As a libertarian minded conservative, I was angered recently when the Pennsylvania State Police and the Liquor Control Board raided a local Elks club and seized money and video poker machines. Many people where I live are livid about the raid, and blame the State Police and Liquor Control for their overbearing tactics.
The Elks are popular in this town of about 4,200 that's still struggling to recover from the decline of the coal industry. The lodge sponsors a Little League baseball team, summertime movies in the borough park and a fishing tournament for kids. To many Frackville residents, the raid was politically motivated or was another example of how the downtrodden region gets no respect.
"It would be different if they were selling dope or prostitutes or if the football pool was $100,000 a block," said Bender, who is not a member of the Elks. "It's a shame. The state police and LCB don't realize what the Elks do for the veterans and the kids."
I agree that the police overstepped their bounds. The Elks clubs of the United States do more for the communities they serve in one weekend than most State Police barracks do in a year.
What really upset many people was that several months ago a woman joined the Elks and Elks Auxiliary. Turned out she was an undercover State Policewoman. She joined and was active in the Elks for the last several months. The day of the raid she was serving breakfast at their monthly breakfast fundraiser.
She joined a fraternal organization, and during the solemn and serious initiation ceremony, she promised to never wrong a fellow Elk. Though it may seem trivial to some, members of these fraternal organizations mean it when they promise to uphold the tenets of their orders. And the fact is that the police officer basically made a mockery of it, and that really stung.