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New Head of “Constitutional Sheriffs” Calls MLK a “Thug”

On June 19, 2023, the 158th anniversary of the “Juneteenth” enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation on the last Texas slavers, Sam Bushman, the owner of Liberty News Radio, used his show to broadcast his belief that the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a “thug.” What made the remark newsworthy was the host’s other occupation: Since December 2022, Bushman, 51, has also served as CEO of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA), a group that believes sheriffs may pick and choose which laws they enforce.

Founded in 2011 by Richard Mack, 71, the former sheriff of Arizona’s Graham County, CSPOA first gained traction pushing back against gun-control laws. But it took off during the COVID-19 pandemic by fighting masking ordinances. Its membership now includes about 300 of the nation’s 3,000 sheriffs, Mack said. Some 10,000 citizens have also joined.

As she testified at a 2021 Congressional hearing, Mary McCord, legal director of the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection at Georgetown University, called the theory of a sheriff’s legal supremacy “a made-up thing.”

“It has no real authority under law,” she insisted.

So how has it become so pervasive? Answering that is James Edwards, host of a long-running show on Bushman’s network called Political Cesspool. He promotes another succession by Southern states because “Dixie and everything about her must endure for our posterity.” As if to drive home his underlying racial bigotry, Bushman added: “The truth is, we are white. And so we advocate for the white race, why wouldn’t we?”

But advocating for his own racial identity also means Bushman denigrates other races, especially Blacks, calling King “an absolute rapist, pervert thug that wasn’t religious at all” but “a sexual predator to the n-th degree.”

“Everywhere he went, there was violence,” Bushman added—as if civil rights protesters were responsible for the firehoses and attack dogs that were trained on them. Yet Mack stood by his man, saying: “I don’t agree with everything Martin Luther King did either.”

Texas de-certified CSPOA to train sheriffs in that state, saying the group peddled “political” indoctrination. State investigators found CSPOA trainers telling deputies they were at “war” with “traitors and saboteurs” employed in state bureaucracies. When the state Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) in May 2023 called the group’s theories a “misapplication” of “judicial review, which gives courts the authority to determine the constitutionality of laws,” Mack replied: “I don’t care what TCOLE says!”

Mack is also a former board member of Oath Keepers, the organization whose founder, Stewart Rhodes, was sentenced to an 18-year prison term for sedition for his leading role in the insurrection and attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. Eight other group leaders have also been convicted.

CSPOA appeals to a uniquely powerful group. Sheriffs, 92% of whom are white, control the lion’s share of budget dollars in their counties, yet they operate largely without oversight and often for a very long time. According to a 2019 Harvard University study, the average U.S. sheriff holds office for 11 years. See: There’s (Rarely) a New Sheriff in Town: The Incumbency Advantage for County Sheriffs, Zoorob (November 12, 2019).  


Additional sources: Rolling Stone, Washington Post

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