Periodically I bring up the state’s obsession with using violence to enforce its decrees. Many people seem to believe fines aren’t examples of state violence but they never stop to think about the reason people pay fines. You pay a fine because of the implicit threat: if you don’t pay the fine you will be kidnapped and held in a cage. Many Americans have been held in cages for incredibly stupid reasons. A stupid reason we can add to the list is not siding a house:
A Burnsville man on his way to work was arrested and thrown in jail without bond, and then subjected to electronic home monitoring.
But it wasn’t for drugs or a DWI or some other major crime.
Burnsville city leaders say Mitch Faber’s dealings with the law all stem from his failure to properly put up siding on his house.
Faber says he had every intention of completing the stucco and decorative rock project on his home but he ran into money troubles when the economy soured. Burnsville leaders say they had no choice to enforce the law.
Here’s how a simple code violation spiraled into a criminal case:
Mitch and his wife Jean say it all began back in 2007 when they received a letter from the city of Burnsville saying, in part, “you must complete the siding of your home.”
“We were in the process of finishing,” Mitch insists. “This wasn’t something that we were trying to avoid doing.”
But in 2009 there were two more warning letters, and in 2010 yet another–this time requiring Faber to appear in court. Burnsville leaders provided 5 Eyewitness News with these 2010 photos of the Fabers’ home as proof there was a problem.
“I was expecting maybe a $700 fine,” Faber said. Instead he was given an ultimatum — finish the siding or go to jail.
After two days locked up, a judge agreed Mitch should be released but required him to submit to electronic home monitoring. In Dakota County, that process requires participants — no matter what their crimes — to blow into a drug and alcohol device every time an alarm goes off.
“They could call me at 2 in the morning and they did,” Faber said.
The state didn’t even get to the part where they threaten to kidnap Mitch unless he paid an extortion fee, they just went straight to the kidnapping part. In essence Mitch is being punished for not having enough money. He began stuccoing his home but didn’t have the money to complete the upgrade. Here’s the thing, it’s Mitch’s home so why the fuck should the state be able to tell him what to do with it? Perhaps he wanted a home that had unfinished stucco siding, then what? Too bad? Finish the siding, do with your home what you do not wish to do, or be held in a cage?
My question is this: where is the victim of this supposed crime and what harm do they claim has been done to them? Without a victim claiming harm there is no ground for punishment in my opinion. In this case the state has demonstrated their willingness to bring violence where no violence previously existed. Nobody was harmed by Mitch’s home not being fully stuccoed yet he was kidnapped.
This is yet another example of the police state we live in.