The Maneater

Young Americans for Liberty discuss asset forfeiture

YAL will have a forum on the nullification of marijuana laws.

Americans for Forfeiture Reform representative Patrick Nolan spoke at an event sponsored by Young Americans for Liberty on Thursday night. Nolan discussed state and local efforts for federal participation in federal asset forfeiture and how citizens could approach reform.

Civil asset forfeiture is an issue that impacts every college student, Patrick Nolan from Americans for Forfeiture Reform said at a discussion Thursday.

Young Americans for Liberty hosted the asset forfeiture forum. The group's April campaign is the nullification of overreaching federal policies through state and local efforts, Vice President Jim Chappelow said. Thursday’s discussion was a part of that campaign.

Nolan educated those in attendance about asset forfeiture, which became a controversial topic in the city after the Columbia Police Department used forfeiture funds to buy an armored personnel vehicle. In Missouri, civil asset forfeiture funds are designated for the school system.

“It was great to have our guest from Americans for Forfeiture Reform to discuss this because it's the hot local issue as far as withdrawing Columbia support for and participating in federal assestation programs,” Chappelow said.

Nolan explained that civil asset forfeiture is when an officer can essentially seize someone’s money based on suspicion.

“It circumvents the requirement for due process,” Chappelow said. “If you are suspected of being involved in some kind of criminal activity, there has to be a burden of proof to show that you are before any penalties can be exacted, and civil asset forfeiture totally circumvents that.”

This system funds the police department so it encourages policing for profit, Nolan said.

“Cops are people, too,” Nolan said. “They respond to economic incentives.”

For MU students, Nolan said this issue is important because students are a target for forfeiture.

“You are disenfranchised from the political process,” said Eapen Thampy, executive director of Americans for Forfeiture Reform.

While students are not represented well in local politics, they get the brunt of the policies, Thampy said.

“The net result is that civil asset forfeiture becomes a backdoor tax levied by the Sheriff of Nottingham,” Nolan said.

Chappelow echoed that idea.

“Law enforcement abuse of this process is the direct ideological heir of the Sheriff of Nottingham, who robbed from ordinary people in order to pay himself and that is what it allows law enforcement to do, robbing from ordinary people in what is usually an unconstitutional and unlawful manner to buy new toys,” Chappelow said.

YAL is an educational institution that does not lobby for specific policies. Next week, it is hosting a forum on the nullification of marijuana laws. Chappelow said the group will have an interactive display in Speakers Circle featuring a chained Lady Liberty, and they will break those chains throughout the day.

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