By Mark Anderson
What is a sheriff’s proper role in a free society? American Free Press contacted Richard Mack of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA) to answer that question. First, let’s go back in time to a seminal event, to dramatically illustrate what sheriffs should never do—simply follow the orders of judges and political bosses.
The year was 1946. Several World War II vets had just returned home when they found that tyranny in one’s own backyard can present a clear and present danger perhaps more compelling than whatever dangers distant foreign despots might present.
The wealthy Cantrell family had taken control of the McMinn County political machine in the 1930s. Paul Cantrell was elected county sheriff in 1936, 1938, and 1940. In 1942 and 1944, he was elected to the state senate while his chief deputy, Paul Mansfield, was elected county sheriff. The U.S. Justice Department received complaints from county citizens of electoral fraud in the 1940, 1942, and 1944 elections. These complaints went unanswered.
The sheriff’s department, instead of constitutionally protecting the people’s election and ensuring that it was conducted fairly, intimidated and physically abused voters. But the local military veterans hadn’t fought tyranny abroad only to tolerate it upon returning home. During the county’s 1946 elections, those veterans fielded their own non-partisan candidates, attempting to have a free and fair election. Paul Cantrell was running again for sheriff, while the current sheriff, Mr. Mansfield, did a switcheroo and sought the state senate seat.
When election day, Aug. 1, arrived, Mansfield brought in over 100 well-armed, aggressive deputies to detain and beat ex-GI poll watchers—while stealing the ballot boxes and taking them to the sturdy brick jailhouse for an “official count.” Taking the ballot boxes out of public view at the precinct location was a violation of state law.
Enraged, the veterans armed themselves to retrieve the stolen ballots in what became known as the Battle of Athens. With a key to the local armory, the vets obtained firearms and ammo and drove to the jailhouse to join the angry townsfolk. They gave Cantrell, the sheriff, and scores of deputies—holed up in the upper floors of the jailhouse with the stolen ballot boxes—60 seconds to come out unarmed, with the ballot boxes in hand.
The thieves did not initially comply, so the local vets and townsfolk opened fire. An intense firefight ensued. There was a brief stalemate. Then, one of the vets, who was trained in explosives and had obtained some dynamite, blew open the front entrance. The smoke drove the thieves out and the townsfolk won the day and won subsequent local elections. No charges were levied against the vets or townsfolk.
RICHARD MACK RESPONDS
Asked about this scenario and the role of a sheriff in elections and other key civic matters, Mack, himself a former Arizona sheriff, said a sheriff should always lead the way in making sure elections are honest—up to and including impounding voting machines right on the spot, if necessary, though a court order would normally be needed.
“There should always be verification of any computerized voting,” Mack told AFP. “A German journalist told me they use hand-counted paper ballots, and they have to match the number of people who voted. The first thing is that you should probably not have computerized voting to begin with.”
Asked about the forensic audit of Dominion voting machines being carried out on his home turf of Maricopa County, Ariz. [See separate story in this edition.—Ed.], Mack responded, “I guess it’s a great first step, but, if the cheating that did maybe happen is lost now in cyberspace, there’s a problem. I’d like to make sure those machines had been kept in an evidence locker under lock and key.”
Mack added, “Attorney General Bill Barr never showed that there was any type of election investigation, and, if he did conduct one, show it to me. Who conducted it? The FBI? Secret Service? How did he actually know there was no cheating?”
Changing the topic, Mack said that, amid the “Covid crackdown, more people are starting to stand up,” and more sheriffs are starting to stand up, too.
“There is no excuse at any time for exemptions to the Bill of Rights. No government has any authority to force people to wear masks, or arrest people for not wearing them, or shut down their businesses. It’s time to wake up and restore liberty in this country,” Mack stated.
In other words, self-appointed dictators, like today and back in the 1940s, have no authority to steal elections, or close down society over medical claims.
Speaking of CSPOA itself, Mack said, “We want all officers, not just sheriffs, to uphold the rights of the people. If any resident suspects fraud, say in elections or home foreclosures, they should be able to approach their sheriff, and the sheriff is constitutionally obliged to act.”
Given all the tumult in the nation, Mack is traveling every weekend and quit a teaching job to keep up. “I’ve been overwhelmed with requests for seminars. I just got back from Minnesota. I did two seminars there. A lot of them were prompted by people whose businesses were shut down by government. Some were arrested. Their only crime was trying to make a living. One lady showed me her summons for violating local edicts three times, an emergency order of the Minnesota governor—and that order isn’t even a law.”
Mack, who’s been preparing for CSPOA’s annual in-person convention at The Woodlands, near Houston, Texas, Feb. 26-27, recently appeared on an online Zoom conference with retired intelligence officer Robert David Steele and former Elkhart County (Indiana) Sheriff Brad Rogers. As the three discussed the fundamentals of a good sheriff, Rogers probably said it best: “A sheriff can and should interpose for his citizens against an overreaching federal, state or local government.”
Indeed, had there been CSPOA chapters in the 1940s, the history of McMinn County, Tenn. may have turned out differently.
Mark Anderson is AFP’s roving editor. Email him at [email protected].