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Justice

When people move in and refuse to move out, what do you do?


Squatters' rights laws are some of the most bizarrely misused legal realities we have, and something no one seems to have a good answer for. Most of us have heard stories of someone moving into a vacant home and just living there, without anyone's permission and without paying rent, and somehow this is a legal question mark until the courts sort it out.

According to The National Desk, squatters' rights are a carryover from British property law and were created to ensure that abandoned property could be used and to protect occupants from being kicked out without proper notice. It should go without saying that squatter law isn't meant to allow someone to just take over someone else's property, but sometimes that's exactly what happens.

It's what happend to Flash Shelton's mother when she put her house up for rent after her husband passed away. A woman contacted her with interest in the property, only she wanted to do repairs and look after the home instead of paying rent. Before anyone knew it, she had furniture delivered (which she later said was accidental) and set up camp, despite Shelton's mom not agreeing to the arrangement.


But since the woman had expressed her intention and already moved in, the matter was out of police hands, as Shelton found out when he tried to contact the local sheriff.

“They said, ‘I’m sorry but we can’t enter the house, and it looks like they’re living there, so you need to go through the courts',” he shared in a YouTube video.

Shelton rightfully didn't want the expense of a court battle, so he took matters into his own hands—not with violence, but with logic. He had his mom lease the home to him, and then told the squatter that she had to move everything out because he was moving things in.

“If they can take a house, I can take a house," he said.

He was calm and clear about her having to get everything out within the day or he would have people come and take it, and thankfully, she didn't put up a big fight.

That experience made him realize how squatter law can be abused, but that there's a faster system for removing a squatter than to go through the court system. If a squatter can move in and force a homeowner to take them to court to prove they are living there illegally, then he could simply move in alongside the squatter, putting the squatter in the position of having to take the homeowner to court instead.

"The legal process is so slow, and at some point when they're in there, you're going to feel like they have more rights than you do and that's how you're going to be treated. So even though you it's your house and you're paying the mortgage or whatever, at some point squatters feel like they have more rights than you, so they don't have an incentive to leave until a judge tells them to, until they're actually ordered to, and that could take months."

After successfully removing the squatters in his mother's house, Shelton has been tackling similar squatter situations for other homeowners in California, earning him the nickname "The Squatter Hunter."

"All I'm doing is becoming a squatter and flipping this process on them," Shelton told CBS News. "I figured if they could take a house, I could take a house."

According to CBS, he's successfully removed a dozen squatters in the past year. ""I'm not going in and I'm not hurting anyone," he said. "I'm not kicking them out, I'm not throwing them out." He's literally just moving in himself, setting up cameras, and then creating small annoyances until the squatters get fed up enough to move out.

California isn't the only state that has seen issues with squatters. There are squatter stories from all over the U.S. of people moving into a property and refusing to leave without a court order, tying owners up in lengthy, expensive legal battles.

Shelton even has a Change.org petition to try to get squatter laws changed to "make squatting in residential maintained homes criminal." Making squatting illegal "will shift the burden of proof onto the squatter and make the crime punishable with restitution an option for damages," the the petition states.

Watch Shelton share his personal story:

Democracy

Australia is banning entry to anyone found guilty of domestic violence anywhere in the world

"Australia has no tolerance for perpetrators of violence against women and children." 👏👏👏


Australia is sending a strong message to domestic abusers worldwide: You're not welcome here.

Australia has recently broadened a migration law to bar any person who has been convicted of domestic violence anywhere in the world from getting a visa to enter the country. American R&B singer Chris Brown and boxing star Floyd Mayweather had been banned from the country in the past, following their domestic violence convictions. Now the ban applies to all foreign visitors or residents who have been found guilty of violence against women or children.

Even convicted domestic abusers who already have visas and are living in Australia can be kicked out under the new rule. The government is using the rule, which took effect on February 28, 2019 to send a message to domestic violence perpetrators.


“Australia has no tolerance for perpetrators of violence against women and children," Federal Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs David Coleman said in a public statement. “The message is clear: if you've been convicted of a violent crime against women or children, you are not welcome in this country, wherever the offence occurred, whatever the sentence."

The ban is supposed to make Australia safer, but not everyone is happy about it.

“By cancelling the visas of criminals we have made Australia a safer place," Coleman said. “These crimes inflict long lasting trauma on the victims and their friends and family, and foreign criminals who commit them are not welcome in our country."

