By Mark Anderson
Given the “double trouble” posed by Covid-19 and by rioters that have simultaneously taken several major U.S. cities hostage amid calls to abolish police agencies, it’s refreshing to see the difference that a man of principle can make when confronting society’s biggest problems head on. That man is Sheriff Dar Leaf of Barry County, Mich. He is among the “few and the proud” sheriffs who are upholding the constitutional rights of all citizens while resisting tyranny in its many manifestations.
This AFP writer first met Sheriff Leaf at the July 25 state convention of the U.S. Taxpayers Party of Michigan—the state affiliate of the national Constitution Party—in Corunna, Mich. It was there he outlined the basic tenets of a militia as established under the U.S. Constitution.
“Everyone’s demonizing militias, when it’s simply about self-defense and defense of the land,” he lamented while speaking with this writer.
Sheriff Leaf also spoke at the Aug. 14 “Thin Blue Line” rally—which was one of many appearances he has made at public rallies to take a stand against the anti-police sentiment that’s been drummed up by dumbed-down Marxist protestors across the nation. He believes it is extremely important to stand up for the rights of the people, especially now. The harsh coronavirus measures meted out by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer have been taking a heavy toll on the Great Lakes State’s economy and its people.
From his appearances on Fox News nationally to interviews on local TV networks, Sheriff Leaf has been educating the people and the media on the principles that undergird our liberties. He continues to look out for the people’s rights, not simply carry out the governor’s arbitrary orders.
“I’m also trying to educate police officers on the people’s rights,” he told AFP. “Everywhere I go to speak, the left and most media try to label me as a racist, when our rights are for all.”
Sheriff Leaf often hears the refrain that it’s up to judges to decide whether laws are fair or constitutional. But he responds by noting that too many judges have become activists rather than objective interpreters of the Constitution, and modern prosecutors generally protect bad judges and bad governors. Police officers, he says, should not be automatons who just “follow orders.” Rather, they should have some basic knowledge of constitutional and legal principles and act accordingly.
“If we know a law is not lawful, we have a duty not to enforce it,” he said.
A real-life example, among many, was Leaf’s refusal to enforce Gov. Whitmer’s edict earlier in the summer that people could not take their boats on the water due to Covid-19. Leaf insists that people have a basic right to mobility and, besides, it would lower domestic complaint calls if married couples weren’t cooped up all day. He also says that it’s healthy to get fresh air and sunshine in an activity where social distancing is easy to achieve by its very nature.
At the May 18 “American Patriots’ Rally: Sheriffs Speak Out” anti-lockdown rally in Grand Rapids—which included peaceful protestors carrying AR- 15s—Leaf told a reporter that his message, as always, is “constitutional law.” Thus, when asked by the reporter whether he thinks Gov. Whitmer had gone too far with her stay-at-home orders,” he replied, “Constitutionally, yes.”
He summarized: “We don’t even know if those orders are legal. If you go and look at some of the federal codes, if we start enforcing stuff that’s not legal, we could be held liable—and [the penalty is] three times the damages plus reasonable attorney fees. So, if we shut down a business and they’re losing $100,000 a year, we might be responsible for $300,000 plus [the legal fees]. That’s where law enforcement is in a kind of rock-and-a-hard-place type position right now.”
As AFP goes to press, groups like Unlock Michigan, whose members have heard Leaf’s remarks at various rallies, are petitioning to gather enough valid signatures of registered voters to send the legislature a veto-proof measure that would undercut the 1945 law on which Gov. Whitmer has mainly based her executive orders. In addition, the 1976 Emergency Management Act (Act 390) only permits a Michigan governor to pass an executive order for 28 days, beyond which legislative approval for extensions is required.
Sheriff Leaf, a member of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, founded by former Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack, is on the front lines doing what police are supposed to do: only enforce laws that are constitutionally sound while also protecting the health and safety of the citizenry. Sheriff Leaf does not oppose reasonable common-sense masking, social distancing, and sanitary guidelines, but he has confidence that the people will voluntarily do the right thing for their health and the health of others. He firmly believes the citizenry should not be economically devastated and politically oppressed by power-hungry leaders who too often consider constitutional rights to be a “virus” that must be eradicated.
Mark Anderson is AFP’s roving editor. Email him at [email protected].