To the Editor:
We have all heard the stupid criminal arrest stories told by Jay Leno or Frank Coletta, and laughed along in amazement as to how dumb the criminals were. But, what Mayor Joseph Polisena, Police Chief Richard Tamburini, Fire Chief Timothy McLaughlin and the Mayor's Chief of Staff Doug Jeffrey did is no joking matter for the residents of Johnston. There could be ramifications and consequences both civil and criminal for their actions, if Council President Robert Russo fulfills his responsibilities as an officer of the court and a representative of the people, and requests an investigation by the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.
In my opinion, what these public servants did, acting under color of law in a planned lynch mob mentality, was to conspire to deprive Mr. Lashus to his livelihood unconstitutionally, violating his fundamental guarantees under the 4th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, all in violation to criminal code statute 18 U.S.C. 241, which states, in essence, any person acting under color of law, who knowingly and intentionally violates a fundamental right to a U.S. citizen, shall be held criminally responsible. The old adage, "yes, we will hang you, but first we will give you a hearing and then we will hang you," came to mind when I viewed the news coverage of this fiasco. And yes, it may be learned that the firefighters union played a part in this by being absent and willfully breaching their responsibilities. Their silence has been deafening. Why hasn't the local firefighters union called in the IAFF in Washington and filed an unfair labor practice?
Dr. Martin Luther King stated, "The ultimate measure as to the character of an individual, is to measure not during moments of comfort and convenience, but rather during times of challenge and controversy," and this is why all eyes should be on Council President Robert Russo. Will he uphold the law as an officer of the court? People are most often remembered for their acts of courage or their acts of cowardice, so let's watch. Also, let's be mindful here that there is a pending criminal procedure in a court of law, whereas Mr. Lashus is represented by legal counsel, and the chief of police attempted to interrogate him without his attorney being present on the very subject of his arrest. Since when does management call in the media for an employee discipline matter and take it to the extreme? What happened to arbitration? Are you listening Council President Russo?
This was wrong on so many levels that it broke the 35-year-old record for R.I.'s "Leadership at it's worst award," previously held by Providence Chief Angelo Ricci, when in a Providence Journal profile article, he told the staff writer that it is beneficial to the arrestee if you slap him around a bit. Needless to say, Chief Angelo Ricci was forced to resign. Ironically, it was Chief Angelo Ricci, also known as "Angelo and his raiders," of Providence's C-Squad Division, who mentored Chief Tamburini as a young police officer. Go figure. Chief Angelo Ricci could never figure out why what he said was wrong, and neither will Chief Richard Tamburini. Not even the purse snatching North Providence Chief of Police could unseat Chief Ricci, but Chief Tamburini did.
I believe that in the court of public opinion, these four public servants have been found guilty of conspiring to violate the rights of Mr. Lashus, and the only way that they can exonerate themselves is to do what federal government employees and corporate employees do, and that is to take a polygraph test. Otherwise, there will never be any public confidence in the police, fire and Town Hall of Johnston. And they will be considered guilty until proven innocent; the same verdict that they placed upon Mr. Lashus. I bet that they all refuse to take a polygraph test. Any takers?