Ron DeSantis Won’t See Your Tweets Saying Jail Is the Solution, but Your Local DA Will
September 23, 2022
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis did something so mind-blowingly awful it’s hard to believe. He decided to troll the libs by sending a plane of Venezuelan migrants – who are, by the way, legally in the United States as asylum seekers from a county our government says is an “illegitimate and authoritarian regime” that commits “crimes against humanity” – to Martha’s Vineyard. DeSantis seems to have thought he would show his audience how hypocritical the libs are when it comes to immigration. Of course, organizations arrived to help and provide aid, and DeSantis looked like a human rights Chernobyl for using children as part of a political ploy.
San Antonio Sheriff Javier Salazar made a big show of saying he would “open a criminal investigation” into the affair (even though he was not clear whether any laws were broken). Multiple news outlets have reported that these refugees were persuaded to get on the plane to Massachusetts by a woman named “Perla” who served as some kind of recruiter. Now, without getting into the specifics of laws and criminality, I want to address the idea that Salazar is a hero.
He’s not. He’s a sheriff who has treated people under his care with disdain, allowed excessive violence by deputies, and excused the tazing of a migrant child. “You are going to have jail deaths,” he said in a 2020 debate. Two families have also accused him of mishandling the investigation of a tragic case involving the shooting deaths of a woman and her two children.
But even if Salazar were perfect, more police cannot police the police. We see this over and over. Police do not exist to, and cannot, hold power to account. Some people believe that federal law enforcement will help them, and, indeed, the FBI and DOJ have and do prosecute law enforcement officials who commit crimes. But they don’t always win or have successful outcomes. The FBI uses tactics like snitch testimony that inherently compromises investigations and usually nets the least culpable, not the most. And real, marginalized people hurt by law enforcement are rarely the focus of those federal proceedings unless to pile on after a state conviction.
The criminal legal system consumes human lives at every level. It is so large that even the white, powerful, and rich sometimes find that the system they created to protect themselves and their capital occasionally ensnares them in its rapacious maw. But the system, at its heart, is still there to deliver violence against the powerless, not truth and justice to the powerful.
Look, I know people could point to exceptions where the system seemed to work. (Ask yourself, did it really, though?) In this particular case, Ron DeSantis isn’t going to be punished though. No prosecution of him will ever succeed.. And, here’s the thing – do we want a system that absorbs so many resources and makes communities less safe by orders of magnitude just for the faint hope that one day, ONE DAY, a real baddie will get caught? Or do we want to spend our resources making communities less violent and living in them better for more people? Who is the government really for? The police? Or us?
I wrote about the Claremont Institute’s Sheriffs Fellowship, including unreleased documents and information about what the sheriffs read and discussed lounging on the seashore in Huntington Beach, California.
Gautam Hans wrote a scorching review of Nina Totenberg’s “Dinners with Ruth.” Little water guns in soup bowels! It was probably tomato soup for extra effect..
California Attorney General Rob Bona took control of the LASD’s bizarre (and seemingly political) investigation into County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and others. A judge also ordered that Alex Villanueva could not search the computer seized during last week’s raid. Alene Tchekmedyian has it here.
I finally sat down to read this amazing piece by Rachel Aviv. There is, of course, a seemingly-callous sheriff’s office at the center.