However, Australia's neighboring country of New Zealand has long taken issue with Australia's policy of exporting convicts, and this new policy highlights why. Under the new rule, New Zealanders who have already served their sentences for domestic violence and lived in Australia most of their lives could be kicked out and sent to live in New Zealand. Such circumstances raise questions about when justice has been served and the role of rehabilitation in domestic violence convictions.

Australia, like many other countries, is trying to come to terms with its domestic violence problem.

Barring domestic violence perpetrators from other countries sends a strong message, but it's only meaningful if the country also tackles the problem among its own citizens. According to a Personal Safety Study conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, about 17% of Australian women and 6% of Australian men have experienced partner violence since the age of 15. And the numbers have remained relatively stable since 2005.

That may seem to indicate that little progress has been made; however, as Australian law professor Heather Douglass points out, the numbers only tell part of the story. Since most people in abusive relationships don't report the abuse until after they've left, it could simply be that more are leaving, which is a good thing. There has also been a marked increase in people seeking domestic violence services in some areas, which, again, is a good thing. For far too long, domestic violence was swept under the rug while victims were often too afraid or embarrassed to seek help. More calls for help could mean that the stigma associated with domestic violence is starting to fade.


This story originally appeared on 04.01.19


There's not a woman alive who hasn't suffered through an unwanted come-on from a creep. Some women are so afraid of these encounters they feel they can't be as nice to men as they'd like, for fear their friendliness will be mistaken for flirtation.

One woman's encounter with a creepy come-on has received over 110,000 likes on Twitter because of her flawless response.

Twitter user @LovableAndKind recently shared screenshots from a text exchange between her sister and a Jiffy Lube employee who found her phone number and sent her an unsolicited text.


The woman received a text from an unfamiliar number that read: “You are gorgeous." When she asked who it was he responded, “Your favorite oil change guy."

The woman could have responded with anger or ignored the creep and blocked him, but instead she decided to create a teachable moment.

“While I know you were wanting to give me a compliment, it was completely unnecessary and unsolicited," she replied. “I am a customer, you are a service provider, and there should be no communication outside of that unless I, the customer, express interest."

She then explained why his text was so violating.

“It is a violation of my privacy for you to contact me from your personal phone with information that you got without my permission," she continued.

“And now I know that you are the type of person to go back in someone's file to find their personal information, what is to keep you from going back and getting my address? There are men who stalk, rape and murder women this way."

She then wrote that she could call Jiffy Lube human resources to report his actions, but she'd rather he learned from the incident.

“Sorry about that yes ma'am," he responded.

Then she hit him back with one final diss.

“Oh, and you didn't tell me what the tire pressure was on the rear passenger tire like I asked, so you're definitely not even in my top five favorite oil change guys," she wrote.

Here's the entire exchange.

assets.rebelmouse.io

This article originally appeared on 08.09.19

Democracy

How this protest image became an instant icon

She was arrested shortly after the photo was taken.

A photo by Jonathan Bachman.

A woman confronts the police at a Black Lives Matter rally.

A stunning photo of an African-American woman confronting police at a Black Lives Matter rally blazed across social media this weekend, with some calling it a touchstone image that will stand as a powerful symbol for many years to come.

The photo, captured by Jonathan Bachman of Reuters, comes from a Black Lives Matter rally outside Baton Rouge police HQ this weekend. Police in full riot armor are shown descending on a poised, well-dressed woman, apparently about to be cuffed.


Her name is Leshia Evans, according to the Daily Mail, a 28-year-old nurse from New York who had not been to a protest rally before this one. The AP says Evans was arrested for blocking a public roadway shortly after the image was taken.

DeRay McKesson, one of the most prominent voices of the Black Lives Matter movement, was also arrested at Saturday's rally. McKesson was released after 16 hours in a cell; he told the New York Times that he felt Saturday's mass arrests were unlawful, as the protesters were peacefully assembled on the side of the highway.

"What we saw in Baton Rouge was a police department that chose to provoke protesters to create, like, a context of conflict they could exploit," said McKesson. Over 100 other protesters were also arrested Saturday.

The protests were a direct response to the killing of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge last week, after two officers shot him repeatedly outside a Baton Rouge convenience store. Shortly after Sterling's death, a school cafeteria worker was shot and killed by police in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. And at a protest rally in Dallas following Falcon Heights, five police officers were killed by snipers.

Last week's violence is already proving to be an intensely raw and revealing piece of American history. Bachman's photo will surely be one of the images that lasts.

This article originally appeared on 10.23.17