Snapshots

Antigovernment ‘Patriot’ Movement Takes Up Delaware Sheriff’s Crusade | Hatewatch | Southern Poverty Law Center

Sheriff Jeff Christopher of Sussex County, Del., believes county sheriffs are the last defense against lawmakers who plan to bulldoze the Constitution, establish a police state, and implement a dark “agenda” (whose details are not entirely clear). That’s why, in defiance of longstanding state laws that allocate powers of arrest and most other law enforcement duties to state and city police officers – and not to county sheriffs – he’s launched a crusade to turn back the clock to a time when the local sheriff was the county’s top law enforcement official.

Rallying behind him are adherents of the antigovernment “Patriot” movement, many of whom fear that shadowy forces are gathering to take away power from the people and concentrate it in the hands of a “New World Order.” American Free Press, an anti-Semitic weekly published by notorious Holocaust denier Willis Carto, and WorldNetDaily, a far-right online publication that peddles a seemingly endless stream of apocalyptic nonsense, have both reported on the Delaware legislature’s supposedly nefarious efforts to take away sheriffs’ powers.

Christopher also has support from the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA), a Patriot group, which warns that “[p]ower-hungry government officials” “backed by people with hidden agendas” are engaged in a plot to control the American people and take away their freedom. “The county sheriff,” CSPOA’s website says, “is the line in the sand. The county sheriff is the one who can say to the feds, ‘Beyond these bounds you shall not pass.’ This is not only within the scope of the sheriff’s authority; it’s the sheriff’s sworn duty.”

In a phone interview with Hatewatch, Christopher described himself as a “plain-Jane everyday guy” who wants only to defend the people who elected him against an overreaching government that wants to “nullify” his office, clearing the way for the formation of a police state.

As evidence of this scheme, he points to a recent proposal supported by a bipartisan group of state lawmakers that would clarify once and for all that Delaware sheriffs do not have the power to make arrests. If the law passes, he says, he’ll likely sue.

It’s been decades since Delaware sheriffs’ regular duties have extended much beyond serving subpoenas and civil papers, conducting tax sales, and executing other administrative tasks. The legality of this state of affairs has been affirmed by attorney generals’ opinions at least twice – most recently in February by State Solicitor Lawrence W. Lewis, writing on behalf of Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden (son of Vice President Joe Biden).

FULL ARTICLE: Antigovernment ‘Patriot’ Movement Takes Up Delaware Sheriff’s Crusade | Hatewatch | Southern Poverty Law Center.

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