The band was rocking, the crowd was dancing, and a good time was being had by all at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo when something went very wrong. People suddenly started coughing and choking, and several panicked people fled from the tent where the event was being held.
“All of a sudden, it felt like someone hit me in the throat, and I started coughing,” one of the people who attended the event last month told NBC affiliate KPRC. “I thought it was only me until I went outside to get fresh air, and there were people already outside and more coming out. They were also coughing a lot.”
“We were devastated by it,” added Susie Barlow, who was at another nearby tent. “We have elderly people, and I have two folks that night who were a double and triple amputee in wheelchairs.“
When officers from the Sheriff’s office arrived, they found that a “chemical crowd dispersant” — that is, a gas grenade — had been thrown into the tent. It was later learned that the grenade had been “set off inside the tent by a rodeo committee member and [Houston Police Department] officer, who was off duty and partying in a neighboring tent.”
The officer, 51-year-old Mike Hamby, has spent more than half his life as a member of the enforcement caste within the tax-feeding class. According to KPRC, Hamby, a Sgt. Stendenko lookalike, admitted that “he had set off the tear gas to retaliate against people inside that tent, whom Hamby felt had made remarks against the military.”
In other words: He had overheard Mundanes speaking evil of the sanctified purveyors of official violence, and considered it his duty not to let such impudence go unpunished.
In keeping with established customs, Hamby was “punished” by being “relieved of duty with pay, with the department saying he is accused of criminal wrong-doing.” Hamby is an elected board member of the Houston Police Officers’ Union. He has remained armed and at-large despite being the subject of seven previous investigations for various kinds of official misconduct.
If someone who is not part of the State’s punitive priesthood had committed a similar act, the offender would most likely face federal terrorism charges involving a weapon of mass destruction. I am not exaggerating: The relevant section of Title 18 of the US Code specifies that the term “weapon of mass destruction” applies to such “destructive devices” as “any incendiary, explosive, or poison gas….”
Leroy Shafer, chief operating officer for the rodeo, pointed out that “If it was John Q. Public [who committed the offense], we would arrest then press the full charges that the law would allow.” Owing to his “service,” however, Hamby will most likely be permitted to retire and collect his pension.
“I don’t think anyone, even a State thug, considers CN or CS a `poison gas,’” comments a well-informed LRC reader. “CN is sold over the counter, and is not considered a `destructive device’ by any agency. Only once ignited, and it turns into hydrogen cyanide, can CS be poisonous.”
While tear gas grenades are not considered destructive devices when used by enforcement agencies, a sufficiently dishonest and ambitious prosecutor would have no difficulty describing them as chemical weapon “precursors” in the unhallowed hands of a commoner. Federal statutes specify that “the term `weapons of mass destruction’” includes any weapon that can cause injury “through the release, dissemination, or impact of toxic or poisonous chemicals, or their precursors” (emphasis added).
It’s not difficult to see how that language would be used by a federal prosecutor if a Mundane released tear gas at an event where people are operating cook stoves.10:55 pm on March 12, 2011 Email William Norman Grigg