was no armored vehicle, and the police were armed but not wearing flak jackets.

In August, 2002 Houston Police planned raids which they claimed were targeting street drag racing. The problem was when they made their raids, no drag racers were found. The Chief of Police was C.O. Bradford, now running for Harris County District Attorney. The raids were planned by Captain Mark Aguirre.

The Houston police did a practice raid at James Coney Island on Saturday, 24 August, 2002. The manager had cooperated with a request to place customers only signs in the parking lot. Captain Aguirre told the restaurant management that the intent was to crack down on drag racers. At 1:15 in the morning, the police attacked with ground forces and a helicopter. They proceeded to arrest people without questioning and without cause. The arrests were for offenses that were citation offenses.

The problem was that most of those arrested were long‑time customers of the restaurant. At least one person was finishing a restaurant meal in the parking lot when she was arrested.

The police arrests continued until 4:30 in the morning. Overall, the arrest toll wasn’t too bad. Only twenty‑five persons were hauled off although more were stranded when drivers were taken away.

The restaurant management was very unhappy since the policy was to cooperate with police only to have innocent customers taken to jail. But, the best was yet to come.

At 12:30 A.M. on Sunday, police conducted a raid for drag racers at the parking lot of Kmart. Again, there were none present, Again, Houston police sought out customers to arrest. This time, the patrons were from Kmart and the Sonic Drive Through Restaurant.

Police handcuffed and jailed 425 people while brandishing shotguns and other weapons. . Youths who had receipts showing a purchase were not allowed to do so. Youths who were eating were taken away. Even a ten‑year‑old girl was separated from her father and arrested although she was far to young to be a drag racer.

People pleaded guilty to get out of jail since they didn’t have bail money. One mother complained that police could not find her son after he was placed in jail.

Many of the arrested were straight A students. None were arrested for drag racing. Parents were not notified that their children were jailed.

The result was lawsuits. In 2005, U.S. District Judge Nancy Atlas termed the tactics by the Houston Police Department “an unjustified, almost totalitarian, regime of suspicionless stops.” These cases are possibly resolved in April, 2008.

That is how it is done in Texas.

by Brian McCorkle
posted on 21 April, 2008 at 19:36 pm
in category Criminal Justice,Rants

The Great Texas FLDS Raid is not the first of its kind for Texas Law Enforcement. In 2002, Houston police arrested over four‑hundred innocent people, patrons of Kmart and local restaurants, because they could not find drag racers.



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