USA: Police State

Utah woman jailed for selling flowers from her home

by Terrence Aym, BacktoBasics

A day once existed in America when a womanlike Dena Long-Christensen, 44, would have been celebrated, admired for her “can-do” spirit, and held up as a role model for others.

That day is sadly past. Now Long-Christensen—and others like her—are treated by the new America as criminals to be fined and jailed.

Her crime?

Dena Long-Christensen was discovered sellingflowers from her home.

A struggling entrepreneur, Long-Christensen was unceremoniously trundled off to jail over a dispute with authorities who accused her of not having acquired the proper permits to start and operate her small business.

In other words, she didn’t obtain the government’s permission to have her own business—any kind of business—in the first place.

Land of the free

Long-Christensen case is just one of the latest in a long string of cases of attacks on liberty and an oppressive government that is hamstringing people and eliminating choices until a once-free society will be bound within a straitjacket of rules, regulations, laws meant to limit instead of protect, social engineering schemes and a burgeoning, mindless bureaucracy that has become so overbearing that Franz Kafka himself would be shocked.

Over the past decade outrageous episodes of innocent citizens’ encounters with authorities have filled daily newspapers. The 12-year old girl who was handcuffed because of eating a candy bar comes to mind, and so do dozens of other similar cases across the country.

Justice in America is fast vanishing replaced by civil courts that have become adept at interpreting laws in such a way to mutate them to their own advantage. Many of the legal machinations churned out by the people running such state-sponsored entities—such as the notorious “justice courts” in Utah—seem to exist mainly to confiscate, intimidate and generate as much cash as possible through fines and fees.

Real justice and common sense—if any—are side-effects.

Wild, wild injustice

“Unfortunately, the ‘wild, wild West’ is alive and well in justice courts,” Kent Hart admitted to Utah’sKSL-TV. Hart is the executive director of the Utah Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys. He was one of the few the TV station news team could get a comment from as most were afraid of retribution or a political backlash from the authorities.

That’s how bad it’s become as the system of legal justice in the U.S. continues to slowly creep towards the type of justice meted out in the old Soviet Union.

Hart agrees that some cities and counties priorities are to generate revenue rather than concern themselves about defendants’ rights.

“Without checks and balances, we’re going to have abuses,” he told KSL-TV.

There’s something wrong with our country

Dena Long-Christensen knows all about abuses. After being tossed into jail for selling flower baskets she shared a cell with career criminals. One cellmate of hers was charged with aggravated assault.

“Instead of being further in shock, it was like, there’s something wrong with our country,” she told the TV news crew.

“Fighting the city got me put in jail,” Long-Christensen asserted. “We were doing everything we could to comply with what we were told by planning and zoning.”

The small business woman and her husband were careful to conduct their growing business according to the dictates laid out by the West Jordan Planning & Zoning board in Salt Lake City, Utah. The board is another typical, top-heavy government entity designed to inhibit the creation of businesses and then make the ones that do overcome all the bureaucratic hurdles pay a price to stay in business.

In years past it was known as graft and blackmail. Mafia thugs were prosecuted for such behavior. Now such activities have been re-named “government.”

“We were not allowed to sell anything other than what we grew, except for once a month as a garage sale or bazaar,” she said.

How did America, who’s citizens built the country through innovation, risk-taking and starting small businesses, reach the point where the government decides who can and cannot have a business and how what the current rate is for the legal bribe to be “allowed” to start a business?

The bureaucrat who testified against Long-Christensen via an affidavit—the West Jordan business license coordinator Marsha Lancaster—testified she “personally observed the defendant selling hanging baskets out of her home.”

Mafia vigorish

Such government malfeasance would have precluded some giant companies today from ever having existed. Many entrepreneurs decades ago literally started in kitchens and garages—Microsoft, for one and the telecommunications giant of the 1970s and 1980s, MCI.

None needed any government’s permission. Nor did they have to pay a Mafia-style “vigorish” to fend off the bureaucratic parasites.

When asked how it can be that a couple that was only making and selling legal products from their own property call fall into the categories of criminals—and worse, a 44-year old American who committed no serious crime could be locked up with dangerous felons—Hart responded, “The judges have basically unfettered use of the jails,” Hart said. “In other words, nonviolent people are being sent to jail where there are many violent people.”

The astonished investigative reporters from KSL-TV took it upon themselves to go back and dig up all the Salt Lake County Jail records for every individual incarcerated from 2004 through 2010. What they found was deeply disturbing.

Walk a dog, go to jail

They report that although “…the vast majority of defendants who are sent to jail from municipal courts commit drug-related crimes, there are others who do go to jail for business license violations as well as other petty crimes such as jaywalking, lack of a dog license or having tinted windows.”

So the moral of the story is don’t get caught selling flowers while walking an unlicensed dog outside of a cross-walk after stepping out of your vehicle with tinted windows.

If you do, the justice system may well sentence you to life imprisonment.

Hat Tip: Daniel