‘Not the time to introduce fear into our society’: Illinois sheriff hits back at governor’s stay-at-home order

The sheriff of the second-most densely populated county in Illinois said he feels the governor has “trampled” on his First Amendment rights and will not “victimize” citizens “trying to put food on their children’s table.”

DuPage County Sheriff James Mendrick posted on his Facebook account Sunday night that his county is ready to reopen and that he supports his fellow residents who “have offered no trouble or no resistance” to the state’s stay-at-home order meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

“I feel that my own 1st amendment constitutional right to free speech has been completely trampled on by a governor who has threatened my Offices’ reimbursement and grant funds as a tool to force me not to speak,” he began his post.

“I just can’t do this any more. I stand with our citizens and businesses of DuPage County who have offered no trouble or no resistance to any rule we put upon them, no matter how strange. In fact they have communally helped to support us during this pandemic with resources and physical help,” he said.

Included in the post was a reminder that law enforcement officers “are not stormtroopers. We are peacekeepers.”

“We can re-open responsibly and with proper care. We’re not just going to open up with no precautions but science suggests a potentially different route. We did all say from the beginning that we would follow science to the end correct?” he said.

“This is not the time to introduce fear into our society by threatening class A misdemeanors,but instead it’s a time to assist our citizens and businesses to get back on their feet. I feel DuPage County is ready to re-open responsibly before everything is gone and I will not victimize lawful residents of DuPage County trying to put food on their children’s table,” he wrote.

DuPage County is second to Cook County in terms of population size in Illinois.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has a stay-at-home order issued for the state that will remain in effect until May 30. The Democratic governor issued an emergency order last week that could hit businesses with a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $2,500, if they open in defiance of the stay-at-home order.

“Nobody’s getting arrested or handcuffed,” said Ann Spillane, the general counsel for the governor. “But they are getting a citation where they would have to go to court.”

Republicans have blasted the move, saying it’s an overreach.

“These rules are a legal overreach and beyond the scope of the governor’s authority,” House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said in a statement Sunday. “It will be a dark day in Illinois when we charge small businesses with a jailable crime for salvaging their livelihoods.”

Mendrick did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

*story by The Washington Examiner