Y’All Come Again!: Town Accused of “Highway Piracy” in Seizing Property Without Bringing Criminal Charges

TexasThe Town of Tenaha, Texas (population 1000) is accused of rising revenue the old fashioned way: by stealing it. Citizens who have passed through the town have complained that property has been seized by Tenaha police and never returned, even though they were never charged with a crime. Tenaha Mayor George Bowers, 80, is remarkably unapologetic or concerned, noting that the seizures helped them build a new police station and add a second police car for the town: “It’s always helpful to have any kind of income to expand your police force.”

The story is another example of the abuse of asset forfeiture laws by towns and cities looking for more revenue. Critics is called it “highway piracy.”

Tenaha has seized property from at least 140 motorists between 2006 and 2008. Only half were ever charged. People have complained that Tenaha police snatched anything of value from cash to cell phones to jewelry to a pair of sneakers, and even the car itself. Linda Dorman,an elderly lady from Akron, Ohio, says that police took her life savings of $4000. Her lawyer has alleged that most if not all of those stopped in the town were African Americans with out of state plates.

In their lawsuit, they allege that they were told that, if they waived their rights to the property, they would be released and not criminally charged.

The median income for a household in Tenaha is $18,807, and the median income for a family was $22,885.

The ACLU has campaigned against asset forfeiture abuse in past years.

For the full story, click here.

Kudos to Big Fella for passing along this story.

13 thoughts on “Y’All Come Again!: Town Accused of “Highway Piracy” in Seizing Property Without Bringing Criminal Charges”

  1. Black army vet, I am a white army vet and I agree with you. I did farm labor with black men and to a man, they were the best workers around.

    As you know, in the military we all had to do everything together. I have often said that there should be a military draft so that all walks of life would be required to learn to get along together in a barracks and military training atmosphere and then especially so in combat, if that occasion arose.

  2. Texas is really not that bad. You just have these small red neck towns who hate blacks. There are a lot good whites who love blacks like there are a lot of blacks who love whites.

  3. While it was fiction, given that they were in Oklahoma and trying to get to Mexico; it still rang true when Louise said to Thelma:
    “There is no way I’m driving through Texas!”

  4. FFLEO,

    Pretty is skin deep but ugly is to the bone is a truism because it’s true. Everything is bigger in Texas! Especially egos.

    The arrogance of Dallas doesn’t hold a candle to Los Angeles (and LA is PLENTY arrogant). As a culture, I’ve never seen one that values ego, ignorance and outright stupidity like Texas does. It seems to be the state sport next to football. This next statement is as strong as it gets: I’d have rather stayed in Katrina blasted New Orleans than have to deal with the swaggering dumbass pseudo cowboy over compensating half-wits I had to deal with daily in Dallas. It’s not even a contest. That’s the beauty of humor. When you think I’m joking about giving Texas back to Mexico, I’m not joking. Not a drop. Were aliens to come down and scoop it out from border to border, leaving the Gulf to rush in and form a new inland sea, my only question would be “How’s the fishing?”

    Sorry if you’re a Texan. It’s my one prejudice and it’s one that was carefully crafted and willfully adopted after four years of first hand nearly universal negative personal and business experiences in your shit hole state. That doesn’t even factor in the damage Texans and Texas based companies have done to this country. No, my personal final verdict is that Texas sucks. Jesus himself couldn’t convince me otherwise. I don’t care how pretty the women are.

  5. rafflaw & Buddha,

    Texas has some of the prettiest women in the whole U.S. of A.

    ‘Texas Women’ by Hank Williams Jr. is accurate.

  6. Buddha,
    You are right. This type of Texas justice is amazing. As Big Fella suggested, stay out of Texas,period. There is nothing in Texas that would make me go there.

  7. Hey Fella,

    I do not know if a govmint’ train ride is a safe bet or not; something about tracks, rails, and being ‘railroaded’…

    Thanks for the laughs.

  8. Another reason why the Mrs. and I ride Amtrak when passing through Texas, as far as we know the train robberies are under control, or maybe not…

  9. For some reason, I just assumed Tenaha, TX was on the Texas/Mexico border and that a drunk surveyor made an error in his metes and bounds measurements but the mayor knew that the town was really in Mexico and subject to Mexican “law”.

    At first, I laughed at the title, and then I realized that this was not a joke. This is still America, isn’t it?

  10. Tenaha is a miniscule town east of Dallas, just across the TX/LA border, a bit south of Shreveport.

    The asset forfeiture laws have made the practice of using these laws to increase the income of police departments a problem both in large cities as well as small towns like Tenaha.

    The most egregious examples of the perversion of these laws takes place in the poorest towns and cities in the country, those most desperate for money to fund their police departments, but they are also used for making big publicity splashes meant to sew up political support for politicians and law enforcement officials who hold onto power by way of a “tough on crime” persona.

    The only way to stop such outrages is to do away with the asset forfeiture laws and put back in place a system of fines to be adjudicated through court action

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