Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Furious About Ferguson? Work to Free Shaneen Allen

Whatever we eventually learn about what happened in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri on August 9, Michael Brown is beyond mortal help. The same is not true of Shaneen Allen, a 27-year-old working mother of two and robbery victim who faces an eleven-year prison term for the supposed offense of carrying a legally licensed firearm. 

Like the late Mr. Brown, Allen – a resident of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania -- is an African-American. She has no criminal record, and her case is untainted by allegations that she had committed a violent crime. 

In planning to take the case to trial this October, Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain is committing what could be construed as a race-specific violation of due process by seeking prison time: As we will shortly see, a white Pennsylvania resident who committed the same “offense” was given a pre-indictment plea deal involving two years of non-supervised probation. McClain’s proposed “deal” for Allen would have included a mandatory three and a half year prison sentence. 

Allen, a medical professional who works two jobs, was victimized by a series of robberies. A concerned relative advised Allen to get a gun to protect herself and her two young children. She purchased a gun, completed a firearms  safety course, and obtained official permission from the State of Pennsylvania to exercise her innate right to self-defense. However, she made the mistake of crossing the Delaware River into a different tax jurisdiction called New Jersey, where the ruling political clique is stingier in granting that supposed privilege, and refuses to recognize firearms licenses that are issued by their counterparts elsewhere in the country. 

After being stopped by a revenue farmer for violating one of New Jersey’s myriad official restrictions on the right to travel, Allen made the tragic mistake of being entirely candid when asked if she had any weapons in her possession. Rather than being handed an extortion note (more commonly called a “traffic ticket”), she was abducted and charged the second-degree felony of “unlawful possession” of the means of self-defense. 

The officer who carried out that abduction told the victim that she was being punished for her honesty. The same admission was made by the judge at her arraignment. Despite the fact that she clearly displayed no criminal intent, DA McClain refused to offer her entry into a diversionary program that would allow her to avoid prison. 

McClain, it should be noted, is no stranger to clemency: He found it in what passes for his heart to allow NFL star Ray Rice, who was also accused of a felony, to enter the diversion program, thereby avoiding prison or even significant professional inconvenience.

Granted, Rice’s alleged offense was nothing as serious as carrying a licensed firearm: He committed the relatively venial infraction of beating a woman into unconsciousness in the elevator of an Atlantic City casino. 


Mercy is a gift reserved for the wealthy and powerful, which means that prison is for single black working mothers trying to protect their families, rather than millionaire celebrity entertainers who beat black women to a bloody pulp. 

This guy qualified for "diversion." Shaneen didn't.

McClain, and his allies in the civilian disarmament lobby, might try to pretend that violating New Jersey’s incomparably wise and inspired firearms laws is an offense of such transcendent magnitude that the guilty simply must spend time in prison, even when those violations are committed by otherwise innocent people from out of state.

Assuming that this is the case, why is Shaneen Allen headed for prison, while her fellow Pennsylvania resident Todd Doering was allowed to go home on probation?

During a visit to New Jersey’s Logan Township in July 2010, Todd and his brother had the misfortune of attracting the attention of a group of plainclothes officers involved in a “Cops in Shops” sting operation at a convenience store. 

The purpose of that operation – other than to give the largely idle police force in that tiny town something to do -- was to harvest revenue by cracking down on underage drinking and violations of the city’s open container ordinance. One of the officers spotted Todd’s brother, who was sitting in the passenger seat, crack open a can of Twisted Tea.

“Without telling us what was happening, one of these guys reached into my car and grabbed my brother,” Todd related to Pro Libertate. “Within a few seconds there were police on both sides of my car. It was like they thought I had murdered somebody.” 

As Shaneen Allen would do later, when the intruders demanded identification from Todd he informed them that he was carrying a licensed handgun – in his case, a Glock model 22.
“The weapon was immediately secured for officer safety,” relates the police report. “Todd Doering was then removed from the vehicle and secure with handcuffs” – that is, he was kidnaped and shackled. His abductors “did note that when securing Todd Doering’s drivers [sic] license from his wallet … a Pennsylvania license to carry firearms.” 

While in handcuffs and awaiting transport to jail, Todd “spontaneously uttered that the magazine for the weapon was in the glove box and that he believed that as long as the weapon and the ammunition were kept separate he could legally carry the gun.”

