Point Pleasant, NJ — We can now add giving away free books as a reason police will show up to your home and threaten you with fines. Earlier this month, that is exactly what happened to a New Jersey family when they built a "Mailbox Library" in their front yard to encourage the neighborhood children to read.
The Hagemeyer family had just finished construction of their new library — which was already being used by children in the neighborhood — when police showed up at their door telling them it needed to be removed.
"We're still shaking our heads over the whole thing," Grace Hagemeyer told Patch.
As Patch reports,
After getting the call and talking to the family, the police initially said there was nothing they can do about it, according to the family, even though thousands of "mailbox libraries" have been popping up all over the country.
Grace said she and her husband, Peter, put one up on their property and had a grand opening on July 29 at their Hardenbergh Avenue home. That same day, they had a visit from police. The next day, they were contacted by code enforcement officers.
The Hagemeyers then were told they had 10 days to take the structure down off their property. The family was initially told that such libraries are not allowed because they're not mentioned in the land-use ordinance.
Officials said the police were sent out because a citizen — apparently infatuated with the police state — called police to report that the library was a nuisance.
"If they get an official complaint, they have to look into it," Point Pleasant Boro Administrator Frank Pannucci Jr. said.
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How, exactly, a structure the size of a mailbox that is designed to encourage children to read, can be a nuisance is a mystery. However, that was the case and the government had to do their job to get rid of it.
"Seriously, does it get any better than that? " Grace told Patch. "Neighborhood kids walking around carrying books, instead of having their noses buried in their phones."
"We live in a great town, on a friendly street," Grace said. "This is the kind of community we should be encouraging."
Luckily, after the story began to shine a negative light on the city, they reacted by telling the family that they could keep the library, but they just had to move it further back on their property.
Officials then claimed that it was too close to the roadway, a reason that the Hagemeyers say was not originally given. Either way, the library does get to remain, so it is a tiny victory for the family despite the fact that they had to move it behind their fence.
As the Free Thought Project has reported, instances of snitch neighbors calling police on people for doing good deeds, or children trying to make a few bucks by selling lemonade, are becoming a common scenario.
It appears that many Americans are becoming obsessed with calling the cops on their fellow citizens for non-crimes. As this case and the many others illustrate, we are beginning to treat Orwell's '1984' as an instruction manual.