Garfield Sheriff’s Office deputies crossed the line | AspenTimes.com

Garfield Sheriff’s Office deputies crossed the line

Dear Editor:

Thank you to The Aspen Times for continuing the coverage about the Garfield County Sheriff Department’s/ICE raids at the Strawberry Days carnival.

Thank you too to the local businesses who have signed onto the petition requesting that ICE and the Garfield Sheriff’s Office follow ICE’s own directives to refrain from conducting actions at or near sensitive community locations or venues where children and their families may be present.

Regardless of what community members think about U.S. immigration policy, can anyone condone the targeting of fathers who are enjoying a family carnival with their children because they happen to be wearing certain colored clothes (and sporting brown skin – did the sheriff’s deputies ask all of the white/anglo Strawberry Days attendees to remove their “gang colors” that day?).

Garco sheriff’s deputies overstepped the boundaries of common sense and human decency and I can only hope the publicity this action has garnered in the Roaring Fork Valley, the state and nationally will make them think twice about their tactics in the future.

Rather than feeling that this operation created a safer environment for the community (I’ve actually never felt unsafe at Strawberry Days), I personally now feel much less safe taking my young children to public events in Garfield County, and have lost confidence in the Garfield Sheriff’s Office after witnessing their blundering and defensive reaction to the press surrounding their actions. The fact that Sheriff Vallario has been unable to supply any evidence of gang membership by at least two of the arrested men raises serious questions for me about why this action was necessary at this place and at this time. Just because the sheriff’s department calls someone a gang member shouldn’t mean that deputies can do whatever they please to whomever they please with impunity. Is this really supposed to make us feel safer?

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Finally, I applaud the response of other festival organizers and businesses to bring this to light and to publicly ask these agencies to discontinue such operations. Please support these businesses and encourage others to sign on to the petition. It would be a shame if the sheriff’s actions resulted in lost revenues because of a climate of fear and a lack of trust in those we have elected to protect us.

Lani Shaw

Snowmass

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