Thread. Have you ever heard of "civil asset forfeiture"? You're never going to think about the police the same way again. (1)
A few years ago, when I was at the public defender's office, my very poor clients kept telling me the same story: they would be walking down the street and DC police would stop them, search them at gunpoint, tell them to open their wallets, and take all the cash they had. (2)
The wildest part? The DC police would then send them a letter saying that, if they wanted to challenge the police taking of their cash, they would need to pay either $250 or 10% of the amount taken, whichever was more! (3)
So, if police took $10 or $20 from someone, the person would need to pay $250 to even have the right to challenge the cops in court. If you couldn't pay, the cops kept your money. (4)
If you challenged them in court, you'd have to prove that your property was *not* somehow connected to a crime. Think about how hard that is. (5)
If you still wanted to challenge the DC police, they'd send a lawyer to litigate an entire civil asset forfeiture case against you, and you aren't entitled to a lawyer if you're poor because the cops call it a civil case not a criminal case. You have to fight them alone. (6)
Sure enough, when I examined the DC records, the cops had taken cash from thousands of people, almost entirely Black people. They'd also taken hundreds of cars from people, mostly older women of color. I couldn't find a single example of a person successfully challenging it. (7)
A lot of the time, cops were taking $5 and $30 from extremely poor people who were struggling to meet the basic necessities of life for their children, like buying food and diapers and shoes. (7)
In most places, there is no need for the cops to arrest you with civil forfeiture. There's no need for a conviction. They can just allege that your property is connected to a crime and take it. Then they can keep most of it for fancy weapons and corrupt travel junkets. (8)
To understand the scope of this problem, you should know that cops take more money from people in civil asset forfeiture than all burglaries combined in the U.S. (9) washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2…
The cops at the local, state, and federal levels across the country have taken almost $70 billion in civil forfeiture in the past 20 years! (10) ij.org/press-release/…
When cops ask you for more funding, remember that only 4% of all cop time is spent on what they call "violent crime." Next time they ask for money, remember the kafkaesque abuses at every U.S. police department and ask if cops actually care about safety for everyone. (end)
By the way, here's a great piece from @NewYorker that tells some of the stories of our clients in D.C. newyorker.com/magazine/2013/…

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More from @equalityAlec

Aug 12
THREAD. What's happening in Atlanta today should be national news. Under the guise of "humanitarian" intervention, the local Democratic Mayor, reversing his own attempts to close horrific local jail, is attempting to make cash by "leasing" out jail to cage more people for $$$.
Read about what Mayor @andreforatlanta is trying to do. Represents some of the worst, most cynical elements of local politics. It's not "humanitarian" or about safety. It's about creating more space to cage poor people instead of meeting community needs. ajc.com/opinion/closin…
More background on the story here if you can't read the article above:
Read 5 tweets
Aug 11
Our society ignores massive criminality. The most consequential crimes are ignored, and they are so pervasive that we don't even think of them as crime. Corporations are littering plastic on an unthinkable scale and it's destroying the world. vox.com/recode/2305625…
The penalty for a person littering on the street is a misdemeanor. Massive littering operations that change the nature of all human and animal life, threaten fertility, and threaten survival of the planet? Not only ignored by police, but giant subsidies to keep doing it.
As Voltaire said: "It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished, unless they kill in large numbers, and to the sound of trumpets . . ." Hundreds of examples here, and why it matters so much: yalelawjournal.org/forum/the-puni…
Read 4 tweets
Aug 9
THREAD. A common media tactic is calling right-wing policies that selectively use state violence against working class people "tough on crime" or "crime prevention" or "fighting crime." This is a major issue for people of good will who care about preventing the rise of fascism.
Take a look at the example below. Language like this subtly but pervasively reinforces the science-denying myth that people's safety from crime is dependent on more cops/surveillance/weapons and not on housing, health, education, pollution, inequality reduction, etc.
Here is a similar, subtle example from @Reuters
Read 10 tweets
Aug 7
Thread: As Democrats push for $10.5 billion for 100,000 more cops next week, I'm thinking about Cindy Rodriguez. She was a 51-year-old mother of two living with a physical disability. Police arrested for shoplifting from a grocery store. What happened to her next is important.
Because Cindy had never been arrested in her life, the DA told her that her case would be dismissed if she just paid some cash. This kind of extortion is common. DAs and cops across U.S. use cash from "diversion" programs to boost their already bloated budgets.
But for Cindy the extortion unraveled her life. She was so poor that she had trouble even paying for utilities with her disability check. Like 1,000,000s of others in the U.S., Cindy was placed on "probation" with a private company because she couldn't pay cash owed.
Read 17 tweets
Aug 4
THREAD: One of our clients was an 11-year-old Black child taking a shower before bed when DC police burst into her bathroom, pulled back the curtain, and pointed guns at her naked body. Cops said they found a little marijuana on her dad (who didn't live there) two weeks before.
We sued D.C. police over this case a few years ago and won, but I immediately thought about this story when I saw that Democrats in Congress want to spend billions to arm 100,000 more cops and to give cops more surveillance tech and weapons.
Most people have absolutely no idea what the police bureaucracy actually does. Cops commit millions of physical and sexual assaults every year and only spend 4% of their time on what cops themselves call violent crime.
Read 11 tweets
Aug 1
THREAD. The Atlantic just published a terrible piece of copaganda. It's a good example of copaganda by a smart but confused progressive writer. Because we need well-meaning people to change how they report on the urgent problems of the punishment bureaucracy—I did this thread.
The thesis is that “the cause” of a recent “crime wave” is trials and other court proceedings are backlogged. There are profound problems with the @AlecMacGillis's entire premise, and also the misinformation he allowed cops/prosecutors to spread. theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/…
I set forth the most serious problems in detail with links and evidence in my newsletter, which is always free. If you have time, check it out. If not, I set forth some of the major problems in this thread. equalityalec.substack.com/p/when-good-jo…
Read 52 tweets

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