July 12, 2013
Joe Draego refused to show police his drivers license at the checkpoint because he says he did nothing wrong and does not have to hand it over to them. Draego says it's his way of standing up against what he calls an aggressive and entitled police force.
"I told him I wasn't going to give him my ID, that it was unconstitutional," said Draego, who was stopped at the checkpoint on Old Brooke Road on Thursday on his way home. "I asked him if I was being charged with a crime, he said 'no' so I said, I'm free to go."
Draego says it was a pretty heated debate between him and the officer. He continued to refuse and then he says an officer threatened to break his window and eventually they told him to pull over.
"We had another argument then they took my tag numbers, checked my license, they said it was good and they said I could go. I went home, I made a sign as quick as I could that said 'This is how it started in Nazi Germany: police state checkpoints," said Draego.
He says issues with police in Charlottesville and all over the country have been building over the years. Most recently, he mentioned the ABC agents who arrested and sent a UVa student to jail overnight on April 11th after mistaking water for beer.
"My grandchild is this darling little girl and if we don't stand up for our children, our mates and our grandchildren I think the future is going to be bleak," he said.
But the law says the checkpoints are legal and police asking brief questions is legal.
"The courts upheld the traffic blocks because they're a traffic safety issue that there's public safety interest in seeing to it that drivers are licensed that drivers are not impaired in some way," says Charlottesville attorney Scott Goodman. That law was upheld years ago.
Some people living on Old Brook Road like the police presence because it slows drivers down.
"We have a lot of speeders and that's a big concern for me, having a small child who plays outside sometimes so we're in favor of having any law enforcement in our neighborhood," said Ellen Powell, who says she's let police park in their driveway before to use radar on cars driving by.
But in Draego's eyes, this small demonstration is one action that can hopefully make a difference for his family's future.
"I know I can look them in the eye and said I tried my best and that's all I can do."
Draego said police told him they were going to serve him a warrant on Friday but he has not received it yet.