Friday, March 14, 2014

American Police State: Highway Robbery Division

It's a time honored profession in the United States. A lone gunman stops a vehicle in, let's say Nevada. The gunman orders the people out of the vehicle, he takes all the money they possess, and he sends them on their way. There was a time that when this act was illegal and the local county sheriff would gather up a posse to chase down these brigands. But times have changed. Today the most profitable highwaymen are local law enforcement officers.
Joaquin Murrieta lived in the wrong century.
The law that allows this is called "civil forfeiture." If police stop you along the road and discover a significant amount of cash they can just up and take it. They don't have to arrest you or accuse you of any crime or even have any evidence of a crime. One trick used to great effect is to kidnap, I mean arrest, someone on trumped up charges and only release him after he signs a waiver forfeiting his belongings to the robbers, I'm sorry, to the police. Police agencies will take money, cars, even people's homes.

While it is possible to get the property back it is a long, involved legal process. An expensive legal process that, since the police already have taken the victim's money, few people can afford the fight. Most people are helpless to defend themselves and must meekly accept the fact they have been fucked by the police.

This is not police corruption, it is an imperfectly legal operation that police agencies use to supplement their budgets. If the county sheriff wants some fancy new gadget he doesn't have to go to the county government and beg for funds, he simply sends he officers out to confiscate the money. Officers who make a big haul of booty are celebrated for their skill at highway robbery.

By the way, it is also totally a violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution but courts have ruled that the Constitution does not apply.

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