The Florida Department of Transportation doesn’t like US Currency. Or at least it doesn’t like anyone using it to pay highway tolls.
I‘ve got to hand it to Joel Chandler, the man who decided to videotape his encounters with the toll-booth clerks after being illegally detained for the “crime” of paying his toll with a $100 bill. He single-handedly exposed a corrupt government practice, and then caught the government lying to cover up their illegal program by using access to information requests.
Chandler is not some flighty goofball who was doing something wrong. He is a well-spoken, intelligent man who knew his rights and was willing to defend them against a government acting illegally.
Chandler complained directly to the Florida Department of Transportation, but got nowhere. Not only did they lie and say there was no such program in effect, access to information documents show that they actively tried to cover up the program after news became public of Chandler’s complaints.
"In 87 percent of the times where they bothered to write down what they thought was suspicious about the motorist, it was a racial description," Chandler said in a television interview, "young black male, young black male, young Hispanic male."
The program worked like this. Anyone paying a toll with a $20, $50 or $100 bill would not be allowed to leave until they surrendered personal information.
That’s what I would call “extortion”. And it’s likely how the courts will see it as well, when Chandler’s case makes it to court. While he hasn’t filed a civil suit yet, it’s widely expected that he will in the near future.
Watch this news report from WSTP.com for the full story: