No matter how we may feel about the U.S. waging war in the Middle East, or how suspect we are about the motives of the people who put us there, one thing most of us will readily acknowledge is this: The vast majority of the people who serve in the armed forces do so for the noblest of reasons. They believe in the American ideals of freedom, fairness and justice.
Antonio Buehler is a 34-year-old Iraqi War veteran who risked his life for those ideals. He is a West Point graduate. Today he faces 10 years behind bars for standing up for them at home. His crime?Â Photographing two police officers, who he felt were mistreating a young woman being arrested on New Yearâs eve, for suspicion of DUI. The two officers of the Austin Police Department arrested Buehler and heâs been charged with harassment of a public servant, a felony that carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. Why did Antonio Buehler get involved at all?
âI saw a woman getting assaulted by the police. It looked like police abuse, and I decided to speak up and take pictures. I think that is every personâs right,â
The police report alleges that Buehler âshovedâ and âspit onâ one of the arresting officers. Unfortunately for the Austin Police Department, there is both eyewitness and video evidence to the contrary. There is a YouTube video, that while admittedly overproduced, effectively disproves the claims made in the official report.
Watch the action unfold in this video:
As you can well imagine, the Austin Police Department has been less than sympathetic to Buehlerâs situation. There is an internal affairs investigation being conducted on the two officers involved, but they wonât share any information with him. It would appear that the former soldierâs last hopes of avoiding trial rest with the Austin Citizen Review Panel. They can make a recommendation to the police department after he meets with them, next month.
There is an also anÂ online petitionÂ that seeks to defend Buehler and have the police officers charged. It gives you a little insight into the character of the man who risked his life overseas for his country, and risked his freedom when he spoke up at home; he was given a breathalyzer test that NYE, and he passed it because he was the designated driver. Another job that nobody wants, but someone had to take on. Because itâs the right thing to do.
In truth, the longer you look at Antonio Buehler, the more you understand what it is we should all be fighting for; this is a patriot whose ideals have shaped and informed his actions, and continue to do so to this day. The country he fought for isnât rewarding him very fairly, heâs been accused of assaulting a police officer in his home state of Texas, in nearby Arizona theÂ police can legally detainÂ him based on theÂ color of his skinÂ their suspicions he may not be American.
But he doesnât stand down and he doesnât surrender, Buehler has recently created theÂ Peaceful Streets Project,Â âan all-volunteer, grassroots undertaking uniting Austinites behind the common goal of ending the institutional violence taking place on Austin streets. Through community organizing, training, and direct action tactics, the Peaceful Streets Project seeks to support marginalized communities in understanding, exercising, and standing up for their rights.â
His plan is to arm the citizens of Austin with video cameras, to be used when they see abuses of power. No matter what part of the political spectrum you may fall on, if you canât get behind Antonio Buehler, you shouldnât call yourself American. He seems to embody every trait that Americans holds dear, and demands that the America heâs served do the same.