Friday, August 26, 2011

Police Shut Down 12-Year-Old's Tea Stand...

Well it's not exactly lemonade but it'll do. Christopher Carr's twelve-year-old stepson had set up a smoothie and green-tea stand near their house when they moved back to the States after the earthquake in Japan. After they'd set up shop, Christopher took his daughter back inside to get some lunch, leaving his son to manage things at the stand.

After my daughter finished eating and as we approached the end of our street where the drink stand was, I could see from afar that the sign was pulled up and put away, the cooler was shut with everything which we had so carefully arranged on the tray table put away, and my stepson was huddled up and sitting on the rail, staring out between his knees at the ocean.

"What happened?" I asked when I got down there. I wondered if he had gotten discouraged that no one was buying his drinks or maybe that no one could understand his accent. Or maybe he was just lonely down there by himself.

"The police told me to pack up and go home," he said. Or, more accurately I discovered after making a few phone calls, the town police swung by and wished him good luck, and then afterwards, "someone in brown" came by and made my stepson stop selling drinks at the end of our street, because this required a permit, and my stepson did not have a permit to sell drinks.

After hearing a little more from my stepson and talking to the town police, I discovered that it was the Massachusetts State Police that broke up our lemonade stand. After attempting several times to contact the State Police, I reached only answering machines. Apparently, having someone on call on weekends is not in the Massachusetts State Police's budget (but breaking up lemonade stands is somehow cost-effective).

This may be the first case of state police shutting down a kid's green-tea stand, but the list of lemonade stands being closed down by various government agencies is long and growing.

Lemonade stand shutdowns may not be the same violation of liberty that no-knock botched SWAT raids or the incarceration of innocent people are, but they reflect the same mentality. It's the mentality that needs reforming. No simple task.

For a list of lemonade shutdowns go here.

Why TV's 'Parks and Recreation' should tackle the lemonade shutdown issue.

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A number of commenters have noted that the Massachusetts State Police do not wear brown uniforms. I am trying to get clarification on this point from the blogger whose post I link to. It is possible that this was some other state agency or a plain-clothes policeman. Obviously there was some confusion around the events, so it's hard to say for sure. I don't doubt the facts of this case, however. Much more likely there was some miscommunication between either the son and father, or the city police.