This Alabama Town’s Shakedowns Are So Egregious That the Justice Department Is Backing a Suit Against It
The Department of Justice has submitted a letter expressing interest and support in a class-action lawsuit against a small Alabama town that drew national attention for turning to shady police stops and fines to jack up municipal revenue by more than 600 percent in two years.
When we last took note of Brookside, Alabama, a town of 1,500 people north of Birmingham, Police Chief Mike Jones had just stepped down following Birmingham News reports showing he, the mayor, and the police had embarked on a plan to bankroll Brookside by stopping and fining as many travelers as they possibly could. By 2020, half of the city’s $1.2 million revenue was coming entirely from fines and forfeitures, and then that money was being used to pay for the police department’s growth.
Brookside was facing a pack of federal lawsuits from citizens who claimed police were fabricating charges to force people to pay thousands of dollars in fines and seizing their vehicles. In April, the Institute for Justice (IJ) filed a class-action complaint against Brookside, some of its police officers, and the towing company that the police were using to seize people’s cars. IJ is representing plaintiff Brittany Coleman (and three others), who says she was pulled over for following her boyfriend’s car too closely and also cited for marijuana possession, a charge that was dropped later because the police didn’t actually find any marijuana. Nevertheless, they had her car towed, and she had to pay close to $1,000 to get it back.
The lawsuit, in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Alabama, Southern Division, seeks to have the t
Article from Reason.com