U.S. Rep. Casten condemns far-right sheriffs meeting

U.S. Rep. Sean Casten (D-Downers Grove)

U.S. Rep. Sean Casten (D-Downers Grove) blasted a meeting of the far-right Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA) in Illinois to help county sheriffs to oppose the assault weapons ban.

The CSPOA, led by Oath Keepers board member and former sheriff Richard Mack, has started a campaign to infiltrate Illinois law enforcement and galvanize far-right efforts across the state. The group held a meeting this past weekend in Springfield.

Elmer Stewart Rhodes III, the founder and leader of the Oath Keepers, was convicted of seditious conspiracy in relation to the Jan. 6 insurrection in November 2022.

“Public safety is a two-way street,” Casten said in a statement. “It depends on law enforcement to enforce the law, but also depends on public confidence that those laws will be enforced without prejudice, and not subject to the whims of a particular officer. When a sheriff refuses to implement the laws of Illinois in their community, they make future mass shootings more likely. They compromise the safety not only of civilians but also of the police officers who may end up in the line of fire.”

He said that inviting a leader of a group that has been implicated in an attempted coup showed a disregard for democracy and endangered the community.

The CSPOA is taking advantage of opposition to the SAFE-T Act, which bans selling assault weapons in Illinois and requires those who own them to register them with the state. Many downstate sheriffs have stated they will not enforce the law.

 “The Illinois General Assembly passed a law to ban the sale of the assault weapons and high-capacity magazines that made the Parkland, Dekalb, and Highland Park shootings so deadly,” Casten said. “That is the law in the state of Illinois, and no one should have to guess whether that law will or will not be enforced based on the county they are in. The actions of any sheriff refusing to enforce the law are unacceptable and we must hold them accountable.”

Casten has been vocal on progressive causes since a Downers Grove drag bingo was forced to cancel after threats. He won re-election against former Orland Park mayor Keith Pekau, who had the support of Awake Illinois, in 2022.