82-Year-Old Arrested Over Her Unpaid $77 Trash Bill

Martha Menefield was handcuffed, briefly taken to jail
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 5, 2022 9:14 AM CST
82-Year-Old Arrested Over Her Unpaid $77 Trash Bill
   (Getty Images / MaxProImages)

After the handcuffs were placed on Martha Menefield, the Valley, Alabama, woman says one of the officers leaned in and "kind of whispered" to her that she shouldn't cry. She had a biting response, per CBS42: "How would you feel if they came and arrested your grandmama?" Menefield is an 82-year-old Black woman who was arrested Nov. 27 over an unpaid $77.80 trash bill and briefly put in the Valley Jail before being released on bond. It was a contentious enough arrest that the city of Valley addressed it in a press release posted to Facebook two days later.

It reads in part, "While our officers can use their discretionary judgment on certain matters, the enforcement of an arrest warrant issued by the court and signed by a magistrate, is not one of them." The release lays out a timeline dating back months: It alleges Menefield was cited in August for not paying for trash services that month or the two months prior, and that the citation only came after Code Enforcement tried and failed a number of times to connect with Menefield via phone or in person. "When contact could not be made, a door hanger was left at her residence" asking her to make contact.

The city says the citation instructed Menefield to appear in court on Sept. 7 and she failed to do so; Menefield says she never received it. The warrant was then issued. The press release further points out Menefield has had her trash services suspended or revoked 22 times since 2006. Menefield's daughter tells CBS42 it's ridiculous the situation was handled by police. "This isn’t a criminal act. This is civil, if anything." The Washington Post notes there was an outpouring of people asking if they can pay off the bill in the comments below the press release, but the county clerk's office noted the balance can't be settled until Menefield’s next court date, which is scheduled for January. (Read more unpaid bill stories.)

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