By volunteering that information, Todd merely allowed his captors to multiply their excuses for imprisoning him: He was charged with both “possession of a handgun without a permit” and “possession of hollow nose bullets” in the separate magazine. 

Todd’s brother was cited for having an “open container of alcohol” and released. A short time later, Todd related to me, the charge against his brother was dismissed “because of a lack of probable cause.” This should have meant the collateral dismissal of Todd’s felony firearms charges. However, by that time he had been blackmailed into accepting a plea agreement – albeit for a deal much better than the one that would later be extended to Shaneen Allen.

In October 2010, the Gloucester County DA offered Todd two years of non-reporting probation and relatively modest fines, including a $25 monthly fee he paid for the privilege of reporting to a probation officer.

It bears repeating that DA McClain wouldn’t so much as entertain the possibility of granting probation to Shaneen Allen.

“For most of 2011, the probation officer would visit me here, and he made it clear it was just a formality,” Todd recounted to me from his home in Landsdale, Pennsylvania. “He finally said, `Look, you don’t belong on probation; this shouldn’t have been done to you.’” In March 2012 Todd was granted early discharge from probation. But he remains unjustly tainted as a convicted felon.

“My attorney and I have filled out all the paperwork to request a pardon, which includes ten letters of endorsement and recommendation,” he explains. “It’s been sitting on Governor Christie’s desk.”

Currently working as a welder and recently married, Todd’s employment circumstances are stable. This is fortunate, given that his felony conviction – although patently unjust – would make it exceptionally difficult to find another good job, even if the ravaged economy were producing them. Until and unless he receives a pardon, Todd cannot legally own firearms, either for recreation or self-defense.

“My family spent a lot of time outdoors when I was growing up, and now I can’t even own a shotgun,” he laments. “I’m not permitted to buy any kind of firearm, or be in possession of one – despite the fact that I followed all of the rules and never did anything to harm anybody else.”

Todd is commendably outraged over the treatment inflicted on Shaneen Allen, and concerned about the prospect of her going to prison – leaving her kids without their mother.

“I’ve been trying to contact her attorney, and tell him about my case, which has to be considered a precedent,” Todd explained to me. “My attorney advised me not to go to the media, but what is being done to that poor lady is unconscionable. I’m trying to undo the damage that was done to me, but at least I’m not spending years in prison. They want to take this woman away from her children for doing something that no reasonable person would consider a crime.” 

“When law and morality contradict each other,” wrote Frederic Bastiat, “the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law.” Shaneen Allen has never broken the law in any sense; the edict that she ignorantly violated has no moral validity. Her case offers infuriating, albeit redundant, proof of the maxim that the only thing governments “make” are criminals out of innocent people, and corpses out of living human beings. 

Since the eruption of Ferguson, Missouri, it has become commonplace for people to say that the revelation of the contemporary police state in all its malignant glory has wrought a measure of redemption out of the violent death of Michael Brown. While not minimizing in any way the necessity of learning why Brown was killed, those who are consumed with a laudable zeal for justice should direct at least some of their energy into the effort to prevent the unwarranted imprisonment of Shaneen Allen. 

 A legal defense fund has been established on behalf of Shaneen Allen. 

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Dum spiro, pugno!


Anonymous said...

Just wondering if Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson have weighed in on this...

Lemuel Gulliver said...

Mr. Grigg,

Not being a Constitutional lawyer, I may be asking a stupid question here, but isn't there a clause in the Constitution about States recognizing each other's laws? E.g., if you are legally married in any state, every other state is constitutionally obliged to recognize the validity of that marriage. Why then is the license to legally own and/or carry a firearm in one state not recognized by the neighboring state(s)? Can you give an answer to this? If it is a valid argument, this particular case might be a good one to carry forward to the Supreme Court. I'm sure the NRA would provide all the pro bono legal help needed for that. Please let us know?

- LG

William N. Grigg said...

L.G., I'm not a lawyer, constitutional or otherwise, but the if the Full Faith & Credit Clause requires reciprocity in recognizing same-sex marriages, it should apply to carry licenses as well.

Lemuel Gulliver said...

