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Welcome Tenaha, Texas! That'll Be $6,000 Please or We'll Take Your Kids

Driving through the little town of Tenaha, Texas, may cost you a lot more than just gas money. A lawsuit contends that driving the stretch of highway that goes through the city is akin to highway robbery ... by the police!

Howard Witt of Chicago Tribue has the story:

You can drive into this dusty fleck of a town near the Texas-Louisiana border if you're African-American, but you might not be able to drive out of it—at least not with your car, your cash, your jewelry or other valuables.

That's because the police here allegedly have found a way to strip motorists, many of them black, of their property without ever charging them with a crime. Instead they offer out-of-towners a grim choice: voluntarily sign over your belongings to the town, or face felony charges of money laundering or other serious crimes.

More than 140 people reluctantly accepted that deal from June 2006 to June 2008, according to court records. Among them were a black grandmother from Akron, who surrendered $4,000 in cash after Tenaha police pulled her over, and an interracial couple from Houston, who gave up more than $6,000 after police threatened to seize their children and put them into foster care, the court documents show. Neither the grandmother nor the couple were charged with any crime.

Officials in Tenaha, situated along a heavily traveled highway connecting Houston with popular gambling destinations in Louisiana, say they are engaged in a battle against drug trafficking and call the search-and-seizure practice a legitimate use of the state's asset-forfeiture law. That law permits local police agencies to keep drug money and other property used in the commission of a crime and add the proceeds to their budgets.


(Photo: Howard Witt/Chicago Tribune)

There has to be something more to this story. Someone call Brian Ross, or better yet - Geraldo. If they are truly abusing their authority (as cops frequently do these days), they need to be exposed in a big way.
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Let's hear it for the wonderfully corrupting power of the War On Drugs. A few weeks ago on PBS' Independent Lens, there was this story about another Texas town, local law enforcement suspiciously antagonistic toward African Americans, and the War On Drugs. Tulia, Texas.
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what would happen if you "out run" the cops to the next town? Would you still have to forfeit your stuff if you're in the next town? yeah... texas is screwy
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Well, this seems simple enough. They are criminals, and they should each be charged with 140 counts of aggravated robbery or conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery. Is there any grey area here?

You know why the War on Drugs still exists? Simple. The people who profit from it are the people who make the decisions about whether to continue it.
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That's pretty damn unbelievable that something like this is happening. As other people have said, very sickening.
I can't even imagine what was going through those peoples heads as they were having everything stripped away from them from people who are supposed to be protecting them.

I really hope something in done about it..... just... ugh.
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I do wonder why people were travelling with $6,000 in cash; is that common? Regardless, no matter what they were or were not actually doing, this is a sickening abuse of police power. I'd get the FBI and ACLU on this immediately.
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It's probably not drug runners but people who won big at one of Louisiana's many casinos. They should pay taxes on the income, but that's between them and the Gov't -- next april. It is not against the law to carry around large amounts of cash (especially as little as 4 or 6k), but since the widespread use of credit cards, no one does anymore, making those that do seem up to no good.

There is suggestion of racial profiling -- that would make a good sting for a news show.
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Been going on for years, and not just here.

Don't expect anything will change.

"United States of America v. $124,700 in U.S. Currency, 05-3295 (8th Cir. 2006), was a decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit that was handed down on August 18, 2006. Although it is usual for persons, rather than property, to be sued in court, the controversial doctrine of asset forfeiture does allow a piece of property (in this case, $124,700 in cash) to be directly sued by and forfeited to the government, without either just compensation or the owner being convicted of a crime..."$124,700
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The people responsible for this need to die, slowly, painfully and publicly.

Once upon a time it was OK to kill Nazis. It's time to bring that war home and wipe these redneck scum off the face of the earth.
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I used to live in Louisiana. The key being "used to".
I was on the border of Louisiana and Texas, in a town called "Shreveport". Shreveport and the Texas border towns are sickening when it comes to racism and mistreatment of anyone not white. I'm white. I saw too many black people get pushed around. It's still 1860 down there. Texas sucks! Louisiana sucks!
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I would have been like, Go ahead Arrest me, Locked my car, refused to let them search it, and called a lawyer, but then they could still make up any kind of charge against you, if they are doing this, they must have someone higher up backing them, crazy

I live up north so it's OK, Go NH
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There's no smoke without a fire.

Like at Guantanamo Bay, if these people are not criminals why did the police stop them???!!! Why isn't anyone asking that??? What about my rights as a common man to be protected from these criminals? Civil rights bodies have made this country soft and pathetic!

I trust my country, it government and the police. If the cops say its OK, Im fine with that. These criminals got what was coming to them - both that old lady as well as the criminal couple.

Im surprised that no one is outraged about the fact that these people could get away with just giving money and were not put in prison!
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These people are criminals pure and simple. What is odd is that the main police officer involved is also black. I think it has more to do with plain old thievery than it does anything racist. However if the justice will be swifter by making it a profiling case, more the better.

