(ANTIMEDIA) Government intrusion into the lives of private citizens knows no bounds. Reports of citizens living off the grid, camping on their own land, and collecting rainwater, for example, have pushed local and state governments to write, rewrite and re-interpret laws to punish those who have sought to diminish dependence on the existing social hierarchy and seize control of their own lives.
Yet another example comes from the city of Fairfield, Alabama, where local activist Mercutio Southall Sr. — whom readers might remember as the first in a long line of people of color none too gently escorted from Trump rallies across the nation — stepped out onto the streets of Fairfield to visit family and noticed garbage was piling up. House after house had rotting piles of garbage possibly infested with rats, roaches, ants, and maggots in residential neighborhoods throughout the city.
Fairfield has recently endured financial woes and halted trash pickup for some residents until they pay back fees that were never officially billed to them — some stretching back 15 years. As a result, garbage has begun piling up in front of houses of residents who are either unable or unwilling to pay a shakedown fee to the city of Fairfield for removing it.
That’s when Southall, a Black Lives Matter activist, stepped in with volunteers and a box truck to remove the garbage infesting the neighborhood and haul it off to the city dump.
Not so fast. Fairfield Police showed up to enforce the city’s apparent intent to keep the trash there as it rotted, creating a nasty health hazard for the community those police swore to protect and serve. The police claimed the volunteers were creating a “health hazard” by moving the rotten garbage, which had begun to fester into a putrid liquid — a development catalyzed by a particularly rainy Alabama summer that drenched the garbage almost daily. Police and a representative from the sanitation department said Southall needed a license to remove the trash.
But as Southall observed, “It’s a health code issue to leave it there. This makes no sense.”
Because the patrolman was acting aggressively, Mercutio went against his better judgement and gave the officer his ID based on the recommendation of his attorney. “I’m not about to stand by and allow Mercutio to become a hashtag…we can give the ID away and get another one later,” Richard Rice, attorney for Mercutio, told Anti-Media.
“This officer was escalating the situation by his tone of voice, by his hand gestures, he was violating Mercutio’s space and was very close to his face and being very erratic. I told [the officer] to calm down because we were doing community service,” Rice, who was present at the incident, explained. “If we’re doing something illegal, which I don’t think we were, simply tell us that and we can deal with it in a reasonable and respectful manner.”
Despite police claims to the contrary, Mercutio and Mr. Rice were cleaning up the “health hazard” plaguing the neighborhood — not causing it. Unfortunately, many uniformed employees of the State have pledged their allegiance to the financial interests of a few — in this case, the city of Fairfield — rather than the greater good for all.
As we approach the selection of a new president this year, it is important to reflect on the role government now plays in the lives of American citizens. Evidently, more and more of us can add taking care of our own trash to the list of things we can no longer do without the government insisting we need a rule, a law, or other consequences from their steady watch — ever with their hands on their holstered guns. Apparently, we can only wait with dread to see what overreach our local, state, and federal governments imposes on its citizens next.
Hear Mercutio tell his side of the story for yourself below:
This article (Cops Force Activist to Stop Cleaning Up Neighborhood Trash Left To Rot by City) by Shannon Madden is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author and theAntiMedia.org. Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, email firstname.lastname@example.org.