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ACLU Issues Statement on Arrest of Richard Gardner

Posted: November 03, 2018|Category: Criminal Justice Due Process Fair Administration of Justice Police Practices Rights of Ex-Offenders

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The ACLU of RI  issued the following statement today on yesterday’s arrest of convicted sex offender Richard Gardner, whose residence in Providence has been the subject of protests and political grandstanding since his release from prison last month:

“Richard Gardner was arrested yesterday not because of what he did last month in the Cranston city clerk’s office, but for the crimes that led him to serve thirty years in prison before being lawfully released. That was made perfectly clear by Cranston police chief Michael Winquist when he acknowledged at his news conference that ‘whether he’s jaywalking, filing a false document, it doesn’t matter to us. We feel that he should be behind bars.’

“While many people are undoubtedly applauding Gardner’s detention regardless of the reason, his arrest – and the deliberate timing of it on a Friday afternoon to ensure he would be locked up over the weekend – represents a disturbing abuse of police power that should be of concern to all. The attitude that targets people for arrest because of who they are or what they did in the past is the same attitude that promotes an ‘ends justifies the means’ philosophy in policing that is contrary to the rule of law. It is a philosophy that also leads to targeting of people on the basis of their color or their neighborhood or even, like Cranston’s own notorious Ticketgate scandal, on the basis of their political views or actions. 

“Every person in the state who failed for years to pay on their tax return the sales taxes they incurred for their internet purchases committed the same crime Gardner is now alleged to have committed. In allowing the police to engage in the arbitrary and capricious enforcement of the law to target Gardner for arrest, we have given the police a green light that, in the long run, makes all of us less safe from abuses of government power.”

Earlier statements and a letter from the ACLU to the Mayor of Providence can be found here.

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