Safety vs. Rights – Curfew placed on Arkansas town

Helena, Arkansas ( – News Report) – Gunshots in the night, drug raids and an aura of danger currently categorize the towns of Helena and West-Helena for the past few weeks. The mayor and city officials have ordered a 24-hour curfew, advising people to stay inside their homes leaving only for emergency purposes. The curfew has been in effect for a week straight.

Police and military officers are armed with rifles and patrolling the streets, questioning civilians who are outside. Since the curfew, there have been 32 arrests and families are told to stay low to the ground in their homes for fear of stray bullets. How is this any way to live? How can families not be safe within the walls of their own home? Citizens of Helena voiced their concern with the danger and stated that the violence and shootings must stop ‘no matter what.’

Yet, the unwarranted stops are frequently met by opposition from lawyers and the ACLU in that they ‘violate residents’ constitutional rights to freely assemble and protections against unreasonable search and seizure.’ Mayor James Valley contests that the ‘citizens deserve peace, and some infringement on constitutional rights is ok, we have not violated anything as far as the Constitution.’ Many Americans experienced this in airports, trains and buses after the attacks of 9/11. It boils down to a question of which is more important: national safety or liberty? Are the citizens willing to give up a few freedoms in turn, gaining greater security and protection? Can the citizens give up these privacies in such an age of insecurity? Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty or give me death” and to contrast, Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, stated, “I am a strong supporter of the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment and civil liberties. But you have no civil liberties if you are dead.” It should come as no surprise that 51% of Americans say that security is more important than privacy, and 29% disagree, stating that privacy is more important – finds a Rasmussen Report. Twenty percent (20%) are not sure. It is an ongoing debate that an individual’s security is vital to their survival, but their privacy, merely a social need, is not. What truly is most important is that our lawmakers find a balance between keeping the citizens safe while still allowing certain freedoms.

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