A right-wing Claremont Institute is undermining law and order and encouraging secession one county at a time.
The think tank, where coup memo author John Eastman remains a member in good standing, is weaponizing "patriotic law enforcement officers" with its new "Sheriff's Fellowship" that ties together conservative anger over Black Lives Matter protests, COVID-19 lockdowns and Donald Trump's election loss to bring so-called "Constitutional Sheriffs" into the mainstream, reported The Bulwark's Charlie Sykes.
"Our nation's conservative movement needs a countervailing network of uncorrupted law enforcement officials," the think tank announced. [We need sheriffs] "not beholden to bureaucratic masters, and whose geographic boundaries, jurisdictional latitude, and -- most important -- direct connection and responsibility to citizens, places them on the frontlines of the defense of civilization."
The plan sounds a lot like the Constitutional Sheriffs movement, which has infiltrated law enforcement agencies around the country with specious claims borrowed from the sovereign citizen movement that places the county sheriff as the "highest legitimate law enforcement" in the U.S. and claims they have authority to determine which laws are constitutional.
"Think of it as militias with badges, guns, and formal law enforcement powers," Sykes wrote. "Or, if you like, secession-by-sheriff."
Trump and his administration encouraged the sheriffs' movement and openly backed leading figures such as Arizona's Joe Arpaio and Wisconsin's David Clarke, and former attorney general Jeff Sessions praised the "Anglo-Saxon heritage" of the office -- which the Claremont Institute also did in a recent fundraising letter.
"The current revolution against the American regime, involving as it does both crime and political malfeasance, requires a coordinated response from patriotic law enforcement officers," the letter reads. "Sheriffs are appropriate for this response. Since their beginnings as 'shire-reeves' ('county watchmen') centuries ago in England, sheriffs have been intimately connected with, and answerable to, the people of their "shires" and therefore the first layer of protection, and last line of defense, for the people's rights."
Another Arizona sheriff, Pinal County's Mark Lamb, has emerged as a leading figure among militia-minded right-wing sheriffs who are loyal to Trump and supportive of the Jan. 6 insurrection.
"If Claremont gets its way, there will be sheriffs like Joe Arpaio, David Clarke, and Mark Lamb all across the country," Sykes wrote. "You are not worried nearly enough about what that might mean."