Abolitionist Law Center Statement in Opposition to Intimidation of Elected Magistrate in Allegheny County
March 3, 2022
As abolitionists, we have a responsibility to highlight police and prosecutors who abuse state power to “intimidate and coerce” independent jurists and elected officials whose policies reduce the carceral state and ensure constitutional safeguards against reckless, dangerous law enforcement officers and oppressive practices. We are disturbed that the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office would launch an investigation into Allegheny County Magistrate Mik Pappas, an investigation which the DA does not have innate authority to pursue. The investigation stems from allegations by the DA’s Office and Allegheny County detectives that Magistrate Pappas did not timely sign an arrest warrant for someone who was suspected of involvement in the murder of a Uber driver. The allegations are baseless. We view this as an unethical and improper (and potentially illegal) “investigation” — which is undeniably an attack on the fight to end cash bail and stop evictions by some of the most reactionary forces in Allegheny County.
Make no mistake about it, this is about defending the democratic will of the people that elected Magistrate Pappas on a platform of decarceration and protecting the advances of a human rights movement to keep people out of cages and in their homes. That is what we are defending. We perceive the same state agencies that oppose and intimidate elected members of the judiciary in Allegheny County as the same forces that oppose progressive prosecutors and judges, from Philly to SF:
Whether it’s the FOP in Philadelphia, suing the city for passing legislation that takes cops out of routine traffic stops…or a candidate for Pennsylvania governor, running on a platform to strip the rights of Philadelphians to elect their own DA and return Pennsylvania to the dark days of the 1990’s rush to mass incarcerate…or gentrifiers and a pro-mass incarceration lobby, seeking to recall a progressive prosecutor in San Francisco.
This is a lesson for abolitionists, decarceration advocates, and the human rights movement. We are making progress, threatening the grip of the carceral state’s power over these institutions. However, our progress also exposes the limitations of the system. Those who want to maintain an oppressive, racist status quo will never play by the rules they created to maintain their power.
It is only by dismantling these institutions in the long run, will our communities be safe, our people free, and our dignity and human rights respected.