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Somerville mayor calls Bristol sheriff ‘jack-booted thug’ in sanctuary spat

Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone spoke about his city being a “sanctuary city” and the possible defunding by the current administration at a press conference in January. Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff/File/Globe Staff

To Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone, Bristol County Sheriff Tom Hodgson is a lot like Grandpa Simpson: just an old man yelling at the clouds.

On Tuesday night, Curtatone posted a pointed Facebook statement challenging Hodgson, who called for the arrest of elected officials who support so-called “sanctuary cities.” Curtatone told Hodgson to “come and get me.”

“Officials like Hodgson should feel free to keep blowing hot air,” Curtatone wrote. “By all means, expose yourself as the sort of jack-booted thug who wants to jail your political opponents for made-up offenses.”

Somerville has considered itself a sanctuary city for three decades. In February, the community celebrated its status as a safe place for families who have immigrated to the United States.

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Curtatone’s social media post included a screenshot from an episode of The Simpsons that shows Grandpa Simpson in a newspaper clip, shaking his fist at the air. The picture is under the headline, “Old Man Yells at Cloud.”

The image is used frequently online when people want to dismiss a person’s complaints as irrelevant, or overblown.

The no-holds-barred Facebook status was posted after Hodgson made remarks before members of the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday, saying public officials like Curtatone and Mayor Marty J. Walsh, who support “sanctuary city” pledges and refuse to enforce all federal immigration laws, should be jailed.

“If these sanctuary cities are going to harbor and conceal criminal illegal aliens from ICE, which is in direct violation of [federal regulations], federal arrest warrants should be issued for their elected officials,” Hodgson told the committee.

There is no formal designation for a so-called sanctuary city, but the term is used to describe cities and towns that refuse to enforce certain federal immigration laws, such as asking police to detain undocumented immigrants for federal authorities, even when they are not accused of violent crimes.

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“Hodgson is now calling for the federal government to arrest all mayors of sanctuary cities (despite the fact that we’re not breaking any laws),” Curtatone said. “Sanctuary cities aren’t hiding. We know the law. More importantly, we know we’re not violating the law.”

Read the full post from Curtatone below:


Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear. Globe correspondents Nicole Fleming and John Hilliard contributed to this report.