The head of the Department of Justice’s civil rights division wrote on Friday in a formidated letter to Los Angeles officials that he was concerned that the county mayor and health director were taking “an arbitrary and heavy-handed approach to the continued tenure requirements. at home “.
The letter from Eric Dreiband, assistant to the Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division, came in response to comments from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who said in an interview with “Good Morning America” last week that the city “will never be fully open until having a cure” for the coronavirus, which has caused over 3,600 victims in California.
“I think we all have to recognize that we are not going beyond Covid-19, we are learning to live with it,” said Garcetti.
Dreiband also noted recent comments from Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer, who said last week that “with full certainty” a form of restriction will remain in effect for the 10 million county residents “for the next three months. ” Ferrer later clarified his comments, saying “while Safer at Home orders will remain in effect in the coming months, the restrictions will gradually be eased”.
Earlier this month, California began reopening the state’s economy, allowing some retail stores, manufacturers and logistics businesses to return on May 8th. At least 43 of the 58 counties in the state have been allowed to open even more, allowing for additional retail stores and restaurants in restaurants. Los Angeles, however, where over 2,000 coronavirus-related deaths have been recorded, has moved more slowly.
The DOJ warning: Dreiband warned in his letter to Garcetti and Ferrer that continuing restrictions could be “arbitrary and illegal”.
“Reports from your recent public statements indicate that you have suggested the possibility of a long-term blockade of residents in the city and county of Los Angeles, regardless of the legal justification for these restrictions. Any such approach can be both arbitrary and illegal, “he said.
While local officials may impose restrictions on citizens to protect their security during emergencies, Dreiband warned that “the Constitution and federal law prohibit arbitrary and unreasonable actions.”
“In a nutshell, there is no pandemic exception to the United States Constitution and its Charter of Rights,” he said.