Attorney general candidate responds to controversial poster

Published: Jun. 18, 2018 at 7:54 PM CDT
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The Kansas Democratic Party Monday responded to a candidate for attorney general placing a controversial poster at her law office in Lawrence.

The poster that was in Sarah Swain's office, depicting Wonder Woman lassoing a police officer around the torso and neck, created a stir with a largely negative response. The state's Democratic party is among the groups speaking out against Swain's use of the poster.

The party says promotion of violence against law-enforcement officers disqualifies Swain from serving as Kansas' chief law-enforcement officer. Adding to the sign's controversy is that it's display follows the recent fatal shootings of two Wyandotte County sheriff's deputies.

The Kansas State Trooper's Association also wants Swain to drop out of the race, but Swain says she wasn't trying to depict violence.

"On any day, I think that picture would have been ugly and very disrespectful and hurtful, but with everything that has gone on this week, what's at the forefront of my mind are there are two family and countless friends that are seeing a visual depiction that not only directly depicts violence toward a police officer, but could also insight a bigger reaction among certain members of the community to commit violent acts on other officers," said Sage Hill, Secretary on the executive board of The Kansas State Trooper's Association.

Monday, Swain issued the following statement in response to the negative feedback:

"In the criminal justice system, truth is at the heart of every case because the Constitution ensures that each of us is presumed innocent until proven guilty. As a criminal defense attorney for nearly 17 years, I have seen firsthand the injustice that can be doled out at the hands of less-than-honest police officers. I have been involved in many cases where the truth was ignored and people’s lives were destroyed. These are just some of the experiences that eventually led me to run for Attorney General of Kansas. For the last several years, a poster has hung inside the front door of my law office. It shows a female superhero wielding a lasso of truth and using the lasso to force the truth from the mouth of a police officer, a metaphor for the rigors of cross-examination, which forms the cornerstone of a zealous defense. I understand that this picture has been misconstrued by many as advocating for violence against the police and for that I apologize. I am not anti-law enforcement; I am pro-truth. And I do not condone violence in any form. As my campaign for attorney general moves ahead, I look forward to hearing from the citizens of Kansas about the critical issues facing our Attorney General and engaging in public discourse about my platform, which includes a commitment to true criminal justice reform, proper funding of our public school system, the legalization and/or decriminalization of marijuana and CBD, ending the war on drugs, increasing transparency surrounding police shootings of citizens, and much more."

In its stand against Swain's candidacy, the Kansas Democratic Party also issued a statement:

The tragic deaths of Wyandotte County sheriff's deputies Patrick Rohrer and Theresa King are a sad reminder that our law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day to keep our communities safe. The Kansas Democratic Party’s deepest sympathies are with the families of the fallen officers at this unfathomably difficult time. Promotion of violence against law enforcement officers disqualifies Swain from serving as Kansas’ chief law enforcement officer. We strongly condemn and reject any depiction of violence against law enforcement, including the image from Ms. Swain’s law firm. We did not recruit or encourage Ms. Swain to run for Attorney General, nor have we had any contact with her since she filed. The Party has reached out to her seeking an explanation of her past posts, but she has not responded. The Kansas Democratic Party honors, respects and supports law enforcement officers. As our party’s platform states, “our safety is due to the hard work and sacrifice of law enforcement officers . . . involved in overseeing the safety of others. We thank them for their service."