I will say however, that if the person who posted DA Russell's home info (who ironically would not give their own name on the post) is implying that violent vigilante action be taken against Ms. Russell, that person is as bad or worse than she.
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*buddhaflow* wrote "they should each be charged with 140 counts of aggravated robbery or conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery" Don't forget 140 counts of "ARMED" robbery (since they are armed cops) and also, racketeering (RICO)and *XuYu* also wrote ab out "United States of America v. $124,700 in U.S. Currency" I think out of all fairness & to "even the score" a bit, if the police/government are going to sue & or try "property/items" then if people decide to just shoot these pirates/thieves/cops, while defending themselves/property, the government should only be allowed to arrest and try in court....the actual *gun/firearm & or bullets* used to do the shooting and NOT the actual people. After all this as according to the government's own logic of trying items & not people. Right? 1 last somebody please comment about this F&%#ing douche eater #31.Bobby Moore. I would, but as a matter of principle I can't allow his idiotic stupidity to take any more of my time. Help me out people.
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#32.Carol Beach - Actually, when you think about it, our entire country was founded on 1 gigantic "violent vigilante action" against the Brits. This $h!t has been going on for decades. Enough is enough! These rough cops are robbing people at gunpoint! And to make it even worse, WITH the approval of the local government officials!!! I say if the "law" is not going to stop it, not only do people have a right to defend themselves, they have a moral responsibility to do it, by any and every means available. The minute a cop breaks the law and starts robbing people, he is no longer a cop, but a common criminal and should be dealt with accordingly. If any other common citizen went out and started pulling people over and robbing them at gunpoint, that person would get 20yrs in prison, or maybe shot. Why should these "rouge" cops be any different?
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Release pics of all criminal cops (prolly all of em) and city officials.
Release addresses so people can wish them well.....

Have 50 news crews crawl up their ass and folloe=w them where ever they go.....

lets bully the bullies.

public humiliation
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Lock up the corrupt officials and inform the inmate population of who they are. Enjoy that prison shower pigs and as for Ms. Russell.....enjoy that mop handle you'll be introduced to. My book was clear and hell awaits.
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Yeah, I been through that town but didnt speed. Here's how to frustrate these 1850s style corrupt DAs and cops...take a videocam with you have it rollin while you are drivin thru. Don't speed and obey traffic laws. Don't give these corrupt cops an excuse to arrest you. Have a friend go with you. Hide your money somewhere in the car and keep just a few bucks in your purse or pocket. Money is what these guys are after. If you have none they might not bother. Be polite to them if they stop you and don't say anything except your basic info. Never plead guilty. Make them go the trouble of proving it. Which is very hard to do. If you are travelling in groups have one car hang behind and proceed to the next county and report what happened to you. These are just a few steps. I need to mention that none of the Republican politicians in Texas have spoken against what is going on like that across Texas. John Whitmire-Democrat is the only one that has taken action on this. Texas has a lot of little towns that do things like that. Also beware of Rusk County, Nueces County, Duval County, and several counties in West and South Texas, especially along the border. I think this ugly District Attorney Linda Russell is very corrupt and there is clearly a racial element to all of this. After all, this is not far from where they drug that black man James Byrd to death years ago. I wouldn't put anything past these Texas people. It's not civilized anymore.
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Whoever you aren't "God"! I'm sickened by your attitude and its people like you who give Christians a lable of "hypocrit". Yes, they should be punished (I live in Tenaha) and personally know some of these people...they should go to prison for what they have done if they are convicted. But you are NOT judge and jury, and certainly do NOT have a Christian attitude!
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Don't believe a word of this nonsense. Tenaha is actually predominently a black community. The officer accused of these lies is a black (Christian) officer, married to a white woman. And every person who had assets seized was guilty as sin!

Be careful about believing a bunch of lies about other people. One day the media could tarnish your good name in the interest of grabbing headlines!
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The truth should be told. I am from Shelby County, and there was no race, gender, age, or sexual preference that was singled out. ANYBODY was subject to these "police actions." Just to put some people at ease there have been quite a few resignations from some of the "powers at be." There is a new county judge as an example. The state HAS taken action against the town of Tenaha. The community HAS taken action also.
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To set the record straight, this false probable cause, and stealing legal amounts of money (Federal law specifically authorizes people to carry less than $10,000) is happening all over the US.

In 2007, cops stopped me south of Hattiesburg, pretending that maybe possibly perhaps I had failed to move to the left lane when passing their cars, probably stealing from other people with a rental truck. But, before talking to me, the fiend tried to wrench open the back hatch of my mini-van. There is no legal reason for that action. I did not understand until I got to Hattiesburg and talked to my son, who had the same false stop nonsense two hours earlier in Arkansas. (We were both going to his home in VA.)

This last October, I was driving across KY to visit a son in BG, Ohio. I was on cruise control doing 55 in a construction zone. When the speed limit resumed, I dialed my cruise control up to the limit. In a short distance the HP pulled me over, claiming I had been clocked doing 70 in a 55 zone. I told him I had done no such thing. He checked out my d/l and told me again I had been doing 70 in a 55 zone, and I told him again I had done no such thing.

When I got home, I wrote a letter to the KY HP commissioner and told him his cop was a gd liar. I further told him a lot of people know what they are doing, and IT WILL BE STOPPED.

For those silly people who trust the cops, and assume contrary to all evidence that anyone stopped has been doing something wrong, try a brain transplant.

I let out a sigh of relief when I cross the border into Mexico. I am far less afraid of Mexican cops, who want $20, not a car, and in most cases only if you have violated a law.

There is an organization called Oath Keepers, made up in part of active duty law enforcement, who are trying to urge cops to refuse to violate the Constitution. Thus, cops themselves know better than #31, that cops are doing this.
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i love how every single website this story is posted on makes sure the readers know it is african americans that are being robbed. But doesn’t state that the cops ARE AFRICAN AMERICAN!! Come on america STOP WITH PLAYING THE RACE CARD!!! and state all the facts in your journalism!
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