Freedom Flix

Federal & Local Law Enforcement Agencies Try to Take Family Motel from Innocent Owners

 

 

Imagine you own a million-dollar piece of property free and clear, but then the federal government and local law enforcement agents announce that they are going to take it from you, not compensate you one dime, and then use the money they get from selling your land to pad their budgets—all this even though you have never so much as been accused of a crime, let alone convicted of one. That is the nightmare Russ Caswell and his family is now facing in Tewksbury, Mass., where they stand to lose the family-operated motel they have owned for two generations. Seeking to circumvent state law and cash in on the profits, the Tewksbury Police Department is working with the U.S. Department of Justice to take and sell the Caswells property because a tiny fraction of people who have stayed at the Motel Caswell during the past 20 years have been arrested for crimes. Keep in mind, the Caswells themselves have worked closely with law enforcement officials to prevent and report crime on their property. And the arrests the government complains of represent less than .0005 percent of the 125,000 rooms the Caswells have rented over that period of time. Despite all this, the Caswells stand to lose literally everything they have worked for because of this effort by federal and local law enforcement officials not to pursue justice, but rather to police for profit. How widespread is the problem of civil forfeiture abuse nationwide? In 1986, the year after the U.S. Department of Justice’s Asset Forfeiture Fund was created—the fund that holds the forfeiture proceeds from properties forfeited under federal law and available to be paid out to law enforcement agencies—took in just $93.7 million. Today it holds more than $1.6 billion. The Institute for Justice, a national public interest law firm that fights civil forfeiture abuse nationwide, is now representing the Caswells in defense of their property and their constitutional rights.

 

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Freedom Flix

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   The Forfeiture Machine Turns Cops into Robbers (3:50)
The most terrifying place in Philadelphia is Courtroom 478 in City Hall. This is where property owners enter Philadelphia’s Civil Forfeiture Machine.
   The Fight for Braiding Freedom (5:35)
Since the advent of hair braiding more than 5,000 years ago, it has been a simple and safe practice that government has no business regulating. African-style hair braiding uses no dyes or chemicals, and it is safe for braiders to perform.
   Food Trucks and Carts Are Just as Clean as Restaurants (1:07)
Research compares food-safety inspection scores of food trucks, food carts and restaurants in seven major American cities—and finds that street eats are safe eats. www.ij.org/vending
   Licensed Dentist Attacked for Charging Too Little (2:23)
When is it illegal for a licensed dentist in Arkansas to clean teeth? When he also happens to be a licensed orthodontist.
   Gov't grabs elderly man's home; won't give reason (4:10)
New Jersey’s CRDA is trying to use eminent domain to seize Charlie Birnbaum's property as part of a “mixed-use development” project. The trouble is that CRDA has no concrete plans to do anything in particular with it.
   Gov't to Citizens: Want Free Speech? Take a number. (1:15)
Can the gov't pass a law saying that only the first 12 people to vote in an election get to vote for every office, or that only the first 12 people who arrive at church get to stay for the entire sermon?
   Ariz. Supreme Court Declares Edu. Choice Program Constitutional (2:04)
The Arizona Supreme Court announced today that it will not review a unanimous Court of Appeals' decision that declared Arizona's Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) Program passes constitutional muster.
   Gov't Says "Naaayyyy" to Horse Massage (1:59)
The Ariz. State Veterinary Medical Examining Board wants to throw entrepreneurs who massage animals without a veterinary license into jail and fine them $3,500 per violation.
   Let Kids Escape Failing North Carolina Schools (3:09)
IJ has intervened to defend North Carolina's Opportunity Scholarship Program for low income parents like Cynthia Perry.
   The Top 6 Craziest Things Cops Spent Forfeiture Money On (1:07)
Under civil asset forfeiture, police can seize property suspected of involvement in criminal activity.
   Behind the Scenes of the Caswell Forfeiture Victory (5:58)
Last January, a federal court in Massachusetts dismissed a civil forfeiture action against the Motel Caswell, a family-run motel in Tewksbury, handing a complete victory to owners Russell and Patricia Caswell.
   Little American Dream Factory: Chicago Bureaucrats Put the Brakes on an Innovative Business (5:02)
The story of Zina Murray, her innovative business, and how Chicago killed it along with the dreams of fifteen other entrepreneurs.
   City Forces Homeowners to Destroy Veggie Garden (0:51)
May the government prohibit you from peacefully and productively using your own property to feed your family?
   Raw Deal: Raw Milk Farmers Fight Censorship (3:15)
In Oregon, it is perfectly legal for farmers to sell raw—or unpasteurized—milk...so long as they don’t talk about it. If they do, they face huge fines and jail time.
   Half-baked: Gov't Restricts Homemade Cookie Sales (1:56)
Can the government arbitrarily restrict where home-baking entrepreneurs can sell their treats or how much they can sell?
   Terms of Engagement: More Constitution Less Government (1:39)
The Constitution was designed to limit government power and protect individuals from the tyranny of majorities and interest-group politics. But those protections are meaningless without judges who are fully committed to enforcing them, and America's judge
   Handcuffed hairbraider sues in federal court for right to teach (2:41)
Braiders Aren't Barbers: African Hairbraider Takes Texas to Federal Court Over Economic Liberty.
   Out of control Feds raid family grocery store’s checking account over innocent bank deposits (1:45)
Government bullies are taking the little guy's milk money.
   Gov’t Forces Businesses to Overcharge Customers (1:44)
It shouldn’t be illegal for businesses to give their customers a better deal.
   Sacramento's Sign Police vs. The First Amendment and Got Muscle Health Club (2:11)
The City of Sacramento bans businesses from using sandwich boards, banners and other portable signs and is now enforcing its ban against the owners of a small independent gym, Carl and Elizabeth Fears.

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