Mr. Grigg,

So, would you call the NRA legal people and ask them about this case? They have vast financial resources and legions of lawyers. You are far more well-known than I. Unless you have an antipathy to the NRA. (I do - I think they are often extremist in their positions, but that would not stop me from using them when it is convenient.) And I can see where advocating for a photogenic black woman, a nurse with a delightful family would be a great PR bonus for them, since they have an image of white-right-wing extremism. (Everything in this world is politics.) Can you do it?

- LG

Anonymous said...

Where are all the leftists who are going ballistic about Ferguson? By the way, the Ferguson stuff does show how insane the police have become, but as more info comes out it is starting to look like a much worse case than the Bundy stuff to demonstrate police going overboard. The people in Nevada also stayed defensive and did not burn down and loot private property on a daily basis to protest.

Lemuel Gulliver said...

Anonymous @ 9:04 PM,
Please go back to Mr. Grigg's last story abour Ferguson, and see what I wrote there - the last comments at the bottom - about the criminality of blacks. I would be happy to get your comments, positive or negative. It's an often-raised and very important subject, that needs much more free and open dialogue. Thanks.
- LG

Keith said...


Obviously I'm not in the place where the "land of the free" claimed to have once been.

but FWIW, Larry Pratt of GOA might be a more effective advocate.

Anonymous said...

Sorry but it is not about race. If it were the white guy Brian Aitkin who was arrested for pretty much the same thing would have got a pass instead of looking at years in prison. Christie pardoned him and should pardon Shaneen. Also, she was not given the chance to have pre trial intervention from the judge who gave it to Ray Rice.

Anonymous said...

GOA has already mentioned this case on their popular Facebook page.


William N. Grigg said...

The disparity in treatment between Shaneen Allen and Todd Doering may have nothing to do with race. If I were her defense attorney, however, I would get in McClain's teeth about this issue, and scream about it in the press.

Anonymous said...

Put your money where your mouth is people, help this young lady out.

Mr. Grigg thank you for this blog.

Anonymous said...

It will indeed require some screaming. The media likely will not touch this one because it would appear that they were supporting firearms ownership.

Robert Fowler said...

They want to take this woman away from her children for doing something that no reasonable person would consider a crime.”

There seems to be no such thing as a "reasonable" politician in New Jersey.

Anyone reading this that is a NRA member, don't wait for some attorney, write them yourself. They have a contact form on their web site.

K said...

There is only one way to stop this sort of behavior - the behavior of prosecuting people for exercising their Rights.

Good Men must stop standing aside, doing nothing.


TAS said...

It's really disgusting how so many libertarians give a free pass to black thugs. I believe in libertarianism, but I also recognize that libertarianism cannot exist in all societies.

If libertarianism was implemented in Ferguson, Detroit, DC, New Orleans, New York, or Los Angeles, the result would be the equivalent to a Third Congo War.

You can have diversity or freedom, but not both.

William N. Grigg said...

It must first be pointed out that there is no evidence at all that Shaneen Allen is a thug by any definition, unless we are to assume that her ethnicity is evidence of incipient thuggery.

The libertarians in whose company I am comfortable don't give a "free pass" to thugs of any color or description, but we recognize that the thugs who are of greatest concern to us are those who claim a license to commit aggression. That category includes, but is not limited to, the police.

Libertarianism is a rejection of aggressive violence by anybody, which is why it is the only morally defensible social model. If the non-aggression principle were followed in Ferguson and the other cities you list, predatory violence by both private thugs and the state-licensed variety, would be rejected and resisted.

Diversity doesn't detract from that principle; it validates it: The ongoing breakup of the unitary state, and localized race-conscious entitlement systems (Detroit offers a good example) could lead to a wide variety of local political arrangements, which I think would be a good thing, in the long term.

Anonymous said...

If we limit our information to the lamestream, then the only message which we get is of chaos, looting and violence.

If we look a little further afield for our information, we discover local residents and protestors, of all hues and shades, some displaying gang tattoos, protecting local property and businesses from the few who would loot them, and despite being armed for the worst, they are using peaceful reasoning and persuasion, eg "you're better than this, you're no thief".

This is exactly the behaviour which statists (including mini statists) insist could never happen - that private defense agencies arise spontaneously on the market, AND that they provide free protection to the poorest and most in need.

