|Thus, in the contest of centuries between liberty and authority, or, in other words, between social equality and social castes, the question at issue has not really been the relations between society and the individual, or the increase of individual independence at the cost of social control, or vice versa. Rather it has had to do with preventing any one individual from oppressing the others; with giving to everyone the same rights and the same means of action. It has had to do with substituting the initiative of all, which must naturally result in the advantage of all, for the initiative of the few, which necessarily results in the suppression of all the others. It is always, in short, the question of putting an end to the domination and exploitation of man by man in such a way that all are interested in the common welfare, and that the individual force of each, instead of oppressing, combating, or suppressing others, will find the possibility of complete development, and everyone will seek to associate with others for the greater advantage of all. - Errico Malatesta, "Anarchy"|
Covers not only acts done by an official under a State law, but also acts done by an official under any ordinance of a county or municipality of the State, as well as acts done under any regulation issued by any State or County or Municipal official, and even acts done by an official under color of some State or local custom.
To act "under color of state law" means to act beyond the bounds of lawful authority, but in such a manner that the unlawful acts were done while the official was purporting or pretending to act in the performance of his official duties. In other words, the unlawful acts must consist of an abuse or misuse of power which is possessed by the official only because he is an official.A person may be found guilty even though he was not an official or employee of the State, or of any county, city, or other governmental unit if the essential elements of the offense charged have been established and the person was a willful participant with the state or its agents in the doing of such acts.
"Misuse of power, possessed by virtue of state law and made possible only because the wrongdoer is clothed with the authority of state law, is action taken `under color of' state law." United States v. Classic, 313 U.S. 299, 326 (1941)
"Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress . . ." 42 U.S.C. S 1983 (1988)