DownsizeDC.org
February 18, 2009
Highway Robbery
By James Wilson

Quote of the Day: "The idea that people lose their property but are never charged and never get it back, that's theft as far as I'm concerned." -- Texas State Senator John Whitmire

Subject: Highway Robbery

If you happen to travel through east Texas, avoid Tenaha, especially if you're African American. The Tenaha police may stop you and rob you, without even charging you with a crime. They even took $4,000 from a great-grandmother.

Tenaha, a town of 1,000, has used its robbery proceeds to build a new police station, and buy a second police car to extend its legal crime wave. But perhaps it's unfair to single out Tenaha. Police departments all over America are doing the same thing, committing not only robbery, but also acts of terrorism.

Apparently, no one is safe. Just ask Cheye Calvo, the Mayor of Berwyn Heights, Maryland . . .

County police mistakenly targeted the Calvo home as a marijuana drop-off point. Police invaded the home, bound the mayor's mother-in-law, and shot the family's dogs. The Calvo's were cleared of all wrongdoing, but the police won't admit it made any mistakes.

Radley Balko reports  that the use of SWAT teams and no-knock raids has soared, even when there's no evidence that a targeted home poses any threat. These aggressive raids allow police to surprise the suspect and find as much valuable property to seize as quickly as possible.

Law enforcement agencies then auction off this property and spend the money on themselves, even when the victims they robbed are never convicted of any crime. Instead, the victims must prove that they are NOT guilty of a crime.

Proving a negative is almost impossible. That's why innocence is presumed in free societies, and the state bears the burden of proving guilt. Civil asset forfeiture turn this principle on its head. It even forces victims to prove that their property was never used in a crime.

This means that most seized property is never returned, even to people who are completely innocent.

The asset forfeiture laws give police a huge incentive to steal as much as possible. They also create a conflict-of-interest. Police make more money seizing the proceeds of drug sales than by preventing drug sales. This contradicts the supposed purpose of drug prohibition.

But it gets worse . . .

The newly-enacted "stimulus" bill includes $4 billion for state and local law enforcement.  You will now be funding an expanded wave of police robbery.

Please use our quick and easy Educate the Powerful System to ask Congress to repeal civil asset forfeiture.

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Thank-you for being a part of the Downsize DC Army.

James Wilson
Assistant to the President
DownsizeDC.org, Inc.

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