12:55pm July 22, 2012

Sheriff Joe Arpaio Racial Profiling Suit Underway in Arizona


Last week the civil class action suit against the controversial Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio began. Often referred to as “the Bull Connor of our time,” reports on the patterns of policing in Arizona where Latinos were often singled out including those who are citizens and legal immigrants will now come out in front of a judge and jury. It’s important to keep in mind that this lawsuit is separate from the Department of Justice suit, which makes many of the same allegations.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) are representing the the paintiffs. They are asserting that Arpaio’s officers have based traffic stops on the race of Latinos who were in their vehicles even when there was no probable cause to stop them. A media report from last week said that the case began when a Mexican tourist with a valid visa was stopped by deputies outside a church and detained for nine hours.

The plaintiffs lawyers are arguing that racist letters sent from Maricopa County residents encouraged Sheriff Arpaio to target Latinos. Valeria Fernandez of New America Media reported the following:

“One constituent wrote in a letter that “dark skin” is “the look of the Mexican illegals that are here illegally” and urged Arpaio to “come over to 29th Street/Greenway Parkway area and round them all up.” The area was subsequently targeted several times for immigration sweeps, according to court filings in the case.

A letter, dated May 24, 2008, requested that Arpaio conduct a sweep in the city of Mesa. Arpaio wrote a note on it saying, “I will be going into Mesa,” and sent a copy to Chief Brian Sands, in charge of crime suppression operations. Two sweeps were conducted in that city shortly afterwards.

Another letter, dated July 25, 2008, invited Arpaio to conduct more raids in the area and to specifically target day laborers. The letter reads: “Because of their demeanor, it is obvious (how) to pick out the illegals from the American citizens. I strongly request that you return to Mesa and help rid the city of this irritating problem.””

In addition to these letters, Arpaio’s own statements were used in the plaintiff’s argument including his description of raids “to go after illegals, not the crime first” and “if they look like they came from another country” as being a reason to question immigration status.

The attorney handling Arpaio’s defense is asserting that ethnicity and race play no role in how Arpaio’s office conducts its policing.

This trial is scheduled to end in early August, and Arpaio, who is running for re-election for a sixth term, is expected to testify this coming week.

Beyond the outcome of this trial, it will be interesting to see how this impacts Sheriff Arpaio’s popularity. As of May, he had over $3.4 million in is re-election fund, and he still polls well with more people favoring the job he’s doing as sheriff than those who think he’s doing a poor job. Additionally, Arpaio has continued to do well with his fundraising and pulls in most of his campaign cash from out of state donors.

About the Author

Adriana Maestas
Adriana Maestas is the senior contributing editor of Politic365.com. The ideas and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author, and have complete editorial independence from any Politic365 partners, sponsors, or advertisers. For additional information about Politic365, please visit http://politic365.com/about/.



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  1. [...] Of Unregistered Latino Voters Large Enough To Transform Red States Into …Huffington PostSheriff Joe Arpaio Racial Profiling Suit Underway in ArizonaPolitic365Racial profiling trial begins for Ariz. sheriffThe Associated PressUSA TODAY -New [...]

  2. Miss785

    He is a disgrace to America, the world, and humanity as a whole. How we allow ourselves to be pushed around by arrogant racists in 2012 is beyond me.

    • aytamerican

      Maybe were all sick of pushing #1 for english,having our childrens schools over run by them as well as our healthcare system not to mention our taxpayer burden as far as law enforcement and the cost to house them. The true disgrace is what we have allowed our county to become. Its not racist if its true!

    • dexter60

      Right you are, how any Leftist would hate Americans as if we are the only bigots is terrible; but their arrogance is only surpassed by their ignorance and wllingness for resentment for their failures in the face of so much opportunity and tolerance. It's a crying shame. The criminal stakes his claim to being the victim, is not news.
      Perhaps if we really totally ignore them they will go away for lack of support.
      One way or another Uncle Sam's free-lunch-on-wheels is closing down and 20 million govt 'workers' also out looking for a job. That will close the discussion.

  3. Thevoice

    Sure talk about the raids that were provoked by "racist letters" but do not speak of the success of said raids in identifying illegals in the area. (head count please) This man is doing the work that the federal government refuses to. The open border and free pass migration is costing this country millions in tax revenue and crime, FACT! Take your whiny "this is racist" bs elsewhere. Talk to any person who has legally obtained citizenship in other parts of the country and they will tell you the open door in the southwest is an insult. Thank you Joe!

    • dingorunner

      Rubbish….read for yourself, study for yourself and check the numbers…they are down and not because of Joe's bullying tactics. Sounds like you've been FOXed.

  4. Julian Alien

    Sheriff Joe is an American hero and I hope he has a bronze statue in every city in the U.S.A.When the federal government did not do it's job,his citizens asked him to do something.He responded in the most humane way possible to deter lawbreakers of all kinds and make his jurisdiction safe.He also made my State safer by curbing the northward flow of illegal aliens from his border.Make no mistake,we are being invaded,and not just by Mexico and all the other foreign nationals that pass through our southern borders.Our country is supposedly in a world wide war on terrorists and an open border policy is the number 1 threat to our survival as a sovereign country.I live in Florida where we are quickly slipping into a third world economy thanks to our crappy leaders.Allen West is the best thing we got going,and I thank God for him.

    • Dingorunner

      Well, come and live in Az….the man is old, going senile, filled with hatred and bile and is fast becoming a mini Mugabe. Watch the run up to the election…he and his cronies will whip up the fear mongering, whip up the neo nazis, militia groups etc. He has become a really nasty piece of work.

  5. Arpaio

    racism is cool

  6. surscheler

    I support Sheriff Arpaio his efforts to uphold the law that our president and Dept. of Justice fail to enforce. They should be sued for not upholding the law. The cost of the illegals in Arizona is borne by Arizonans and they are overrun there with illegals. There is nothing wrong with asking someone to present an id-legal or illegal-it is required everywhere else. Sheriff Arpaio is not racist, the majority of the Arizona population are illegal hispanics so it stands to reason they would be stopped more frequently. As a hispanic american, I have no problem with someone stopping me and asking for my id to prove I am here legally. I am asked for id on a daily basis in stores etc.

  7. [...] ruling is the result of a class action lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Mexican American Legal Def…. Attorneys for Arpaio claimed that ethnicity and race did not play a role in how he and his [...]

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