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Opening Arguments

Public nuisance

Officials in a lot of towns would like to stick it to Walmart. One Indiana mayor has found a creative way to do it:

 BEECH GROVE, Ind. -- When a man shot himself following an incident at Walmart in Beech Grove, it was the last straw for that town’s mayor. He’s declared the business a public nuisance.

On Thursday morning, 42-year-old Gillace Monroe Samples tried to steal from the store, police said. After being caught by security, Samples waved his gun at employees before running to a nearby restaurant and shooting himself in the head as police closed in.

[. . .]

The shooting is the latest in a string of high-profile incidents that have been connected to the troubled Walmart store over the last two months, joining a brawl between two women in the store’s shampoo aisle and a separate act of shoplifting that ended with a crash that killed a 63-year-old woman.

As a public nuisance, Walmart can be assessed fines when officers are needed there.

[. . .]

The aftermath of previous incidents saw police discussing how frequent runs to Walmart have stretched the department’s resources. Between February 2014 and mid-June, Beech Grove police made 1,278 runs to the store resulting in 473 arrests.

Guy gets caught trying to steal, then runs away and shoots himself, and it's the store's fault? In a town the size of Beach Grove, Walmart probably gets the most traffic of any store, so, lots of people congregating, which means lots of potential for mischief. So, yeah, a public nuisance, especially to the other merchants in town. And damn that place anyway for selling all that stuff so cheaply and encouraging the riffraff to get together all in one place.

Nuisance laws in general bother me. You can be charged with maintaining a common nuisance if somebody at your part sneaks out back and smokes a joint, or with visiting one if you're a guest sipping wine in the corner. Of course the state must show you had actual knowledge of the illegal activity (at least in Indiana), but a good prosecutor can get around that little inconvenience.