It is happening there in Ferguson,

all the while the cops sit on their over upholstered behinds - not just liberty but the beautiful spontaneous order of anarchy is happening http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/16/ferguson-protesters-guard-stores_n_5684042.html


As for the argument that some people are so lowly that they need the state

I refer you to the "If men were angels" argument:

"If men were angels - government would be un-necessary, but as it would be composed of angels, it would also be harmless.

but men are not angels, they are vile creatures, therefore any government composed of men would also be vile"

now have a look at how vile, with Officer Fu*k You, as exhibit A: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-08-20/ferguson-cop-points-gun-protesters-and-press-screams-i-will-fing-kill-you-has-been-r

As to why the lamestream might be omitting from mentioning the volountary efforts to protect property, this little piece of fiction from the film V from Vendetta might give some indications: http://youtu.be/tHsa31hjsog


Anonymous said...

An amusing coincidence, in the fist chapter of Tom Sharpe's novel "Indecent Exposure", pompous apartheid era police chief Komandant van Heerden, is being flown around town, to give "Heroes Day" speeches to various gatherings of Afrikaans and English speakers, seperate of course because their respective heroes are from the genocidal Boer War.

The Komandant used exactly the same tried and tested speech that he had for the previous dozen or so years, telling of the rape of white nuns in the Congo...

In the interest of harmonious community relations, the black population were not permitted to celebrate "heroes day" and anyway, as Sharpe adds bitterly, in the eyes of the other communities, the blacks (he uses the derogatory "k" word) didn't have any heroes worth celebrating.

The Congo wars, like all other wars, are not a phenomenon of colour or of race, they're a phenomenon of statism, and control of the special privilege of legal coercion and theft.


Leon Haller said...

It's very sad that an otherwise laudable article about a clear miscarriage of justice, albeit of a type that happens everyday in this leftist country, has to taint itself with reference to the clearly justifiable actions of police officer and attack victim Darren Wilson in lawfully defending himself against violent black thug Michael Brown of Ferguson, MO.

No, none of us real Americans are outraged about what happened to criminal Michael Brown. But many of us are outraged about the legal railroading of Darren Wilson, which is surely as outrageous in its way as what is happening to Shaneen Allen. Christie is a RINO creep, so of course he doesn't use his pardon capacity to end this woman's suffering (he does find time to fight to inflict more Mexican criminals on us, however - ie, for immigration "reform" aka Amnesty).

The problem, however, is not with law enforcement, or even prosecutors, but with leftist laws themselves, esp ones which violate the higher (supercessionary) law of the Constitution. Now the irony here is that such laws are mostly the work of Democrats, and black women like Shaneen just voted - are you ready? - 98% to reelect the most anti-Constitutional President in history.

Moral? We need to return to conservatism to restore America. And the only hope of that lay with the Tea Party taking over the crony capitalist GOP. Maybe minorities will one day understand this.

William N. Grigg said...

Demurring, at present, regarding a number of other disagreements, I must take issue with the characterization of Obama as "the most anti-Constitutional President in history." While his reign has been uniformly abominable, he still comes in second behind Abraham the Destroyer, albeit by an ever-narrowing margin.

Leon Haller said...

Under libertarianism, contra the utopians, the same problems of lawful whites - whether private citizens, private security guards, or private militias/vigilantes - killing black thugs, followed by black racial nationalist protests, which in turn degenerate into looting sprees, would still occur.

While I agree with Grigg that a return to the Constitution across all areas of life would dramatically reduce social tensions, as well as increase economic prosperity, the basic issue of Ferguson would not go away. Blacks are a violent race, as proven by their collective behavior everywhere in the world, even in places like Continental Europe where the mouldy oldie about "historical racism" and its alleged "legacies" simply is not applicable (not that I believe it is actually applicable anywhere, including South Africa, a country utterly ruined by the removal of civilized white rule - as we on the White Nationalist Right predicted). Wherever there are large concentrations of blacks, there will be disproportionate violence. Why this is the case is a fascinating scientific question, but from the perspective of ordinary, lawful whites, it's mostly irrelevant. We just want to be able to live our lives free of violent predation, not just its occasional reality, but its omnipresent possibility, which creates climates of fear and their attendant daily living adjustments that we whites deeply resent.

