What should the government do if you bounce a check to it? How about, ask you to send another check, or maybe a bank check?
Or should it shut down your business and destroy your inventory? And shut down your other business and destroy that inventory too?
According to a lawsuit filed this month , after David Kelleran bounced a check he’d sent to renew his liquor license for one of his two adjacent businesses, New York City police and other government employees stormed in with a buildings violation to serve, shut both businesses down, and poured the liquor into the sewer. At the time of the incident, Deputy Inspector Terence Hurson (shown here) said, “This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while — we’ve had noise complaints about the place.”
Now, mistaking two related businesses for one may be a simple mistake—but it should also have been a simple mistake to correct before taking drastic action. But suppose we put that aside.
And suppose we put aside the issue of whether bars should have to be licensed—or whether it’s OK to make that license contingent on paying a large fee. (The bounced check to the liquor authority was for $4,382.)
Suppose we even put aside whether it’s OK for the police to act as judge, jury, and destroyer of property, or to jump at an excuse to make trouble for a business because there've been noise complaints about it.
We’d still be talking about the government coming into a business, just because of a bounced check, and without affording the owner time to correct his mistake, destroying thousands of dollars in inventory. And we’d still be talking about the government doing this even though, according to a letter from the liquor authorities themselves, Kelleran had ten days to make good on the $4,382.
We shouldn't put any of these things aside, though. They're all interrelated, and they all speak to the crazy concoction of unjust laws and abuses of power involved in this case.
It's an injustice cocktail--as if the authorities were trying to mix as many kinds of wrong as they could into a single raid.