Alabama Takeaway (Eminent Domain Abuse in the Yellowhammer State)

Libertarian operative Stephen Gordon reports on eminent domain abuse in Alabama—and a new group that is dedicated to fighting the same:

In Alabama, it is generally the poorest of our citizens who are victimized and intimidated in similar situations to what happened in New London, CT.  Working with state legislators and the Alabama Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, we have reasonable hopes of being able to make a difference in the lives of people touched by corporate and government land grabs.

Right now, we are highlighting on two cases and working on two distinct pieces of legislation.  One issue deals with the highly publicized (many thanks to Neal Boortz and the Institute for Justice on this one) case of a Wal-Mart landgrab in Alabaster, AL:

In 2003, Alabaster, Alabama, a small bustling community south of Birmingham, garnered national attention through their efforts to seize property for the construction of a Wal-Mart shopping center. Ownership of the property was predominately poor and black. When national attention focused on the private property seizure, other avenues of securing the property for Wal-Mart prevailed. The procedure, while legal, would, by those familiar with the circumstances, deem the chain of events and the ensuing aftermath unethical by all standards. In the video Elizabeth Swain, her daughter, and granddaughter tell the story from the beginning to the end.

More, including a link to video, here.

Drew Carey and Reason.tv reported on eminent domain abuse gone wild in National City, California. Watch that below:

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    But, but... these are poor people opposing a corporation! Don't you editors have any sympathy for the hard work our trolls have put into building their strawmen to viciously attack? Why, if this keeps up some of their carefully accrued prejudice and slander might be doubted.

    Just kidding guys... we all know you trolls are incapable of changing your tiny minds.

  • TofuSushi||

    I would be all for this if the government needed the land for Target. But if it is for Wal Mart I am against it.

  • TofuSushi||

    Alabaster, Alabama? Sounds like racist code for whitie in charge.

  • ||

    Don't confuse them, NutraSweet. Reason isn't opposing Walmart, it's only opposing the government that helps it. Don't you get it? I mean, Reason never calls out companies for rent-seeking or anything.

  • ||

    The less reported case deserves more attention. It has the added bonus of Evil Big Government without the Evil Big Corporation, so everyone can stay cozy in their preconceptions.

    Evergreen Baptist Church overlooks I-65 between Birmingham and Gardendale, Alabama. The Church was required to surrender its property through eminent domain for road construction. The Church agreed to a property swap with the State Department of Transportation. The Church at its old location was serviced with water, gas and electricity - all modern conveniences. Before construction began on the new Church building, Rev. Smith contacted the Birmingham Water Works to ensure that water would be available. With the Water Works assurance, construction was begun. When construction reached ¾ completion, it was disclosed that the Birmingham Water Works would require $80,000.00 to install a new water main. The Church, consisting of a small congregation, could not afford the demands of the Water Works. Two years have passed and the inequity in the land swap has not been resolved. The Church pleads for a just and appropriate public outcry.

  • ||

    Well, I guess I'm finally convinced that Wal-Mart is evil after all. Any company that uses the government to steal land for them is part of the problem.

    -jcr

  • mnemo||

    Walmart's consistently used eminent domain and government subsidies over the years. It shouldn't have been too hard to convince any free market advocate of Walmart's evil.

  • ||

    While reading this, I was struck by the curious thought "What if the wider knowledge of these eminent domain abuses contributed to the popping of the real-estate bubble?"

    Consider: With the publication of the New London verdict, real-estate dealers are now concerned with the precarious nature of their holdings, while less honest ones generate income on eminent domain abuse.

    How much do you think this verdict destablized the market?

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement