Monday, April 13, 2015

Petty tax farmers

In city after city, our so-called law enforcement infrastructure is directed toward extracting fees from defenseless people.
When I read the Department of Justice Department's scathing report about Ferguson, Mo., and how the police there were routinely harassing black people to add more money to the town's coffers, I was reminded of a similar report the Department of Justice wrote about New Orleans four years ago. That report didn't accuse the police here as being driven by money, but it did say that it arrested so many more black youths than white youths that the disparity couldn't plausibly be explained with statistics, with the varying rates those demographics commit crimes.

So as New Orleans is so is Ferguson.

Wait, Karakatsanis writes. "After conducting interviews with community groups, victims, and lawyers in dozens of cities, as well as performing simple Internet searching, I have been unable to find a major metropolitan American police force without a recent history of systemic constitutional abuses."

And he writes of an unnamed place in Alabama where people are being held in jail for unpaid tickets and told they can cut $25 dollars off their debt each day they work as a janitor for the city.
These are medieval practices.  People with  weapons are sanctioned by the government to harass and collect from the lower classes in the name of keeping the peace. But they are more ingrained in American life than we like to believe a lot of the time.   We do a remarkable job of lying to ourselves about it given just how many people are affected in this way.

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