I would like to comment on a recent story published in your paper titled “Readers respond to First Amendment debate.” I am outraged and truly alarmed by the conduct of Mayor Stack/ Chief Everett. The U.S. Supreme Court has consistently ruled that political speech is given greater protection under the constitution than other speech. Additionally, in N.Y. Times Co. v. Sullivan the court ruled that public officials, i.e. Stack, have less protection under the first amendment when they are attacked in their roles as public officials. It is clear that Mr. Scarafile’s actions were protected under the First Amendment. The issue of whether this was free speech or a crime is an issue which will ultimately be decided by the courts at taxpayers’ expense.
What truly concerns me is the disproportionate response of Stack/Everett to the “alleged crime”. Union City residents should be asking themselves one question, if I was the victim of a fraud, would Stack/Everett have acted in the same manner? The answer is clearly no.
The following questions need to be asked: Why was Mayor Stack at the scene of the arrest? What role did Stack play in the investigation? Chief Everett has previously accused Mayor Stack of interfering with the police department and using the department to further his own political agenda. Is this another case of Stack interfering with the police department? Who is running the department Everett or Stack?
Finally, why was Mr. Scarafile’s photo released? I read the North Hudson Reporter every week and can rarely recall the UCPD releasing photos of a person being arrested. Coincidentally, just last week three men were arrested for possession of semi-automatic weapons and planning a home invasion. Everett/Stack were quick to release a photo of the weapons, but no mug shots were released. Chief Everett/Stack, most people in Union City know what a gun looks like, what we would really like to know, so we can protect ourselves, is what the person behind the gun looks like. Why did you not release the photos of three armed men planning harm to Union City residents? The answer is clear, Everett/Stack released the photo of Mr. Scarafile to embarrass and humiliate a person whom they deemed to be a political opponent.
The actions of Everett/Stack should concern all Union City residents. Their actions have a chilling effect on one’s right to engage in political speech. Police and government responding to political activities and conducting searches and arrests are actions we associate with countries like Cuba, Iran, and North Korea.
I close with the following court citation which all Union City residents should reflect on when considering the arrest of Mr. Scarafile:
“This proposition has disquieting implications for criticism of governmental conduct. For good reason, no court of last resort in this country has ever held, or even suggested, that prosecutions for libel on government have any place in the American system of jurisprudence.” City of Chicago v. Tribune Co., 307 Ill. 595, 601, 139 N. E. 86, 88 (1923).
A Concerned American Citizen
God Bless America