Link to recording of today’s call: http://ndlon.org/docs/2011arpaio.mp3
Phoenix, AZ- Yesterday, the United States Department of Justice released a scathing report, confirming the “discriminatory policing practices” that Sheriff Joe Arpaio has used to terrorize the Latino community of Maricopa County for years and prompting the Department of Homeland Security to terminate the Sheriff’s 287(g) agreement and restrict his access to the controversial S-Comm program,
On a press call today, national and local leaders reacted to the reports findings, commending the investigation as a step towards serving the Latino community with the justice they so long deserve.
According to U.S. Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), “Sheriff Arpaio believes physical appearance is probable cause to stop and question individuals about their immigration status. Even after a Department of Justice investigation has told him otherwise, he continues to believe there’s no issue here. There’s nothing fair, equal or constitutional about racial profiling. His obsessive, politically motivated assault on Hispanics has destroyed public trust in his office and put innocent lives in danger. Federal law enforcement officials are right to name his failed tenure for what it is, and I hope he takes the honorable route by resigning immediately.”
DOJ’s announcement is no surprise to the Latino community. Arpaio has a long history of extreme enforcement tactics and discriminatory behavior. Mary Rose Wilcox, Maricopa County Supervisor, saw firsthand the type of suffering in the Latino community inflicted by Arpaio’s abusive practices. “A line in the report that stands out above others is that for the past four years, the Sheriff’s department has treated all Latinos as if they were undocumented. It is a sobering statement that shows how the Sheriff used anti-immigrant sentiment as a pretext to violate the civil rights of our County’s residents. For three years our community has pounded the doors of elected officials to let them know this must stop. My dream is for Sheriff Arpaio to resign or be kicked out of office and for his office to be taken into receivership. Still, we feel relief today because the truth has been told about this Sheriff in a manner that cannot be denied.”
Speakers also lifted up Arpaio’s case as an example of the disastrous consequences of DHS policies that trample on the rights of entire communities.
Salvador Reza, Phoenix Civil Rights Leader whose wrongful arrest was cited in the DOJ report, explained, “We are happy to see Janet Napolitano’s actions yesterday but I’d like to caution that it’s not over. The longer Arpaio is not under receivership or indicted, the longer this will continue as a political football locally and nationally. This should be a wakeup call to DHS and for Sheriffs across the country who are using federal immigration programs to emulate Arpaio.”
Randy Parraz, Co-Founder, President of Citizens for a Better Arizona, added, “Yesterday’s report by the DOJ validates many of the abusive practices and policies that we have been experiencing as Latinos and critics of Sheriff Arpaio. We, Citizens for a Better Arizona, will continue to organize across the county to create the pressure needed to force Sheriff Arpaio to resign.”
According to Arturo Venegas, Director of the Law Enforcement Engagement Initiative, “Every day that Arpaio focused on terrorizing immigrant and Latino communities while serious criminals roamed the streets of Maricopa County made other law enforcement officials’ jobs harder across the nation. The Department of Homeland Security should be commended for limiting its cooperation with Arpaio, but until the racial profiling and aggressive tactics he championed are no longer encouraged by state laws like Alabama’s or tacitly condoned by federal programs like Se Communities, we have not yet eradicated his legacy of fear. Unfortunately, Arpaio has flaunted his unconstitutional tactics with such vigor that, nothing short of a federal consent decree will get him to comply DOJ requests and change his behavior.”
According to Sarahi Uribe, National Campaign Coordinator, National Day Laborer’s Organizing Network, “The DOJ report is what compelled the Department of Homeland Security to do what it should have done on former Arizona Governor Napolitano’s first day on the job as head of DHS. It stripped him of his badge when it comes to immigration enforcement. Now we should learn the lessons from Arizona and deal not just with this Sheriff but with the implications of this report on a national level.”