By Nathan Barton
In the old days in England, people had to put up with “highwaymen” – armed robbers who would come upon unsuspecting travelers (on foot, horseback, in carts or stages) and order them to “stand and deliver.” Often these were ex-soldiers (or even officers or nobles) on the wrong side of the latest civil war or out of favor in court.
In medieval Europe, you had “robber barons” who had castles that controlled key transportation chokepoints (bottlenecks). Gorges on rivers, fords across rivers, good landings, mountain passes, or even gates in walls. Holding their lands in fief from higher nobles or the local king (or emperor), these nobles would charge “tolls” or “import and export duties.” And often with suitable pretext (wrong religion, wrong loyalties (and gang colors), wrong expression on the travelers’ face) just steal everything the traveler had. Sometimes including their lives.
In the 1870s, there were robbers along the trails connecting the Black Hills of Dakota and Wyoming with the UP Railroad in Nebraska and Wyoming. The robbers are best known for holding up stages, especially those carrying mined gold from the camps in the Black Hills. But they also held up individual travelers, wagon trains, and other groups. There were both white criminals and Amerind raiders. Anything carried was fair game, as was the livestock. The Army, local Sheriffs, and town/city Marshals all worked together to prevent and track down robbers.
This evil tradition continues today – in Wyoming itself. (And other states.)
Yes, though there are still free-lance “private” robbers roaming the highways of Wyoming, the more serious threat calls themselves “law enforcement.”
Let me name names: the Wyoming Highway Patrol. The WHP, whose vehicles are ubiquitous on Wyoming highways. I can describe it as nothing less than a criminal organization. It is often joined by local city and town police and marshals, and by County Sheriffs and their deputies and posses. All criminal organizations.
One more recent example is the ~$92,000 stolen from a Wisconsin musician on his way to Salt Lake City, stopped on I-80 (near Cheyenne) for “improperly wearing” his seatbelt ($25 ticket) and changing lanes too often (warning issued), as reported by the Institute for Justice. The WHP thug did it all legal and like, pressuring (with threats of jail and other mischief) Phil into (1) admitting that he had the cash, (2) letting them (illegally and immorally) search his vehicle and find the money, and (3) signing a conveniently-available pre-printed “waiver” form “admitting” it was not his money and allowing the WHP to take it to use for drug interdiction. An unarmed man facing men in uniform with guns.
An earlier example from way back in 2013 is even more spectacular: $470,000 seized on I-80 (also somewhere near Cheyenne) from Robert Miller of Illinois. That case is winding its way through the court system, as detailed in a story in the Casper Star Tribune.
(I admit that Phil HAS gotten his money back, after a series of legal battles. And the legislature even passed a law which makes these “waiver” forms illegal. But more on that later.)
But the WHP and the other “law enforcement” highwaymen are not alone. They are part of a much larger criminal gang. A gang which members include not just the Highway Patrol, the Sheriffs Offices, the local police, and their organizations (such as the much-vaunted “drug task forces” which litter the state). The gang includes the legal departments of various federal and state and local government agencies, including the Wyoming Attorney General and his office, district attorneys, and more.
Much more: this gang includes elected officials as well. And other departments of state and local government, like treasurers and keepers of property records. Agencies which cooperate with WHP and other police, facilitate their theft, and either keep or sell (fence) the stolen money and goods for them. And those elected officials include the governor of the state, a man named Matt Mead. (Who himself is a former prosecutor – an attorney.) Yes, I can and do accuse these men and women of being criminals, of breaking law (often by interpreting law in evil ways) – of committing acts which are unconstitutional and which prey on innocent men and women. Of violating both manmade laws and constitutions, and moral law.
Matt Mead is no less guilty than the kings and emperors of old, including English sheriffs, who (a) tolerated, and (b) often gave either tacit or explicit approval, for the barons, the highwaymen, to steal money and other things from – and even kill – travelers.
But there are two more types of members of this criminal organization that stops people for petty violations of the law and like the highwaymen and stage robbers of old, and the robber barons.
The first is the elected members of the State of Wyoming’s legislature. Who pass feel-good laws that “reform” the evil practice of civil forfeiture. And refuse to override the vetoes of the elected thug in Cheyenne forbidding the practice.
The second is the voters of Wyoming who voted to put these legislators in office, who put this thug Mead in office, and who put corrupt and evil sheriffs in office. YOU people are as guilty in the eyes of God and man of stealing Phil’s and Miller’s money as the uniformed, armed thug who actually did it. And you will continue to be so until THIS evil of “civil forfeiture” is eliminated once and for all.
(Afternote: Yes, I am sure people will say that the WHP and these other people and organizations do many good things, and that there are some good cops – and some good attorneys. Yes, there were also good Nazis. And good KKKlansmen. For certain definitions of good. They no doubt love their mothers, love their children, and even love dogs and cats. They help people stranded on the highway, they help victims of crimes (crimes that THEY do not commit, at least). But they are still criminals.)
Mama’s Note: A truly terrible thing, even in Wyoming. And yet, people still insist that I must “vote” and actually participate in this criminal system. Not happening… As I told one very dear person, the only things you get to vote on are whether you’d rather be hung, shot or drowned. There is never any actual “choice” for liberty and justice.