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Twilight of the Courts: The Elusive Search for Justice in the American Police State

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This commentary is also available at www.rutherford.org.

By John W. Whitehead
June 5, 2017

“As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air – however slight – lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.”—Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas We have entered a new regime and it’s called the American police state. More

Are you guilty until proved innocent?

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D o w n s i z e r – D i s p a t c h

Quote of the Day: “Under civil forfeiture, police and prosecutors can seize your car or other property, sell it and use the proceeds to fund agency budgets, all without so much as charging you with a crime. Unlike criminal forfeiture, where property is taken after its owner has been found guilty in a court of law, with civil forfeiture, owners need not be charged with or convicted of a crime to lose homes, cars, cash or other property. Americans are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, but civil forfeiture turns that principle on its head.” – The Institute For Justice, “Policing For Profits”

Civil asset forfeiture is the practice of seizing and keeping property that police claim was used in a crime.

* The government does not have to prove their claim in court under the standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt”
* Instead of “innocent until proven guilty” the property owner must prove innocence at his or her own expense
* Incredibly, the funds necessary to pay for that defense are often also confiscated

Police departments are growing more dependent on forfeitures to pay for their budgets. This means no one is safe . . .

* Instead of “protecting and serving” the people, police are pressured to investigate “crimes” which provide the best opportunity to seize property and cash,
* You can lose your car, your cash, or other property through a simple misunderstanding, or because you “look” suspicious
* And even where there are state laws protecting the innocent against abuses, the federal government rewards local police departments for evading state law!

Civil asset forfeiture is a moral and constitutional outrage. Yet the courts permit it. Only public pressure will bring this corrupt and barbaric practice to an end, so we’re asking you to tell Congress to End Asset Forfeiture.
You may borrow from or copy this letter . . . More

Militarizing local police forces……a crime wave of its own

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D o w n s i z e r – D i s p a t c h


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.

You can cut and paste the examples provided above into your personal comments.

Please also share this Dispatch with others and Digg it on our blog.

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

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

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