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The Rise of the Anti-Lockdown Sheriffs

The Marshall Project – Opposition to stay-at-home orders is the latest example of a history of powerful sheriffs, which stretches back to the end of slavery and the settling of the frontier. “…Mike Herrington [Chaves County NM] is one of at least 60 sheriffs nationwide, spread across more than a dozen states, who are publicly opposing restrictions issued by governors, according to a Marshall Project analysis of news reports and official statements. There are likely many more quietly declining to enforce them. All law enforcement officers have a great deal of discretion, but the power of sheriffs in particular stretches deep into American history, to the end of the Civil War and the settling of the frontier. This history can help us make sense of their increasingly central role in partisan battles about public health and economic recovery, as they clash with governors through viral Facebook posts and media appearances. While police chiefs are appointed and thus insulated from politics, sheriffs are elected and many have built their reputations by defying state and federal laws in areas ranging from immigration to gun control. The best known sheriffs in America in recent years, Joe Arpaio of Arizona and David Clarke of Wisconsin, used racially charged criticism of President Obama to become high-profile allies of President Trump…”

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