Forfeiture Reform

If you don’t already follow/support Americans for Forfeiture Reform, you should. Our asset forfeiture systems in this country are a total disgrace, full of corruption, and essentially a “legalized” system of highway robbery, allowing government entities to take cash and property and use it themselves, often with no evidence of criminal activity.

Grasping at Straws gives an update on the Camp Zoe situation…

The federal government has finally brought charges against Jimmy Tebeau, the musician who owns Camp Zoe, which the government is currently attempting to take through civil forfeiture. The case looks like thin gruel. Saint Louis’ River Front Times reports:

The 44-year-old Cape Girardeau resident faces a single felony count of “operating premises for the facilitation of illegal drug use,” according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

On its face, that appears to be a highly unusual charge for a land owner/music promoter. It neither alleges that Tebeau himself sold illegal drugs nor used them personally — and appears to discount the festivals’ music and entertainment value almost entirely. [...]

That is completely absurd. Tebeau is a musician who bought that land to use as his primary venue. He played scores of shows at Camp Zoe and hosted dozens more with musical acts ranging from George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic to Los Lobos, the Roots, and the Marshall Tucker Band. During the summer it was one of the larger venues for live music in the state of Missouri. Like any music venue with thousands of attendees, drug use occurred there, but to say that Tebeau held all these events purely to allow drugs use to take place is an extraordinary claim. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and considering that the U.S. attorney is not charging Tebeau with the possession or sale of any drugs, I doubt the government has it.

Instead, I think the government may be using this charge to force Tebeau to acquiesce in the fight to keep Camp Zoe.

Fortunately, in many areas, people are starting to wake up to the atrocities of forfeiture abuse, particularly when corruption in the spending of the proceeds comes to light. But we need even more attention in this area.

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