Arresting people for criticizing the cops is a no-no

Sheriff Joe Arpaio likes to use his law enforcement powers to harass his critics. That’s a federal felony.

Somehow I missed the New Yorker profile of Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County.  Amid all the stuff I already knew about sadistic treatment of prisoners (mostly pretrial and therefore innocent in law) and immigration grandstanding there was something I didn’t know, though I suppose I could have guessed.  Arpaio makes a habit of using law enforcement authority to harass his critics, for example arresting the two publishers of a newspaper that criticized him after midnight raids on their residences on spurious charges of “violating grand-jury secrecy” and arresting four people who applauded an Arapaio critic at a public hearing for “disorderly conduct.”

Of course a magazine article isn’t evidence.  But if the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division isn’t looking into charging Arpaio and his goons for conspiracy to violate civil rights (18 U.S.C. 241*) then someone isn’t doing his job.  Unfortunately, this sort of behavior isn’t restricted to buffoons like Arpaio, but he’d be a good place to start.

* The offense consists of conspiring

to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same

Update  Sure enough, the FBI seems to be looking in to Arapaio’s abuse of power.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

10 thoughts on “Arresting people for criticizing the cops is a no-no”

  1. That's 18 U.S.C. sec 241 (not 214) — a surviving (and valuable) part of the venerable Anti-Ku Klux Act of 1871.

    [Corrected – thanks. MK]

  2. Expect the right to sell him as a victim-enemy of arbitrary government by Washington tyrannts.

    Sorry to say, it doesn't cover anyone in glory that for a quarter-century FBN/BNDD/DEA thought this sinister vacancy fit to be trained in the exercise of authority. And he did rise high.

  3. How do you feel about releasing the names of the signatories of the anti-same sex marriage petitions? Is there any purpose to releasing these other than to "injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate" the people who signed the petitions, as the time for contesting the petitions is long since past.

    I'm sure that you felt the same way when Paula Jones was audited by the IRS.

  4. Typical right-winger. Show him actual government agents kicking in people's doors and arresting them for political activity, and he's good with it – so long as they are right-wing government agents.

  5. @Horseball-

    Interesting that you should see no difference between releasing what is a public document (once the petition is submitted) and the use of the state to bully and intimidate dissenters. I thought you wingers were opposed to jack-booted thugs and their black helicopters.

  6. Arpaio's main problem is that he likes the cameras a bit too much. If he'd been happy to be a small-town authoritarian blowhard, he could empire-build like the same sorts of people in LA and TX.

    Actually, not that different than Giuliani, but for the bigger sandbox.

  7. You know, if I hadn't seen Horseball repeatedly excoriating Rupert Murdoch as a political censor for not offering me a daily hour on Fox News, I might think his comment was in bad faith.

    There probably is a place to discuss issues related to private actions taken as a result of political beliefs revealed on the public record (and just which records of signatures, contributions etc need to be named and public to preserve democracy), but I'm darned if I can see that place being in the comments section of a post on a public official acting under color of law to injure people who have expressed political opinions about his fitness for office.

  8. I've got a parrot that answers everything anyone says by saying "А у вас негров линчуют." (Remind you of anyone?) It's smart, for a bird. Nevertheless, it doesn't seem to know that tu quoque arguments are usually fallacious.

  9. K-

    Good point, so long as you consistently dismiss the tu quoque arguments offered in the posts on this blog. How's that for recursion?

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