Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker is having a difficult time getting people to follow his diktats on his restrictions for the coronavirus. So, after throwing a few tantrums, he put his foot down and threatened to cut off funding for counties that refused to enforce his edicts and has had business owners arrested who have dared to defy him.
He sicced the state police on a tiny church in rural Illinois that met in person in defiance of his church-closing policy. He was one of the first governors to whine about how little Trump was doing to help the states while GOP governors in neighboring Missouri and Indiana were managing just fine.
In recent weeks, enforcement departments in rural areas of the state have indicated in no uncertain terms that they were through enforcing Pritzker’s iron will. That brought a blast from Pritzker’s office designed to put those departments in their place.
The Illinois Emergency Management Agency, or IEMA, sent a memo to local law enforcement officials on May 20 informing them federal funds may be withheld from their department if they do not enforce Pritzker’s executive order. It stated, “failure to execute or enforce the [executive order] could be considered noncompliance with the [Public Assistance Program Grant] Agreement condition to comply with all applicable state laws, regulations and policies thus placing the applicant’s funding in jeopardy.”
Pritzker’s latest threat comes as support for his executive order faces new opposition each day. Law enforcement leaders from the state police to local departments have said they will not be penalizing violators after the governor signed an executive order that made a violation by business owners punishable by up to one year in prison as a Class A misdemeanor. He withdrew this penalty after significant public backlash.
County sheriffs, local police departments, even the state police are in open revolt against him.
On May 19, the Illinois State Police said they will not be arresting any business owner that violates the executive order. Action will only be taken in rare cases in the form of fines or civil penalties against the business after repeated violations. Instead, enforcement will be done educationally by encouraging businesses to follow the best public health practices.
Locally, sheriffs and police chiefs have said they will not be taking part in legal action against businesses. The McHenry, Kendall, Ogle, Grundy, Hancock, Douglas and Kane County sheriffs have declined to take legal action against violators.
“It is outrageous that the governor is threatening retaliation against [sheriffs] and the men and women of their offices,” said Jim Kaitschuk, president of the Illinois Sheriff Association. “He is insulting heroic police officers, corrections officers and local voters.”
Illinois residents are begging for help to save them from this autocrat. Half the state has barely been touched by the coronavirus, but Pritzker has the place still shut up tight as a drum.
His fellow autocrat, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, says that the city will have a partial reopening beginning in early June. As for when there will be freedom for Chicagoans, Lightfoot won’t say.
Illinois has suffered more than 4,700 COVID-19 deaths and 105,000 positive tests, with the vast majority from the Chicago area. It’s time to let our people go and open the damn state.
And leave the cops alone.