Many whites thought that gradually blacks would integrate themselves into American life, and behave more or less as other groups. But this has not happened; increasingly looks like it never will; and meanwhile, a lot of us are fed up with ALL OF IT - the whole "race thing". After all, WE WHITES DO NOT NEED THESE PEOPLE - THEY NEED US, LITERALLY TO EAT FOOD. One would not be remiss in expecting a little community gratitude for all the wealth we whites have transferred, and all the patience we have exhibited. Instead, more criminality, and whining when white police simply enforce laws which protect lawful persons of all backgrounds.

Enough. The commenter above was spot on: liberty is Western (as Mises pointed out). There is not a shred of evidence that liberty as understood in America can be sustained by large numbers of nonwhites. Diversity is the enemy of liberty, of civilization per se, of Western civilization, and of America. What we white Americans need is resegregation, followed by racial secession and national sovereignty.

And what a delicious irony that would pose for the likes of WN Grigg! OTOH, a racial apartheid or at least Whites-in-authoritarian-control country, which however would domestically be highly libertarian (apart from race and crime) and capitalist (but with no open borders nonsense). OTOH, an alternative leftist America, extremely diverse and racially progressive, but with the domestic politics of Obama and Pelosi. Where would Grigg belong?

You might want to think about it, because that is the future of America, at least politically, if not necessarily geographically. The US has survived this long because of the political acquiescence of the white man in the face of constant racial and economic depredations. But a lot of us are fed up, and our numbers will only grow. What do you think the Tea Party is really about - economics and liberty alone, or anger at Middle American economic and cultural and racial dispossession?

William N. Grigg said...

Blacks are a violent race, as proven by their collective behavior everywhere in the world

Humans are a violent race, and the track record of "civilizing" violence carried out by European governments makes for sobering study. I have no brief for "Big Man" leaders in post-colonial Africa, but the antics of King Leopold and his ilk demonstrate that a capacity for barbarism is not a function of melanin content.

There is not a shred of evidence that liberty as understood in America can be sustained by large numbers of nonwhites.

An honest appraisal of contemporary American culture would lead one to conclude that there's little evidence that liberty of that kind can be sustained by whites, either.

What we white Americans need is resegregation, followed by racial secession and national sovereignty.

I have unalloyed enthusiasm for voluntary secession on any basis, and voluntary association (including segregation) for any non-violent purpose. That's one reason, among others, why I don't think in terms of "national" sovereignty: I don't see any reason why the USA must retain its current geographical configuration, as opposed to dissolving into several smaller polities based on shared affinities of various kinds (including ethnicity, perhaps).

Anonymous said...

Agreed! No one will ever be able to top Lincoln simply for the fact of how permanently he changed the relationship of the federal govt to the states and the people while supposedly ending the secession question with war crimes and violence.

Anonymous said...

Leon, are you proposing state sanctioned mandates for segregation? Even though the black crime rate is astronomical compared to whites, don't you believe that the government forcing behavior based upon race is just as wrong whether it is affirmative action, the civil rights act, section 8 housing, college admissions favoring non Asian minorities, etc?

Personally, I view the state mandating that private businesses serve everyone as just as morally wrong as not allowing races into areas based upon government decree. Both are violations of Rothbard's NAP, and both are essentially violence by the state.

People tend to naturally segregate in neighborhoods, among friends, or church, so why not just allow it to happen naturally? I tend to agree with Mr Grigg that we will see secession and multiple smaller states, and they may even be race based. Why use govt force to mandate what races can go where? Why not just allow the market and people to decide? With racial tensions and the welfare state the way it is, we are headed onto a course of the Bosnian war within a few decades at the most anyway. I would much prefer the split to take place without violence when the economy collapses, welfare programs have no money, and all hell breaks loose.

Anonymous said...

And for the record, race based segregation would prevent people like Thomas sowell, Walter Williams, and will grigg from being residents! Do you really want to live in a place where they aren't legally allowed to visit?

The ultimate solution is located in Hoppe's Democracy book. Abolish the state, and let the people decide.

Anonymous said...

How many republican types who take issue with obama's constitutional violations view Lincoln as a great president? Do you think Lincoln was a good president? Or what about George w bush?

Anonymous said...

Left vs right, black vs white, christian vs moslem, mormon vs southern baptist,

Ford or Chevy?

