Local government is supposed to provide you with services. One of the main services, supposedly, is protection from robbery or destruction of property. This includes protection from mob violence. We are told that the government keeps a person safe from the crimes his neighbors might commit against him if they were angry with him for some reason.
But there is evidence that sometimes it works exactly the opposite way. Rather than providing protection from the mob, sometimes the government enables it–and provide the means for facilitating its violence so that it is easier than if they had to do it themselves.
Thus, the Associated Press reports, “Long Island town demolishes veteran’s home while he is out of state recovering from surgery.”
When a U.S. Navy veteran traveled from Long Island to Florida for a knee replacement, his house was the last thing on his mind. But now his memory of it is all he can think about.
Philip Williams’ home was demolished in the spring by town officials while he spent about six months recuperating from surgical complications in Fort Lauderdale. Back in New York, officials in the Town of Hempstead deemed his modest two-story home unfit for habitation and knocked it down.
The 69-year-old has now waged a legal battle against the suburban New York town. He wants reimbursement — for the house and all the belongings inside.
“I’m angry and I’m upset. It’s just wrong on so many levels,” he said. “My mortgage was up to date, my property taxes were up to date … everything was current and fine.”
Williams went to Florida in December 2014 for the procedure, so a friend could help with his recovery. But he developed infections that forced further surgery and heart complications, leaving him hospitalized until doctors deemed him medically able to return home in August.
When Williams pulled up to what should have been a two-story cream-colored cottage with a red door in West Hempstead, there was just an empty lot.
“My first thought was there was a fire or something,” Williams said.
But there was no fire. According to town officials, neighbors had been complaining the house was in disrepair and a blight on the community. Hempstead officials, responding to those complaints, sent inspectors and determined the house was a “dilapidated dwelling” unfit for habitation. So they knocked it down.
Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that everything the neighbors said about this house was true. So what? It was still not their house. And complete destruction of a home is something you expect to hear about in a zone strike, not as a penalty for some kind of zoning violation.
They never contacted him and their “efforts” to do so were rather questionable–like they were just going through the motions to have plausible deniability. Here was a man in a medical emergency and he was punished for being temporarily out of reach.
Would the complaining neighbors have the guts, or be willing to spend the time and effort, to completely destroy the home on their own, and remove all the wreckage (along with all the personal possessions of the homeowner)? I doubt it. The government made it easy. The neighbors didn’t have to pay the demolition team or the clean up crew.
The city made the destruction “free.” All someone had to do was call them.