September 3, 2017

The real Joe Arpaio story

Jim Gonzalez, National Institute for Latino Policy-   In the wake of the former Sheriff Joe Arpaio pardon, most media and political commentators have mainly discussed President Trump's disrespect of the conviction rendered by a federal court. Alarmingly, there is very little focus on how Trump's pardon endorses egregious human rights abuses against Latinos committed by Arpaio for decades, which included illegal detentions, humiliation, torture, and wrongful death. 
The Maricopa County Medical examiner found 157 deaths (including 39 suicides) between 1996 to 2015 in Arpaio's lockups and "Tent City" concentration camps -- a suicide rate of 24 percent.  A 2015 investigation by the Phoenix New Times found that "more than 13,000 claims were filed against the Sheriff's Office over mistreatment, abuse, and ultimately death."
Trump's news release about his pardon of criminal Sheriff Joe Arpaio stated: "Throughout his time as Sheriff, Arpaio continued his life's work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration."
Here the Arpaio record of abuse and violence against Latinos that Trump extols with his shameful pardon: 
  • In 2005 Arpaio's department frog-marched 700 prisoners in pink underwear and flip flops while segregating 200 Latino prisoners (70 percent convicted of no crime) into a Tent City circled with electric wire.
  • In 2008 Arpaio bragged that he was operating a "concentration camp."
  • In July 2011 the temperature in Arpaio's Tent City was recorded at 145 degrees.
  • In 2011 the Los Angeles Times reported that  "Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Phoenix-based department repeatedly arrested Latinos illegally, abused them in the county jails and failed to investigate hundreds of sexual assaults,"
  • The same Los Angeles Times story reported on a letter issued by U.S. Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas Perez's (former Labor Secretary and current Chair of the Democratic National Committee) to Arpaio that "described Latinos arrested on unreasonable traffic stops, businesses raided when Latinos gather out front, inmates mocked with racial epithets, and 432 cases of sexual assault and child molestation, often involving Latinos," that "were not properly investigated over a three-year period."
  • In 2012, a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Justice Department stated: [6] "The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and Sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio (Arpaio) have engaged and continue to engage in a pattern or practice of unlawful discriminatory police conduct directed at Latinos."
  • The federal lawsuit further stated:"Latinos in Maricopa County are frequently stopped, detained, and arrested on the basis of race, color, or national origin."
  • It also found the unconstitutional and unlawful detention of Latino drivers and passengers, because of their race, color, or national origin, to determine immigration status, when there is no lawful basis for the detention."
  • and the "unconstitutional and unlawful targeting of Latino workers and illegal detention of Latinos, because of their race, color, or national origin, during worksite raids." 
Furthermore, in 2008 Arpaio, using County Attorney Andrew Thomas as his foil, began a series of investigations and prosecutions against his political opponents, including four retired judges, two sitting county supervisors, and one retired county supervisors. These baseless political persecutions resulted in over $45 million being rewarded to the victims, and County Attorney Thomas being disbarred for misconduct.
In total, it has been estimated that Arpaio has, according to one report, cost "$142 million in court costs because of lawsuits from prisoners who died in his jail, the judges and county officials he charged and sued, journalists who had been targeted by his office, and immigrants unlawfully detained." 

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