October 3, 2013
In part one of this series, I documented how the banks are positioning for an economic crash by securing as many hard assets as possible. Whether it be your home that is stolen through MERS fraud, or your secure brokerage account which is stolen by John Corzine and MF Global, or if it is an unjust court ruling which allows the banks the legal right to steal your bank deposits, nobody’s private property is safe from confiscation.
Policing for Fun and Profit
The practice discussed in this article is called civil asset forfeiture is often referred to as “policing for profit”, and it involves every aspect of law enforcement from the local police to federal authorities. Civil asset forfeiture laws permit the authorities the legal right to actually steal your private assets. No, these laws are not the RICO laws in which convicted drug dealers and money launderers forfeit their private property which was obtained in the commission of organized criminal activity. Civil asset forfeiture allows law enforcement the “legal right” to steal your assets even when you have not been convicted or even when you have not been accused of a crime. The practice makes potential thugs and thieves out of every law enforcement official who dons a badge.
No judge will ever rule that this practice is unconstitutional, which it clearly is, because the judge gets to go to conferences (i.e. vacations), can eat for free at expensive restaurants, drive a county vehicle for free, attend football games for free and generally enjoy the perks that any common thief gets to enjoy as a result of sharing in the spoils of this unconstitutional activity.
In many jurisdictions, the money has been used to fund the re-election campaign of a local District Attorney. In Georgia, civil asset forfeiture money was used to purchase expensive football tickets for local officials. The money can also be used to pay for salaries, elaborate and expensive equipment and other perks not necessarily related to law enforcement.
The practice of civil asset forfeiture has corrupted our entire legal process and this practice is best summarized in the following the video.
When salaries and perks are on the line, rogue cops have a strong incentive to increase the seizures, as evidenced by an increase in the regularity and size of such seizures in recent years. Asset forfeiture practices often go hand-in-hand with racial profiling and according to the ACLU can seriously impact low-income African-American or Hispanic people in which local police can exercise their law enforcement discretion and decide who “looks suspicious” and for whom the arduous and expensive process of trying to get one’s property back is an expensive challenge.
Victimizing Minorities for Fun and Profit
Beginning in 2006, the police in Tenaha, Texas would randomly stop, search, and would steal private property from Blacks and Hispanics traveling through the town even though there was no suspicion of criminal activity.
Typically, the police shakedown would consist of threatening travelers that if they did not turn over their cash and other identified valuables, they would be arrested on money laundering charges and have their children taken by Child Protective Services. If they turned over the cash, they would be let go. Most people would simply turn over their money. Some people actually tried to recover their money, but found they needed to hire lawyers and prove their innocence in front a judge who was profiting from the seizures, a process that was too expensive and not practical for many.
Several individuals affected by this practice joined a class-action lawsuit against Tenaha and several city and county officials, challenging these illegal stops and seizures. The ACLU joined the case, Morrow v. City of Teneha, et al., in July 2012. In August 2012, the ACLU settled a class action suit against officials in Tenaha and Shelby Counties
James Morrow was arrested and spent the night in jail as he was traveling through Tenaha, TX. Police seized nearly $4,000 in cash and threatened to prosecute him for money laundering if he did not forfeit his money. To get out of jail, he agreed to forfeit his cash and he was let go. Morrow eventually got his money back but had to pay over $3,500 in attorney fees to recover his money. Morrow and dozens of other victims contacted the ACLU. It was estimated that as much as $3 million dollars was stolen by local officials from innocent motorists between 2006 and 2008 in over 140 cases. Morrow and dozens of others were made whole over five years later.
The examples are infuriating. An elderly couple in Philadelphia had their home seized after their son allegedly sold $20 worth of grass on the front porch. A church secretary in Virginia had $28,500 in church donations confiscated by the highway patrol because he was caught speeding.
In Tennessee, along Interstate 40, the police are shaking down out of state motorists and stealing their cash and property at rates that dwarf the proven criminality of Tenaha, TX. NewsChannel 5 in Nashville, Tennessee created the following video which clearly demonstrates how police use “civil asset forfeiture” laws to steal money from unsuspecting motorists. Please note how the Deputy District Attorney admits that her jurisdiction make money from this process. Also make note of how a local Tennessee police chief admits that if officers do not seize “enough” cash, they could lose their jobs.
Under civil forfeiture laws, the government does not have to report how many cases of individual theft that they engage in, nor are they required to report the amount of money stolen from individual citizens. Citizens don’t have to be found guilty to forfeit their assets. It is a very large loophole that law enforcement agencies are more than happy to exploit to the tune of $4.2 billion annually.
There are some common sense practices that motorists can follow in an attempt to minimize the damage. First, if you are dealing with a federal law enforcement agency, invoke your Fifth Amendment right to not answer any questions. If you make the mistake of speaking to the federal officials, they can accuse you of lying (your word vs. their word) and you can do time for this offense. Additionally, advise the officials that you are not speaking to them without an attorney present and when they mock you and ask you why, hold to your right to remain silent. When they ask you for permission to search your vehicle, tell them to get a warrant and that you are insisting on having an attorney present if they have any suspicion that you have broken any laws. They will belittle you and threaten you for not cooperating, but do not back down. If you are polite, professional, yet firm and appear to know your rights, the cops might move on to an easier, less constitutionally aware person. Also, if at all possible, film the entire encounter. And for goodness sake, try to not travel with very much cash on you, particularly if you traveling out of state, because as you have seen, the local police mafia is lying in wait.
We live in a time when banks, brokerages and the government can “legally” steal from you without following due process of law. We live in a country with no rules. Might makes right and you have about as much civil liberty as a person walking the streets of Somalia.
I used to respect all police officers, but it is difficult to not hold the entire profession in contempt because they are the mobile tax collectors for the Sheriff of Nottingham. Claiming to be understaffed, they often refuse to respond to calls for help, but they are “Johnny-on-the-spot” when it comes to stealing your property. First the banks, now the police mafia.
Nobody knows exactly how many citizens are actually victimized by this highway robbery. Estimates place the number of victims at over 100,000 cases per year. Let’s be clear, this practice is a clear violation of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the United States Constitution. I almost forgot to mention, that everyone of these actions by the police are consistent with a nation that is under martial law.