Eminent Domain: Fines, eviction, and videotape

"The only thing you can't see on these people are their horns," said Mark Halper, Larry Halper's brother, of township officials. "They are evil personified."

The last chapter of Book One of the seven-year odyssey of the Halper family of Piscataway was played out late Thursday evening. Under the threat of a $4,000 per day fine from Superiour Court Judge James Hurley, the Halpers vacated their 75-acre farm peacefully. Videographer and Freestar producer Logan Darrow Clements, a blatant manipulator of this eminent domain tragedy, was hoping for a violent confrontation so he could videotape it for his documentary on the Halpers and eminent domain abuse.

What this fool doesn’t understand is that it is not necessary to manipulate events: i.e, the Lost Liberty Hotel, an attempt to use eminent domain to acquire Justice Souter’s farm in New Hampshire - another Clements production.

Where were the movie cameras when Bruce MacCloud was forceably evicted in November 2002 by armed police in Long Branch, New Jersey? These scenes may be played out in any of the communities where municipalities are strong-arming their constituents to benefit developers. These circumstances speak for themselves and are tragic in their own right. They need not be manipulated to make the point. Attempting to stage or provoke a violent confrontation between police and property owners does not serve the movement against eminent domain abuse. Mr. Clements sought out the Halpers and camped out at their farm for days, waiting for the sheriff’s officers to arrive to implement the court order and remove the Halper family. This didn’t happen and cooler heads prevailed.

“There are eminent domain disputes in which government is clearly the bully. And there are cases in which an obstinate citizen may genuinely be standing in the way of progress. The Halper farm battle falls somewhere in between those extremes, without the clear lines between good and evil that many would like there to be to help us know how to feel.”Opinion - The Courier News – July 25, 2006