Convener’s Corner | August 2017

August 25, 2017

Trump Pardoned Arpaio – What we gonna do???Excuse my language, but I am pissed. Not because Trump pardoned Arpaio — the Executive has an unfettered constitutional right to grant clemency to whoever s/he wishes. I am outraged because we as a progressive community are too often stymied by what the conservative and law enforcement communities think about our thoughts and actions and, as a result, are afraid to go bold. Trump went bold. He cut right through the red tape and pardoned his bigoted buddy.The handwriting was on the wall toward the end of the Obama administration. The Executive was urged, time and again, to go bold. Instead, although well-meaning, the progressive administration adopted a process on top of an already flawed process. It followed the long-standing but problematic rule of law of deferring to the same agency that prosecuted and imprisoned those now appealing for release. It would likely be the last opportunity for at least four years for people like William Underwood, Michelle West, Leonard Peltier, Mutulu Shakur, Alice Johnson and John Knock to have any hope of release from lengthy incarceration. But the progressive administration was stymied by criteria, by prosecutorial veto, by blind adherence to process and procedure, by red tape, and by the time-honored rule of law. And now, in one fell swoop and under cover of darkness with an impending hurricane, we witness the bold pardon of the scandalous former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona. Trump followed no process; indeed sentencing had not even occurred. The gall and audacity of the President. But clemency is his constitutional right, unfettered by process, procedure or public opinion.When are we as a progressive community going to realize that it doesn’t matter whether we carefully follow the rules (as we did during the Obama-era clemency initiative); or thumb our nose at process (what we should have done) – we are going to be criticized, ostracized and condemned by our adversaries. It always is “damned if you do; damned if you don’t.” Thus we as a progressive community must at all times unabashedly and boldly step up to the plate for justice. In the words of the great anti-slavery orator Henry Highland Garnett, “Let Our Motto be Resistance, Resistance Resistance!”Trump May Pardon Joe Arpaio but History will Not, Brennan Center, August 25, 2017Trump’s Pardon of Joe Arpaio is an Endorsement of Racism, Civil Rights Leaders Say, August 25, 2017Trump’s Pardon of Joe Arpaio is a Presidential Endorsement of Racism, ACLU says, August 25, 2017Jeff Sessions Should be Screaming Bloody Murder About a Potential Joe Arpaio Pardon, Reason, August 24, 2017.Five Reasons Racism Sheriff Joe Arpaio Should not Receive a Presidential Pardon, ACLU, August 23, 2017Sheriff Arpaio: Trump has ‘Guts & Courage,’ NPR, August 18, 2017

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