“I’m not surprised Trump pardoned racial profiler Arpaio. White Nationalists, KKK, & Duke celebrated Trump’s election b/c he is one of them!” tweeted Rep. Maxine Waters the morning after Donald Trump awarded his first pardon to Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Arpaio styled himself as “America’s toughest Sheriff” and served in the job as the elected Sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., from 1993 to January 2017.
In 2016, Trump’s campaign rhetoric mirrored the way Arpaio practiced law enforcement. Trump constantly spoke of immigrants from Mexico as a source of crime and problems. One of Trump’s most repeated campaign promises was to “build a wall” between Mexico and the U.S.
That Trump pardoned Arpaio is particularly noteworthy because the move solidifies Trump support for racial profiling as long as it’s done targeting minorities, specifically immigrants from Mexico. Reaction was swift.
“It isn’t easy to find a convicted, notorious racist, but Trump found him and pardoned him. Sheriff Arpaio chose to ignore the law and judgements by federal courts. He chose to use race and ethnicity as a pretext to deprive people of their rights. He shredded the Constitution and became a celebrity for Fox News, white supremacists and the President,” wrote Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) in a blistering statement on the night of August 25.
“Nobody believed the President when he said he would be the ‘Law and Order’ President and he has proven us all right. Joe Arpaio should serve a very, very long time for his crimes, but in him, Trump finds a kindred spirit. Both men are not ashamed to use overt appeals to racism to glorify themselves and both are not ashamed of abusing public office if it enhances their personal brand. This is a sad chapter even by the standards of the tragic saga of Trump,” Gutierrez concluded.
“For decades, Arpaio used fear, cruelty and tyranny to advance his own political ambitions at the deaths and suffering of countless people of color. Put simply, Arpaio is a remorseless criminal who took the law into his own hands and enacted racist policing policies. He betrayed his oaths as a police officer to protect and serve the people of his community. Arpaio should not have been pardoned,” wrote the NAACP in a statement on the night of the pardon.
To make matters even more questionable, Trump pardoned Arpaio on a Friday evening as four other news stories were breaking including a major hurricane making landfall in Texas and new activity in the Russia investigation on Trump and his closest associates.