Protester Foster ensarled in Title 55 snafu that hits pocketbook

Beth Foster and friends in front of the Knoxville police department during protests. (Photo Beth Foster on Facebook)

Liberal activist Beth Foster meets a woman in the Knox County jail who is being abused under Tenn. Code Ann. § Title 55. Ms. Foster herself faces abusive use of the driver license and commercial transportation statute by having an arrest for a protest listed as “reckless driving” on her record. That mistake quadruples her insurance rates, and puts her purse in a bind.

I highlight these points in an account she posts on Facebook, which brings other matters into view. The liberal wing of Christianity — despite its theological errors and warfare against a godly social order — is expressed by people such as Ms. Foster who are willing to make personal sacrifice to bring legal and political changes  in terms of her Christian ethic and commitment to God. For her principled self-sacrifice, for her putting her body “on the line,” as it were, I greatly respect and admire Ms. Foster.

Few, if any people, on the conservative (Baptistic) side of Christendom are willing to go as far as she to induce legal and political reform. I part ways with Ms. Foster on abortion, marriage, gay rights, socialism and probably public schools. But several of her views are orthodox and should be supported by Christians on the “other side” of the aisle.

➤ Prisons are ungodlly and prohibited (see Gary North, Victim’s Rights; a Christian reconstructionist)

➤ Cash bail hurts the poor the most and should be reformed

➤ American racism is structural and persistent from the 1865 era, and God orders a free society where no one group is legally favored over another (for support, see The Problem of Racism in Christian America by Joel McDurmon, a reformed writer and Christian reconstructionist).

➤ The state cannot have programs that specifically abuse the poor. In her support, I would offer traffic stop abuse as a primary instrument used by police for intimidation and harassment.

A meeting is set in Chattanooga on Thursday, Oct. 18, at 6:30 p.m. at First Centenary United Methodist church downtown to help create a cash bail fund to free people trapped in the county jail because they are poor.

Here, now, Ms. Foster’s story about jail and clerical error.  — DJT

A clerical snafu under Title 55 brings disaster for ‘drivers’

By Beth Foster

Today, I thought a lot about a lady I met in jail in June.

I was there for 8-9 hours after some of us from the Tennessee Poor People’s Campaign were arrested for having a religious service in Legislative Plaza.

The lady I met in jail was on her second to last “two-day stint,” doing a 30-day sentence on the two days off she had each week from her 12-hour a day, 5-day a week job. She was in jail because she’d been driving without insurance and couldn’t afford the fines and court costs after she was convicted. She told me that night in jail that she couldn’t afford to pay for car insurance and that left her with two choices: drive uninsured and risk the consequences, or not go to work and be unable to care for her children. She chose the first option and she got to serve 30 days in jail for it.

I thought about her as I spent most of the day calling between the Knoxville City Court, the Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security and multiple insurance companies — trying to get the record straightened out after my February protest arrest got reported as reckless driving and caused vehicle insurance rates to quadruple for me and basically make it impossible for me to legally drive.

It was immediately recognized as an “error” when I started making phone calls. Knoxville blamed it on the state. The state blamed it on Knoxville, and when I pushed the lady at DHS about who was to blame, she told me it was my fault. If I didn’t want the state incorrectly reporting me of being guilty of a far more serious crime than the one to which I had entered a guilty plea, I shouldn’t have had a violation at all. And, then as Kenny at DHS told me when I asked for his name — DHS employees are not allowed to give their last names to members of the public who are calling.

And the other five people who were arrested with me in Knoxville for blocking a street in protest of Nazi Matthew Heimbach’s “lecture” at and coddling by the University of Tennessee in February have also learned the state incorrectly recorded their violation as “reckless driving.” Please keep in mind that the only vehicle involved in this protest was the paddy wagon the police locked us in for more than two hours after handcuffing us and before lying to the press and saying there were no arrests during the protest. Which, probably means we’ll spend more time dealing with the consequences of blocking a street for two minutes to protest Heimbach’s white supremacist, misogynistic ideology and UT giving him a comfortable platform from which to spew it, than Heimbach spent dealing with consequences of punching a woman during a protest in Louisville.

Ultimately, the state promises me that my record will be corrected in three to five days. I’ll survive. I have the luxury of being able to work from home. I live in a community and have family who will ensure I am able to get to wherever I need to go until this is fixed. But, I kept thinking about that lady I met in jail.

When I asked the DHS employee if there was any way to expedite the correction process since I was clearly the victim and the state’s error was creating major disruption in my life she said no.

“What am I supposed to do if I can’t get insurance? What am I supposed to do if my choice is between driving uninsured or losing my job because I can’t drive and starving to death because of your mistake? What is the state’s recommendation on that when people find themselves in this situation?”

She hung up on me.

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