Pocatello, ID — There is a saying among law enforcement when they are questioned for writing asinine tickets for non-crimes and arresting well-meaning people who may be in possession of a plant to treat their child — ‘Just doing my job.’ This phrase is uttered countless times a day as police officers write tickets for everything from window tint to license plate lights — as they somehow think it justifies this level of extortion.
The most recent case of extortion for non-crimes is getting a lot of attention in Idaho because police extorted a man who was actually providing a community service.
When it snows in his community, Mitch Fisher is ready to help.
“I take care of the neighbors. They’re all elderly and I like to help them out,” Fisher said.
Fisher’s community service of plowing streets and sidewalks — for free — is so highly regarded that he was featured in a segment on a local news station in December.
“I try to clean my spot and all the neighbors around me so we have a nice area to park and pull in,” Fisher said las month. “Also, hopefully, so no one gets stuck in front of my house.”
But his good deed did not go unnoticed by the revenue collectors. On Wednesday, a Pocatello police officer came prowling and issued Fisher a citation for ‘depositing material on a public right of way.’ Fisher will now be extorted for over $200 for helping the city clean the roadways.
Naturally, according to Local 8 News, Fisher was baffled.
“I tried to talk (the officer) out of it and tell him what I was doing, that I was trying to get it out of the street because (the street) hasn’t been plowed since the beginning of snow season,” he said. “Of course, he was doing his job, wrote the citation and went on his way.”
The law used to extort Fisher was Chapter 9 of Pocatello’s city code which states, “It is unlawful for any person to deposit, place or allow to remain in or upon any public right of way any material or substance injurious to persons or property.”
Obviously depositing trash, debris, or anything else that would obstruct the street is a dangerous practice. However, Fisher was doing the opposite of this as he moved the snow into a pile right next to his curb.
“I didn’t want it in front of (my neighbors’) houses because they can’t park. I don’t care if it’s in front of mine,” Fisher explained of his community service.
Fisher’s ticket received heavy backlash after he posted it on Facebook in the group “You know you grew up in Pocatello when…” However, the administrator took it down after the conversation apparently got too heated.
To highlight how caring of a man he is, Fisher posted to the group yesterday — apologizing for sharing his ticket in it and didn’t mean for it to start any controversy. Within that post, Fisher was praised by his neighbors and community for providing the service and the overwhelming majority of people are on his side.
“Sounds like they should fire a cop with too much time on his hands and use that money to hire a snowplow contractor,” said one neighbor.
“Inept city hacks hate competition. I saw a neighbor with a plow accomplish more in our neighborhood in 1/2 an hour than the city has all year,” said Facebook user Brad.
“The city refuses to clear the street, but punishes a good citizen for doing their jobs for them? Proof that in a police state, it is about collecting revenue. And NOT about protecting public safety,” said Scott.
Also, there is good news to this story as Fisher says he will not back down. “I’ll keep doing what I’m doing. I don’t care about the city,” he said.
According to Local 8, Fisher plans on fighting the ticket. However, even if he loses — he will continue to help.
“If it cost me 206 dollars a year so be it, I’ll have peace of mind knowing it helps them out,” Fisher said in the Facebook group.
It is quite heartening to hear of such resistance to petty tyranny. Unjust laws will remain unjust until they are disobeyed by good people like Fisher. Had brave individuals throughout history not risked imprisonment or worse to challenge tyrannical, racist, and immoral laws, society today, would be much less free.
Thank you, Mitch Fisher, for standing up for what is right.