The Hidden Cause of BLM Riots
Civil Asset Forfeiture is just the beginning of Policing for Profit
Remember the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the civil unrest that followed? It seemed like a powder keg had gone off. The media was quick to blame the officer involved, but it never mentioned a corrupt and broken system of policing-for-profit that had plagued Ferguson residents in the tense years building up to the climactic shooting.
In the backdrop of the riots that rippled outward from Ferguson is an unreported increase in unconstitutional fines and fees that are eroding trust in law enforcement and turning routine traffic stops into highway robbery.
William R. Maurer is the Managing Attorney of the Washington state office of the Institute for Justice, which engages in litigation in the areas of economic liberty, private property rights, educational choice, & freedom of speech. Maurer last joined my show to discuss how the politically powerful use government to usurp private property from average folks. The Institute for Justice is well known for its litigation in the Kelo case, which sparked a revolution of state legislation to prevent egregious eminent domain “takings” of property such as the one that befell Suzette Kelo and her “little pink house.”
Although the IJ lost that particular case, their track record in defending our every day constitutional liberties in court is unparalleled.
Is your government telling you that you need a license to braid hair or massage horses? Call the IJ.
Had your car stolen through civil asset forfeiture so the city can buy new militarized police gear? Call the IJ.
And now, if you’ve been one of a growing number of victims of exorbitant fees for non-crimes like “having mismatched blinds, kiddie pools in the front yard, and basement windows without drapes,” you might consider calling the Institute for Justice.
Maurer joins me Sunday to talk about the IJ’s 14th suit challenging abusive fines and fees since discovering this new form of policing-for-profit, whereby some cities have begun to collect a majority of their operating budget from large fines over small-to-non-existent violations.
One city, Pagedale, MO, has increased its fines by 495% since 2010, but Maurer notes that statistics cannot convey the real harms of these excessive fines, which sink citizens in a spiral of debt, poverty, and more infractions.
While it may seem hopeless to those whose cases are never elevated to the higher courts, the IJ is providing a voice for victims, and it’s our job to amplify that voice until more states pass laws to cap the percentage of city revenue that can be raised through fines and fees. We need to convey the root causes behind the riots and unrest, and the anger vented against the culprits in government rather than innocent business owners.
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