A revealing book about how government, law enforcement, and bureaucratic interests are seizing our property, our children, our savings, and our fundamental American rights—and how to fight back.
Liberty and justice for all is the bedrock of American democracy, but has America betrayed our founders’ vision for the nation? In When They Come For You, New York Times bestselling author David Kirby exposes federal, state, and local violations of basic constitutional rights that should trouble every American, whether liberal, conservative, or libertarian. Free speech, privacy, protection from unreasonable search and seizure, due process, and equal protection under the law are rights that belong to every American citizen, but are being shredded at an alarming rate all across the country.
Police and prosecutorial misconduct, overzealous bureaucrats with virtually unchecked power, unwarranted searches, SWAT-style raids on the homes of innocent Americans, crackdowns on a free press and the right to protest, removing children from their parents without cause, “debtors prisons," restricting freedom of health choice, seizing private assets for government profit, and much more demonstrate how deeply our rights and our national values are eroding. When They Come For You uses true stories of everyday citizens to reveal how our federal, state, and municipal governments, police, lawmakers, judges, revenue agents, unelected power brokers, and even government social workers are eviscerating our most fundamental liberties. And, it shows how people are fighting back—and winning.
In this detailed and often shocking book, investigative reporter Kirby (Death at SeaWorld) persuasively argues that following the law may not protect people in the U.S. from harassment, violence, false prosecution, and financial loss at the hands of the police and government. Through two dozen harrowing stories, he looks at warrantless home raids, "state-sponsored kidnapping" by Child Protective Services, a probation industry that uses fines as revenue, and civil assets forfeiture laws that allow police to seize property without even charging anyone of a crime. The latter part of the book takes on profiling and surveillance, freedom of speech, and the profound "chilling effect" of extralegal police and government action on both private individuals and the press. Kirby criticizes the Trump administration's extreme actions, such as prosecuting protestors of the inauguration for rioting, and lays blame for current surveillance norms at the feet of the Obama administration. Finally, he delves into the more general right to privacy implied by the Ninth Amendment, sharing a miscellany of cases covering overzealous policing of petty crime, invasive searches by the Transportation Security Administration, and mistreatment of incarcerated people. He encourages readers to demand increased federal protections, to know their constitutional rights, and to remember that legal recourse for these abuses exists. This is investigative reporting at its most effective.