Who among us isn’t familiar with the mob-movie trope of the gangster entering a small shop, walking like a bull past the fine china, picking up a nice item, admiring it, and then saying, “Gee… Such a nice place ya got heeah. It’d be a shame if—(SMASH, as he drops and breaks the piece) – somethin’ happened to it…”? And, of course, likely we’re all familiar with the subsequent shakedown – the demand for “protection money”.
But we might not be familiar with it in our real lives unless we live in Winslow, Arizona, or some other political subdivision where the government is revealing a gangsteresque heart.
As News12 KPNX reported on April 21, bodycam footage from April 11 reveals Winslow, Arizona, police marching right into 71 year-old Daniel J. Mazon’s Authentic Indian Store, strolling around, and telling him they “don’t want you to feel like we’re harassing you” as they demand to see his “papers”, bug him about what he’s simply offering for sale (including snacks like potato chips, hay for horses, Indian jewelry, carpets, and carvings, and many other items), demand to see his ID, and, eventually, tell him to close -- while locking him in handcuffs and stuffing him in their cruiser.
In a situation not dissimilar to that of the Idaho woman arrested for helping her husband run a yard sale to sell belongings once owned by his recently deceased father, Mr. Mazon and his wife suffered having two armed men entering their struggling store to harass them about being a “non-essential” business.
Because, of course, people offering things to others – things like food for themselves and their horses, interior decorations, and traditional American Indian items – are NOT essential, while tax-funded officers threatening others to shut down voluntary business seems to be essential in Arizona.
All according to Governor Doug Doucey’s edict of late March.
So the police told Mazon he’d been warned that his business wasn’t “in compliance” with Doucey’s order, because Mazon wasn’t offering what the government said was “essential."
He wasn’t selling the “right” things.
Police said Mazon had been warned twice about keeping his store open, once by the Winslow mayor and once again by police, in the days before this incident. But Mazon desperately told them he’d changed his offerings to comply, that he'd added the hay, as well as water, paper towels, and food, and that his establishment had already been accepted as a “department store” by the state’s licensing officials.
And, of course, the police tag-team demanded to see his “papers”, so Mazon offered his new license – that wonderful “permission slip” from politicians and bureaucrats that “allows him” to engage in peaceful market exchanges with others.
But this wasn’t sufficient for the Winslow policemen, they demanded to see Mazon’s driver’s license. When Mazon noted that he wasn’t driving and that his name was on the license, he was promptly handcuffed and put in the back of a police cruiser – mimicking arrest.
In fact, as Mazon’s wife shot cam footage and asked what was going on, the copper told her they merely handcuffed him and put him in the car because he refused to hand over his driver’s license, and that they weren’t really arresting him. In response, she noted that her husband had health problems – something about which the police didn’t show any care when they used their scare tactics to intimidate the peaceful store owner.
So as the man sat in the back of the car, his hands cuffed behind his back, one officer called the station to discuss whether he should close the store, right then and there. Too bad he didn't call to ask for a copy of the Bill of Rights.