The federal government issued a harsh report recently that illustrates the scope of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s civil rights violations against Arizona Hispanics. It includes a history of racial profiling and discrimination, emphasizing the regular raids that Arpaio conducts to find illegals. The investigation has been going on for three years according to the Associated Press, and exposes a culture of bias that starts with the Sheriff and works its way down through the agency.
Thomas Perez, head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division says that Arpaio stimulates this environment of hostility and bias by sending “racially charged letters” to top aides and even saved them. DOJ’s expert on racial profiling said, “it’s the most egregious case of racial profiling in the nation that he has seen or reviewed in professional literature.” As an example here is an excerpt from the report:
“The investigation found a number of instances in which “crime suppression activities” were initiated on complaints that ‘described no criminal activity, but rather referred, for instance, to individuals with ‘dark skin’ congregating in one area, or the individuals speaking Spanish at a local business.’”
And then there’s Arpaio’s botched sex crime investigations where 432 cases had fallen through the cracks and were not investigated. A now-retired detective left a “poor paperwork trail” which resulted in these unprosecuted sex crime cases. The Sheriff tried his usual cover-up strategy by saying Phoenix police had a much larger caseload of similar cases. Phoenix police countered that, unlike Arpaio’s inaction, they immediately assigned a task force to the issue.
The Sheriff’s latest headache is a Mexican woman, an inmate in the county jail, who claims sheriff’s officers mistreated her during and after a pregnancy which included shackling her while in labor and following a Caesarean delivery. Miriam Mendiola-Martinez has filed suit against the Sheriff, his agency and deputies, which follows right on the heels of the federal report. The Arizona Dept. of Corrections, the U.S. Marshall’s Service and the FBI have eliminated the practice of using shackles on pregnant women.
But that’s still not all. On the day before Christmas, a judge ruled that Sheriff Joe Arpaio could no longer detain people for being in the country illegally. The ruling is a direct result of a 2007 lawsuit against Arpaio and his officers of racially profiling Latinos in traffic stops that occurred during Arpaio’s infamous immigration sweeps. At the same time the judge sanctioned the Sheriff for destroying documents related to the case.
The feds report had a number of other interesting revelations. It found that Arpaio and his staff had tried to silence people speaking out against him and the department. Hispanics are 4 to 9 times more likely to be detained in traffic stops than non-Hispanics. From 2006 to 2009, 20 percent of traffic stops handled by Arpaio’s immigrant smuggling squad were done without reasonable suspicion and involved almost 100 percent Latinos. Deputies were encouraged to make high-volume traffic stops in “targeted” locations, often arresting Hispanics who were in the country legally. And there’s much more.
Another quote from the report”
“Investigators believe the sheriff’s office followed a pattern or practice of unconstitutional treatment of Hispanics both inside the jails and in traffic stops, especially by the sheriff’s human smuggling and work-site enforcement units.”
The Tucson Citizen newspaper commented: “Arpaio is equivalent to ‘Bull’ Connor and our Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is equivalent to Alabama’s George Wallace.” “Bull” Connor was the bigoted Birmingham, Alabama Commissioner of Public Safety with control over a police force that directed the use of fire hoses, and police attack dogs against peaceful demonstrators, including children. George Wallace was the Governor of Alabama and an avid pro-segregationist. Both are very accurate comparisons to the people who run the state of Arizona.
But wait, that’s still not all. Randy Parraz, president of Citizens for a BetterArizona, the guy who was responsible for removing racist Arizona State Sen. Russell Pearce from office in a recall election, is asking the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to pass a resolution to dump Arpaio. Parraz has said in the past that he might consider a recall for Joe Arpaio as well as Arizona’s bogus Gov. Jan Brewer.
Unfortunately Arizona has all of a sudden discovered it is in the hands of a gang of bigoted, extreme conservatives that have almost brought the state to its knees. Being the great place Arizona is, the question is will its people find their way once again and return to a sane environment to live and visit.