By Aaron Goldsmith
I am a former city council member from Postville. I have lived and operated my company here for more than 12 years. The May 2008 raid on Agriprocessors by Immigration and Customs Enforcement will be a day never forgotten by those who live here. The trauma and excessive manner ultimately made the benefit of the raid questionable. University of Northern Iowa professors Mark Grey and Michelle Devlin and I were so deeply moved that we choose to co-author “Postville U.S.A.: Surviving Diversity in Small-Town America.” We tried to eliminate the spin that has clouded a truthful view of Postville and its significant events.
Reviewing the documents that authorized the raid, you can see specific references anticipating gun running and meth labs. So it is no surprise the enforcement was a show of brute force. The black military helicopter was not the type you see used by civilians, and it repeatedly and continually buzzed over our houses in a menacing fashion. Further, the federal government itself questioned the value of the Postville approach and has ceased these aggressive raids.
After I read Stephanie Rose’s June 23 guest essay, “Setting the Record Straight on the Postville Prosecution,” I was surprised to see how she tried to sanitize the raid. It’s as if the 600 officers were all walking around with “smiley face jerseys,” distributing cookies and Kool-Aid. I give her an “A” for creative writing.
My essay does not reflect my feelings about immigration policy. These comments are to advise those who did not personally experience this raid, and to underscore that this was a showcase for “Government Gone Wild.”
Shortly after the raid, CNN quoted me as follows, “They (the feds) took a problem that needed a 22-caliber bullet and they dropped a nuclear bomb on us.”
The prosecutors have done it again by successfully sentencing a 51-year-old man to 27 years in jail for a bizarre prosecution of bank fraud. The first raid devastated northeast Iowa, and this second action devastated our perception of equal justice for all. Rose’s press release continues to frame Sholom Rubashkin in the worst light so that these highly questionable prosecutorial tactics seem reasonable.
The prosecutor’s office felt compelled to write this piece because it must be feeling the heat. If justice was truly served then Rose and her colleagues would not need this “dog and pony” show.
Aaron Goldsmithis a former Postville City Council member.