Anti-Census Fever Results In Census Worker Arrest
Russell Haas, a former New Jersey police officer, was just doing his job going door-to-door in Hawaii as a Census worker. A resident refused to accept the forms and told Haas to leave his property. The homeowner, a police officer, called his co-workers on the force who seemed unaware of the federal law allowing Census workers to request participation.
When police arrived, instead of asking the resident to accept the forms as required by federal law, the officers crumpled the papers into Haas’ chest and handcuffed him, Haas said. The department hasn’t released the name of the officer who told Haas to leave his property.
Haas said he told officers that it was his duty to leave the Census forms with the resident, and that he would leave as soon as he did it.
The officers were enforcing state law and had not been trained on the federal Census law, Hawaii County Police Maj. Sam Thomas said.
Having elected Members of Congress express hostility toward the very Census that counts residents of their districts and thus enables them to be seated has stirred up anger toward the Census and Census workers.
Nationwide, Census workers have met more hostility than they did in the last count a decade ago. The agency tallied 436 incidents involving assaults or threats against its 635,000 enumerators through June 29, more than double the 181 incidents in 2000.
The increase came amid the resurgence of anti-government sentiment in the past year.
So just what does the law say about a Census worker’s rights?
Assistant U.S. Attorney Larry Butrick claims Haas is protected by the U.S. Constitution for actions taken in his capacity as a federal employee. Butrick filed a motion asking the judge to dismiss the case.
“Haas was instructed that when dealing with a reluctant respondent he was to strive to gain the respondent’s cooperation and try to be persuasive,” Butrick wrote in the motion. “Haas was told to be persistent in his attempt to talk to respondents.”Click here for reuse options!
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