Oh, and spare me the "no true Scotsman" fallacies.

Welcome to all the ways in which politicians separate us into groups and offer one special privilege at the expense of the other and frighten it with the supposed threat of the other.

It's called divide and rule. Get over it!

There's an interesting difference.

Though I despise both, statism is much more threatening than racism.

A racist can potentially follow the NAP and though he may not wish to live beside me or have any direct dealings with me, as long as he neither picks my pocket nor breaks my legs, he's welcome to live according to his beliefs.

A statist, however, seeks to have me beholden to his idolatrous religion and to face summary execution for dis obeying any of the myriad of paragraphs of obsessive compulsive disorder, typed onto pieces of paper, filling tens of yards of shelf space, totally impossible for any single person to be acquainted with. He also expects to pick my pocket (also under threat of death) for endless special interests, supposedly decided upon by the "community".

Yes statism, nationalism, worship of piece of paper and democracy are all amongst the dangerous forms of communism.

Absent statolatry, even communism ceases to be a threat: who ever felt threatened by Amish or Mennonites? absolutely no one.


Anonymous said...

Who would be my favourite president?

when you finally elect "non of the above", stick with him, he'll be the best one you'll ever get.


Jack O'Brien said...

Excellent post, as always, Mr. Grigg.

TAS said...

"It must first be pointed out that there is no evidence at all that Shaneen Allen is a thug by any definition, unless we are to assume that her ethnicity is evidence of incipient thuggery."

I completely agree. She is collateral damage in the liberal/neo-con (or do I repeat myself) war on guns.

"The libertarians in whose company I am comfortable don't give a "free pass" to thugs of any color or description, but we recognize that the thugs who are of greatest concern to us are those who claim a license to commit aggression. That category includes, but is not limited to, the police."

Right. But let's be honest, if Michael Brown has tried to steal the gun of the shopkeeper whom he robbed, most "libertarians" would be using the Ferguson incident as evidence as to why the right to bear arms is an essential human right. Instead, he tried to take a police officer's firearm and now he is a martyr.

"Libertarianism is a rejection of aggressive violence by anybody, which is why it is the only morally defensible social model. If the non-aggression principle were followed in Ferguson and the other cities you list, predatory violence by both private thugs and the state-licensed variety, would be rejected and resisted."

I am well aware of that. But the fact is, modern "libertarians," unlike those from, say, the early-to-mid 1990s seem to think that anyone who is shot by the police is a modern day saint. The fact is, even a libertarian night watchman state will require some sort of police force.

Also, the fact is, black thugs will never agree to the anti-aggression principle. And why should they? The liberal media, Marxist professors, "civil rights" activists, communist/anarchist agitators, and the Attorney-General of the United States agree that because a cop sent a thug to Hell, they have every right to loot and burn their city.

"Diversity doesn't detract from that principle; it validates it: The ongoing breakup of the unitary state, and localized race-conscious entitlement systems (Detroit offers a good example) could lead to a wide variety of local political arrangements, which I think would be a good thing, in the long term."

Diversity and freedom cannot coincide. The only country where they do is Switzerland, which has little in common with most other diverse countries in the world.

Detroit offers a bad example of the wonders of diversity. It offers a good example of what happens when the founding peoples of a land are displaced from it.

Anonymous said...

TAS, Switzerland doesn't even really count bc the non-Swiss are unable to vote. They can work, but they can't vote. Murray Rothbard wrote about this approvingly and offered it up as a solution here to mass immigration destroying our liberty.

Keith said...

Switzerland, although it is now a federation rather than a confederacy, remains amazingly peaceful, despite having four major language groups, speaking the Swiss dialects of German, Italian, French and Romanche (a dialect of Latin), It also peacfully contains both Roman catholic and protestant faiths including Calvinists (Calvin having settled for a while in Geneva).

Throughout Europe, wars have been fought for centuries on end, based on nation states and principalities identifying through those language groups and faiths, all the while, those same languages and faiths lived peacefully side by side in the county sized areas which comprised the Swiss confederation.

That's not to say that they were all best friends or implicitly trusted each other - but they trusted each other sufficiently not to give way to divide and rule.

Julie said...

Hi William - great writing here. Please send me an email when you can! Thanks so much.