- Forbes -
Well it’s not exactly lemonade but it’ll do. Christopher Carr’s twelve-year-old stepson had set up a smoothie and green-tea stand near their house when they moved back to the States after the earthquake in Japan. After they’d set up shop, Christopher took his daughter back inside to get some lunch, leaving his son to manage things at the stand.
After my daughter finished eating and as we approached the end of our street where the drink stand was, I could see from afar that the sign was pulled up and put away, the cooler was shut with everything which we had so carefully arranged on the tray table put away, and my stepson was huddled up and sitting on the rail, staring out between his knees at the ocean.
“What happened?” I asked when I got down there. I wondered if he had gotten discouraged that no one was buying his drinks or maybe that no one could understand his accent. Or maybe he was just lonely down there by himself.
“The police told me to pack up and go home,” he said. Or, more accurately I discovered after making a few phone calls, the town police swung by and wished him good luck, and then afterwards, “someone in brown” came by and made my stepson stop selling drinks at the end of our street, because this required a permit, and my stepson did not have a permit to sell drinks.
After hearing a little more from my stepson and talking to the town police, I discovered that it was the Massachusetts State Police that broke up our lemonade stand. After attempting several times to contact the State Police, I reached only answering machines. Apparently, having someone on call on weekends is not in the Massachusetts State Police’s budget (but breaking up lemonade stands is somehow cost-effective).
This may be the first case of state police shutting down a kid’s green-tea stand, but the list of lemonade stands being closed down by various government agencies is long and growing.
Lemonade stand shutdowns may not be the same violation of liberty that no-knock botched SWAT raids or the incarceration of innocent people are, but they reflect the same mentality. It’s the mentality that needs reforming. No simple task.
For a list of lemonade shutdowns go here.
Why TV’s ‘Parks and Recreation’ should tackle the lemonade shutdown issue.
Updates after the leap…
[Update III - earlier updates below]
So a lot of confusion obviously exists around the events described in Christopher’s blog post. This is understandable, but I don’t think it means we’re any closer to any conclusive answers. From what I can tell, trying to parse out the details, here is what happened: Christopher left the stand briefly while his 12-year-old watched it. When he returned the boy told him police shut it down. He mentioned they had a brown (possibly tan) uniform. When Christopher phoned the local police, they told him this:
My stepson said “brown uniform” and “bike”. When I mentioned this to the Hull, Massachusetts town police switchboard operator or whoever I talked to on the phone, she immediately said something like “Oh, that’s the Staties. They have jurisdiction there.” After that, I Googled “Massachusetts State Police”, searched for “contact” on the main page, and got this page: http://www.mass.gov/?pageID=eopsutilities&L=1&sid=Eeops&U=ContactUsInfo. I clicked on “State Police” on the lower right and got this: http://www.mass.gov/?pageID=eopsutilities&sid=Eeops&U=ContactUsInfo#a16. I called the number in question several times and no one answered.
I don’t know what else to say. I’m not trying to get anyone in trouble, or tarnish the image of one police department over another. I’m just reporting what happened.
So Christopher extrapolated from this they they must be talking about the DCR Rangers (per my update below). It’s possible also that the local switchboard gave him the run-around, or that his son’s description of events were off, or that it was a Ranger on beach patrol over-stepping his authority, or any number of other possibilities.
It does appear that it was not state police, or at least not your typical state police. However, I have no reason to suspect that the events in question did not happen. If someone was going to make up a story about the state police, I’m pretty sure they’d get the uniform right. However, when you’re dealing with kids in a stressful situation, multiple state agencies, etc. there’s bound to be some confusion. The local police definitely told Christopher it was state police, and maybe it was or maybe it was some other state agency in charge of patrolling the beach.
Nobody is trying to paint the cops in a bad light here. Cops and other state agencies across the country really are shutting down lemonade stands and yard sales and so forth. This isn’t an outlandish story by any stretch of the imagination. In these cases, the police are often just doing their job and applying the law – even if it is a bad law, the cops didn’t write it themselves.
If I get any more details I’ll publish them.
P.S. I think it’s also important to note that someone in the government shut down a twelve-year-old kid’s green-tea stand. Whether this was state police, rangers, or the mayor doesn’t really matter. The state is cracking down on kids selling drinks for fun. That’s ridiculous, and I think there are probably plenty of people working in government – cops, politicians, etc. – who would agree that it’s ridiculous.