Feb 17, 2020
A class action lawsuit brought in Wayne County, Michigan has shone a light on just how much property police are seizing—and how much money they’re making from the practice.
The lawsuit states that in the past two years alone, Wayne County has seized over 2,600 cars, and made more than 1.2 million dollars off of those seizures.
These cars are often not seized in the committing of crimes. The two plaintiffs named in the suit, Melisa Ingram and Robert Reeve, both tell similar stories: neither was convicted or even charged with any crime, yet their cars and other property was seized by the county, then ransomed for thousands of dollars.
Ingram had twice lent her car to her then-boyfriend. Both times, he was stopped by Wayne County sheriff’s deputies. Both times, they seized her car. Both times, he was never arrested or charged with a crime. Still, the cops seized her car, and demanded she pay money to get it back. The first time, she paid $1,355. The second time, they demanded $1,800; she couldn’t afford to pay that, and they hold her car to this day.
Reeve had his car seized after the cops claimed that a tool in his possession had been stolen from Home Depot. Again, he was not arrested or charged with a crime—but his car was seized, along with two cell phones and $2,280 in cash. He has yet to get any of that back.
What they don’t ransom back to the rightful owner, the police departments sell at auction, keeping the money for themselves.
Wayne County is not alone; this practice is going on all over the state of Michigan, and all over the country. And it’s just one of the ways that the cops use their power to intimidate working people—and rob us, pocketing the money so that they can do it all over again.