Target: United States Department of Justice
Goal: Investigate and put a stop to the abuse of civil forfeiture laws by police against families and homeowners
Recent news outlets have reported an increase in asset seizure amongst police departments in cities across the United States. Asset seizure, otherwise known as civil forfeiture, allows police departments to seize real or monetary assets from criminal organizations. These laws were originally intended as a measure to be taken against organized crime, but are recently being used to seize the homes and the business assets of citizens and their families, even if they have not themselves been convicted of a crime.
Recent cases speak to this problem. News outlets have reported that an elderly couple in Philadelphia had their home seized by police after their son “allegedly sold twenty dollars worth of marijuana from their front porch.” Similarly, another couple had their home seized by police in the City of Brotherly love after their grandson was arrested for the distribution of cocaine. Police found no drugs in the house; they found only “unused packets.” Another report discusses a church official in Virginia who was arrested for speeding with over twenty-five thousand dollars of donations from petitioners in his car. The police seized this money via an invocation of civil forfeiture legislation, despite the fact that this money belonged “without a reasonable doubt” to his congregation. None of these individuals possessed, according to one report, “the means to fight back” against such a repressive state apparatus.
Civil forfeitures were meant to break up organized crime rings and to expose money laundering. The above cases do neither of these; rather, they simply drive the families, neighbors, friends, and associates of suspected criminals into poverty. The funds seized during these civil forfeitures are used to line the pockets of corrupt cops and city officials. We are supposed to trust our police. They are supposed to serve us. In our current era of recession, police departments are using their power to drive law-abiding citizens into poverty. Tell the United States Department of Justice to investigate the above cases and others like them. We won’t tolerate repressive, abusive, and illegal measures by our law enforcement in the Untied States.
Dear Eric Holder, United States Attorney General,
A terrible abuse of power is going on in police departments across America. American citizens are losing their homes, business funds, and assets to their state and local police departments despite not being responsible for any wrongdoing or criminal misappropriation of said funds. Does it seem just for an elderly couple to lose their home simply because their son allegedly sold a scant amount of marijuana from their front porch? Does it seem right for a church official to see over twenty-thousand dollars worth of donations from his congregation handed over to police, simply because he was stopped for speeding?
These circumstances are unjust; they are not right. Civil forfeiture laws were meant to break up criminal organizations such as the Mafia, not to penalize the family members of suspected low-level drug dealers or church secretaries who lean too heavy on the gas pedal. We will not sit idly by and watch crooked cops and corrupt city officials profit at the hands of law-abiding Americans. We urge you to start a federal investigation into the misuse of federal civil forfeiture laws across the United States to put a stop to this heinous process and to duly process those officials guilty of abusing their power.
[Your Name Here]
photo credit: Rama via Wikimedia Commons