Sheriff accused of intimidating Hmong voters

Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey is under investigation for alleged voter intimidation.

In California, the state Attorney General's Office is investigating reports that Hmong residents in Siskiyou County were being intimidated by the Sheriff's Office to keep them from voting in Tuesday's election.

Attorney General's Office in Siskiyou County after reports of sheriff intimidating voters

Sheriff Jon Lopey is under investigation for alleged voter intimidation during this week's primary election. Civil rights activists say that Lopey and his deputies set up a checkpoint outside a subdivision and stopped cars being driven by Hmongs only and asked them whether they were registered to vote.

Hmong residents say that county and state officials showed up at their homes carrying assault rifles and threatened to arrest anyone who tried to illegally vote. As a result, many Hmong resident reportedly did not turn out to vote in Tuesday's primary because they were afraid.

Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey

The American Civil Liberties Union says they were contacted last week by a representative of the Hmong community saying that residents were being intimidated by the Sheriff's Office.

"The story is particularly disturbing because the people being targeted are refugees who came here to escape oppression," the ACLU said in its press release. "Many of them fought alongside the United States to promote democratic freedoms."

Andy Fusso, founder of Siskiyou Forward, said the sheriff may have been trying to squash voter turnout to influence the passage of two measures related to banning outdoor marijuana growing and another one that would raise the sales tax by a half cent to build a new county jail.

The Attorney general and Secretary of State sent representatives to polling stations in Siskiyou County to "ensure that all voters are able to cast their ballot free from intimidation, interference or threats of violence," said Rachele Huennekens, a spokeswoman for Attorney General's Office.

"We are specifically monitoring reports of alleged voter intimidation among vulnerable minority populations, such as the Hmong community. Anyone who witnesses or is subject to voter intimidation should report it to the Secretary of State's office," she said.

More here: Right-wing sheriff under investigation for intimidating minority voters in California primary


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