Saturday, January 26, 2008

Racist Sheriff protested in Southern Arizona

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Minutemen dragnet for people of color

Article and photos by Brenda Norrell

TUCSON -- Protesters sent a loud message to Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio today to "Go Home!" and take his practices of racism, xenophobia and vigilante patrols with him.Protesting outside the Sheraton, where Arpaio was the speaker at the Pima County Republican Women's Club luncheon, border rights activists and other local residents called for an end to the reign of Arpaio's repression and lawlessness.
Arpaio's practice of racial targeting of people of color and the addition of Minutemen to patrols were two of the reasons that Pima County residents sent a loud message to Arpaio today. Tucson is located in Pima County, southeast of Phoenix and Maricopa County where Arpaio carries out his vigilante raids.Derechos Humanos/CoaliciĆ³n de Derechos Humanos delivered a letter to Pima County Republican Women's Club.
"As members of the Pima County community, we are here today to question your decision to invite Sheriff Joe Arpaio to speak at your event. As you should be aware, Sheriff Arpaio bears much responsibility for the extremely volatile racial atmosphere in Phoenix and its outlying areas.
"We cannot permit this environment in Pima County, and are shocked that you would proudly applaud the efforts of the self proclaimed 'America’s Toughest Sheriff' on your website.
"During his tenure, Sheriff Arpaio has engaged the Arizona taxpayer, and the rest of the state of Arizona, in enforcement and political measures that have not only created great racial divisions, but have cost Maricopa County more than $41 million dollars in court fees, lawsuits, attorneys’ fees, settlements, judgments, photographs of himself, videos of himself, and maintaining his personal public relations staff.
"Did you know that Sheriff Arpaio has arrested hundreds of workers, and together with Andrew Thomas, has charged mothers and fathers, survivors of U.S. and global economic policies with being co-conspirators to their own smuggling, resulting in hundreds of felony convictions and prison time at taxpayer expense?
"Did you know that Sheriff Arpaio has created private posses, where he has permitted Minutemen to join his sheriff deputies in wholesale racial profiling and repression, resulting in an explosive situation in Phoenix neighborhoods?
"Did you know that Sheriff Arpaio has been involved in the violation of the constitutional rights of the readers of the Phoenix New Times by demanding the identity of everyone who had visited the paper’s website and arresting the newspaper’s leaders when they publicized what had happened?
"Sheriff Joe Arpaio is not welcome in the city of Tucson, where many of us continue to work for a community that is diverse, respectful, and appreciative of each other’s differences. We will not permit hatred and xenophobia in our community of Tucson. We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Phoenix who must stand up for human rights on a daily basis."
Meanwhile, immigrant rights attorney Antonio Bustamante is building a racial profiling case against Arpaio. Bustamante is collecting first-hand accounts from witnesses who state that they have been unfairly stopped and arrested by Arpaio's deputies.
Michael Lacey, creator of Phoenix New Times, spent a night in jail in October after exposing Arpaio's "fishing expedition" which involved a grand jury seeking a list of New Times' online readers and even their shopping habits.

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