22-Year-Old Black Man Becomes Latest Victim of Civil Asset Seizure

Joseph Rivers, age 22, had a dream to make a rap video in Hollywood, California. He believed in his dream so much that he scrimped and saved to put together the funds to relocate to the nation’s film capitol. His family also supported his dream and made contributions to his cause. Three weeks ago, he boarded a train from Michigan to Hollywood carrying $16,000 of cash in clearly marked bank envelope. This is when trouble began. Agents with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) boarded the train and began randomly questioning passengers.

Eventually, the agents came to Rivers, but he began to be questioned more thoroughly than the others; he was the only black person on the train. Agents then asked to examine the contents of his luggage. He complied and upon finding his cash, they concluded it was guilty money or being used in the commission of a crime. According to Civil Asset Seizure laws, that is all officers need in order to seize homes, autos, bank accounts, and cash from people. No charges ever need to be filed against the person being stripped of their belongings.

At this point, Rivers is being represented by a defense lawyer in Southern California in the hopes of recovering his money noted family friend Ray Lane. Sadly, law enforcement has an incentive to take property from people: a portion of the assets goes back to the department. Attorney General Loretta Lynch used civil asset seizure to pay the salaries of her legal team prior to being nominated as the nation’s top attorney.

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