Willing to go to court to defend his right to have Occupy camp on his land. This is the letter he wrote in response to the email warning him he could be fined $11,460 for having people camp on his land in violation of zoning ordinances that have not been enforced against anyone else . . . its call “selective enforcement”. And he lays out, very eloquently, why it is wrong. Thank you Mr. Vang!
Mr. Tucker, thank you for your information.
I like to express my political view a little here.
My parents and the Hmong people were refugees in our own country, Laos, during the Vietnam War because the Hmong people were recruited by the American CIA to help stopping the then North Vietnamese from going to South Vietnam. I was a child then, but I remember being moved from one village and city to another constantly. One time, my father and other fathers brought us to a deep jungle and built temporary bamboo shelters for the families. The enemies then were the North Vietnamese and Lao Communist soldiers. After the American withdrew from Vietnam and Laos, the Hmong people were persecuted by the new Lao Communist government. The enemies then were our own new government officials. Many Hmong became refugees in the jungles of Laos and thousands, including my mother and younger brothers, became refugees in Thailand. The Thai government was good but kept moving the refugees around. Finally, we came to this great country, where democracy and freedom are promised to every citizen.
I studied hard and worked hard. I became a lawyer and property owners in America. Although the United States of America is the greatest country, as a lawyer I found that there are hundreds of thousands of laws, regulations, and ordinances ranging from private, local, state, to federal government levels that seem to create more restrictions to its citizens than many of the communist countries. Even lawyers, law enforcement, and politicians don’t know all the laws. The court already decided that ignorance to the laws is not a defenses. The City of Madison along has thousands of ordinance. Your New Chapter 28, Zoning ordinance, has 288 pages.
As a private property owner, I used my own money to purchase this land. I pay property taxes to the City of Madison, Madison School, MATC, Dane County, and State of Wisconsin. I also pay the sewage costs. This is a vacant land. This land has no occupants who benefit any services from City of Madison, Madison School, MATC, Dane County, and State of Wisconsin. No body use the sewage system. Yet as I property owner, I pay taxes for services that I do not receive any benefits for this land. Now my government tells me that I cannot even use my private vacant land to temporarily shelter our homeless citizens.
I listened and read the news. These homeless people have been forced out by neighbors, property owners, and their own governments to move from one place to another, just like refugees. We see millions of refugees in other countries, particularly the Syrian refugees now. The Turkish government allows its vacant land to set up refugee camps. The homeless people in Madison and Dane County are refugees by definition. Wherever they set up their tents, their own government threatens to punish them with fines and imprisonment. Around 2005, many Thai land owners were kind and generous and allowed the Hmong refugees (who were being forced out from the closed refugee camps) to camp on their lands. The Thai government threatened to fine and imprisonment any land owners who assist the refugees. Your warning to fine me made me feel personally related to those Thai property owners. I feel that there may be many generous property owners in America and are willing to help the homeless people, but they declined to do so because they are afraid of being fined and imprisoned for being generous.
Professionally, I am the Executive Director of the United Asian Services of Wisconsin, Inc. It has helped refugees all over the world to settle in the Dane County areas, and most of them are now good citizens of the City of Madison. Therefore, refugee is my entire life. I am a proud American citizen now. I have 7 children and they are all American born citizens. I am also a Christian and an ordained minister. God has been good to me, my family, and this country. This country is good in helping other refugees from all over the world and I am proud to be a major part in the Dane County refugee providers.
America sometimes confuses many new refugees from other countries. America is very prosperous. It was built on the principle that every one is God children and this country was the promised land for people who were refugees in their own countries. There are so many vacant private and government buildings and lands. Yet a group of 50-100 people of citizens cannot find a place to setup their tents. Again, wherever they setup their tents, their own government threatens them and the property owners with fines and imprisonment. Something is wrong with this great country. We forgot why the Pilgrims came to America. We celebrate the fire works of 4th of July every year, but we forgot the meanings of why thousands of American colonists died to be free from the government control of the British. When a property owner cannot even offer a vacant land and regularly paying property tax land to help other human brothers and sisters, who are less fortunate than many of us, something is wrong.
As a tax payer, it should not be my one person responsibility to offer help to these homeless people. Our government should do that. What I heard and read so far, it is not the private citizens that have problem with these homeless people. It has been their own government. First, they were forced out by the City of Madison from the E. Washington Avenue. Then they were forced out by the Dane County from the Northport Drive. Now the Dane County will force them out of the Token Creek park. These people and their organizers are hopeless and must find a place by March 17th. They are not even at my God’s given and vacant land yet, and my own government already is warning me of large fines.
These people may have some problems but we all do.
I am not offering a permanent solution for the homeless brothers and sisters in this prosperous country. I am only offering a temporary solution.
Wherever these homeless people try to lay their heads on the ground and tents over their bodies, no body seem to want them to be around. We think that we are clean and without sins of human or God. We don’t want these unclean people to be around us. I think they something is wrong with them. Why are they not normal like other citizens? Why do they follow the rules of homeless shelter in our areas? We seem to ask all the right questions but no right solutions.
Every citizen of this great country is promised by our US Constitution to live with liberty and happiness. Government was meant to be created by the people to preserve and protect the liberty and happiness of all citizens, not just the claimed to be good peoples. Just because the majority has warm homes and are property owners, our government should ignore the fews who are in trouble and not so fortunate?
I feel bad when hearing that many private citizens in our community do not want to receive these homeless people in their nearly neighborhoods. Now I feel worst when my own government is threatening me if I should offer my land to help these people.
I am not trying to be hero. I just want to understand why American citizens are becoming refugees in their own country and our government is using laws and regulations to punish them and those who are helping them.
The zoning laws are created to promote and protect the general safety and well beings of the people. Camping at my land, the E. Washington Ave, Northport Drive, Token Creek park, or any other lands pose the same safety and general well beings concerns. Just because one parcel of land is not zoned for a permitted purpose it does not mean that it is different from other land.
I will meet the leaders of the homeless people today. If it is feasible, I will challenge the City of Madison’s ordinances.
Mr. Tucker, I know that you are compelled by your governmental appointed position to warn me and I truly appreciate you for doing that. Please don’t take my view personal. This issue is not your or my personal problems, but the entire nation’s problems.
I hope we all can find a way to ignore the zoning laws and regulations temporarily to accommodate a temporary stay at my land for these homeless people. You did not enforce these regulations at the E. Washington Ave and Northport Drive. The Dane County did not enforce their zoning laws either. Whether the land is owned by City of Madison, Dane County, or private citizen, your zoning law should be enforced uniformally. Otherwise, it called civil right violations.
Please kindly let me know if the City of Madison will really issue the warned fines and citations on the first day as your stated. If yes, I will need to protect myself and consider asking the court to rule on a declaratory judgment for an injunctive relief ASAP. Please also consult with your City Attorney and the Mayor Office. I need to hear from the City of Madison soon because March 17 is approaching, and I need to act soon also.
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