Friday, 18 October 2013

BC Hells Angels Seek Judicial Arbitration with Rival Gang

Brian Hutchinson  reported, last week in the National Post, on a disturbing trend of systematic theft of private property by the state. There seems to be no end to the number of ways of which government employees can conceive to steal property by force, both threatened and enacted.

BC Hells Angels are seeking legal
remedy in a case of civil forfeiture.

Photo by Jason Payne/ Postmedia News

Similar to eminent domain, civil forfeiture is the "legal" process by which the state seizes private property which it deems to have been acquired from the results of unlawful activity, or is likely to be used to engage in unlawful activity. Legislation authorizing civil forfeiture is in place in ten provinces and territories across Canada. At first pass, it doesn't seem like such a terrible concept - that criminals should be made to pay restitution to their victims, in an effort to make them whole again.

Of course, the state does not dispose of seized assets by returning stolen property to its rightful owner, or paying restitution to victims of crime. As reported by the National Post, "most civil forfeiture cases in Canada involve marijuana grow operations and drug transactions". The property seized in the majority of civil forfeiture cases in Canada involve only non-violent "crimes", which being committed, created not a single victim. Doesn't it seem counter-logical that a non-violent, victimless act, deemed esthetically and socially displeasing to legislators, should be met with theft?

British Columbia Provincial Justice Minister Suzanne Anton defends the practice of civil forfeiture, claiming that it reduces the incentive for individuals to commit illegal acts by taking away the proceeds resulting from such acts.

Civil forfeiture fails to deter criminality. Instead it increases the incentive of the state to act in a criminal manner, stealing private property. Seized property is sold off to fund various "crime prevention" bureaucracies, and in the case of British Columbia, proceeds of sold off assets are put right back into the civil forfeiture program. Theft funded by theft.

While the incentive exists for the state to continue to practice civil forfeiture against individuals, the same incentive does not often exist for victims of this legally sanctioned theft, to mount a challenge in court. The cost of challenging a civil forfeiture case is often as much as or greater than the value of the seized property, so victims just walk away. Such is not the case for the Hells Angels, who have challenged the seizure of three of their club houses by the BC government.

Isn't it ironic that the state is attempting to steal from a group which it identifies as a gang, and which it claims operates criminally with the use of violence and theft? Isn't it even more ironic that the de facto criminal gang, in this scenario, the Hells Angels, is challenging the transgressions of the de jure criminal gang, the state, by means of judicial arbitration?

So what should the Hells Angels do if they lose their appeal? There's only one "logical" thing to do in a "civil" society, and that is to seize the proceeds of the crime from the transgressors (the state), to get back what was theirs.

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