There are a lot of articles and discussion forum threads on barrel twist rate for AR-15s. So why am I writing one? Well, some of the information on the web is very wrong. Additionally, this closes out comment threads we've had here touching on this topic, EMail exchanges I've had with readers, and personal conversations I've had with shooters and friends about this subject. It's natural to put this down in case anyone else can benefit from the information. Or you may not benefit at [read more]
Exiting my apartment building yesterday, I noticed a pair of armed, SWAT-vest wearing law enforcement agents overseeing a crowd of people moving boxes and furniture. Coming closer, I could see that the agents were U.S. marshals. The people helping with the move were mostly in matching neon T-shirts and there were at least a dozen of them, despite relatively little in the way of things to be moved. It turns out both strange details can be accounted for by one thing: the U.S. Marshals Service’s involvement in Washington, D.C., tenant evictions.
It’s standard practice for U.S. marshals to preside over D.C. evictions, in the same way that sheriff’s deputies might do in other areas. That’s because it falls to U.S. marshals to serve and carry orders of the Superior Court for the District of Columbia, including “Writs of Restitution that are issued for the recovery by eviction of tenants.” The U.S. Marshal for the District of Columbia also sets the rules for the process of physically evicting tentants.
This winds up weird for a number of reasons. First, let’s consider the impact on evicted tenants. Being evicted is tough enough without the public embarrassment and intimidation of having it made into a spectacle complete with rifle-wearing U.S. marshals in SWAT vests and a baseball team’s worth of mandated movers. And the potential for escalation of hostilities, violence, and (should anything get out of hand) criminal penalties are always greater when you throw armed federal agents into the mix. Sure, some sort of security during evictions might be necessary, but in most cases it could probably be handled better by building security staff or community police than people primarily trained for things like federal-prisoner transport and apprehending fugitives.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of D.C. recently filed an official complaint against the U.S. Marshals Service related to the 2015 eviction of Donya Williams and her 12-year-old daughter. Williams alleges she was naked when multiple marshals burst into her room and barely let her dress before shuffling her out. “And I’m sitting there just shaking, just trembling and I’m saying, ‘please just give me a minute to get dressed because I don’t have on anything,” Williams told local ABC affiliate WJLA.
“There is not even a plausible safety justification for that,” ACLU attorney Scott Michelman said. “It’s just humiliating and it’s wrong.”
But hey, the upshot is that the Federal Marshals get an easy day of it, get to wear body armor and be all tacticool, and get to tote rifles like they’re really somebody. Normally you have to be on a SWAT team somewhere and shoot up people and homes for marijuana cigarettes for that kind of rush. And for these guys, they get to see naked girls to boot. From their perspective, what’s not to like?
But not all is well in Shangri La.
… the marshals will call off the whole thing the day before if weather forecasts call for a 50 percent or greater chance of precipitation within the next 24 hours or temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
Requiring so many bodies to show up for moves that may be canceled last minute (and may or may not actually require that much manpower) has lead to some perverse business practices. Rather than being able to rely on regular movers (who may charge per worker provided and have strict penalties for last-minute cancellations) or volunteers from local nonprofits (who could actually benefit from or hold on to leftover possessions but may prefer to do the job with less workers in more time), landlords often contract with companies that specialize in evictions. In turn, these companies keep costs low by relying on a roving cast of day laborers, often recruited outside D.C. homeless shelters, and—according to a recent investigation from the Washington City Paper—often refusing to pay what they initially promise or failing to provide workers with basic amenities like water.
Well, giving the federal government an assignment is the most reliable way to ensure that it gets fucked up. But remember boys and girls, law enforcement is there for our protection and well-being.