Thursday, May 7, 2009

Piracy only on the high seas? Think again, cops are jacking minorities in TX…Arggg (not my idea of a post-racial society)

CNN and other major news agencies are reporting that motorists are being stopped and robbed on the highway. What’s the issue? They’re being robbed by the police! That’s right, the cops, and the very folks sworn to protect and serve us. According to the story, several victims are now seeking redress from the Tenaha Police Department in a lawsuit seeking to end what the plaintiff's lawyer, David Guillory, calls a “systematic fleecing of drivers passing through the town of about 1,000.”

As common in most jurisdictions, the police can confiscate drugs and other illegal and/or dangerous articles. Some states even allow sale of confiscated items after conviction. However, if there is no conviction or charges are not filed, then legal possessions must be returned to the individual. I don’t know of any state police agency that demands thousands of dollars cash or take your jewelry on the spot—unless they are on the take.

The plaintiffs’ attorney, Guillory, estimates Tenaha police seized $3 million between 2006 and 2008, and in about 150 cases — virtually all of which involved African-American or Latino motorists — the seizures were improper. According to Guillory, “They are disproportionately going after racial minorities,” he said. “My take on the matter is that the police in Tenaha, Texas, were picking on and preying on people that were least likely to fight back.”

City officials, including the Mayor, are circling the wagons and saying that proper procedures under Texas law were followed and that Texas law allows use of “seized” items “for official use.” So, where do the proceeds go?

According to Stop Corrupt DSS a CNN public records review said this is how:
  • $524 for a popcorn machine

  • $195 for candy for a poultry festival

  • $400 for catering

  • $6,000 to a local Baptist church

  • $10,000 went to Barry Washington, a Tenaha police officer for “investigative costs.” By the way, Washington has been repeatedly named in several complaints by stopped motorists.

  • In addition, money was donated to the local chamber of commerce and a youth baseball league.

Man, this opens up all kinds of issues. For starters, is this a state-sponsored shake down or what? What’s my advice? Plan your trip around this town or maybe even the state if you can. Think I’m kidding? Keep in mind that Jasper Texas, which is just down the road, is where James Byrd was dragged and lynched. Need I say more? What say you?

Also, how can a state that’s given us two Presidents harbor such ignorance? Looking at this, could the people of Louisiana be right in their assertion that their lack of aid during Hurricane Katrina was racially motivated? Before, during, and after the election of Barack Obama as the nations’ first African-American President, pundits and political thinkers have been talking about the coming of a “post-racial society”— that race matters much less than it used to, that the boundaries of race have been overcome, and that racism is no longer a big problem. I don’t think so! From whites buying guns to Economic Survivalist to conservative talk radio to white supremacy; the Barack Obama Presidency has divided or at least shown how racially polarized this country really is. And, if there’s anything this story yells out loud and clear it’s that we ARE NOT in a post race society, that we are living separately, and we are still not all equal.

Albert Einsten once said, “Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.” Want more? Read these realated posts: (1) "Want A 'Justice' System? End Four Wack Practices" (2) "Shopping While Black? Don't Get Mad, Get Activist!"


Anji said...

Texas? My daughter is writing to inmates on death row and we all know what colour most of them are.

I think this is probably common practise in a lot of countries - share the spoils.

I know that this is a little off subject but you only have to be different to be on the wrong side...
I expect you know this story only too well already:

This is one of the day of remembrance videos for last year:

Iam Robert said...


So true, police agencies all over the world do it. Here, all you have to do is travel during a holiday to see all the police on the road! But what's happening in Tenaha is a lot more. These folks seem to be actually being extorted for their money and valuables: all without a jury trial. And that's something that just shouldn't be allowed to happen.
There is great debate in this country about why our prisons hold so many minorities and especially black males. However, most authorities agree that disparities do exist such as unequal sentencing laws. I touch on this and three other unfair practices in my article, “Want A “Justice” System? End Four Wack Practices.” I think you'll find it enlightening. It is one of the related posts.
PS - Thanks for the video link. I'll check it out this PM.