By Griselda Nevarez, VOXXI
Among the governors, the members of Congress, the local politicians and other party leaders speaking at the Republican National Convention this year will be one of the nation’s most sought-after Republican speakers: The self-proclaimed America’s toughest sheriff.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is scheduled to address a large audience of Republican National Convention delegates from western states at a special reception on August 30th. The event is invitation-only.
Tom Morrissey, chairman of the Arizona Republican Party, said in a statement Monday that Arpaio — who is awaiting judgement on accusations that his sweeps policies lead to widespread racial profiling — is a former member of the Electoral College representing Arizona. He described the Sheriff as “a good friend and a great Republican” who is “wildly popular not just in Maricopa County but throughout the state and the country.”
“He’s done a lot for the Republican Party already and we’re overjoyed that as always he is willing to join us as we visit some of our ‘fellow elephants’ while in Tampa,” Morrissey added.
The Republican National Convention will run from Aug. 27-30 in Tampa, Florida.
Arpaio was recently in trial defending his office against allegations of racial profiling and discrimination of Latinos.
During the seven-day trial that ended earlier this month, four of the five Latino residents from Arizona who filed the class action lawsuit told U.S. District Judge Murray Snow that they were racially profiled by Arpaio’s deputies during traffic stops. Some also claimed they were subjected to unlawful search and seizures.
But attorneys representing Arpaio and his office said in their closing arguments that the plaintiffs “have not proven that the defendants had, or have, a policy, pattern, or practice that was motivated by an intentionally discriminatory purpose.”
The judge has yet to rule. The trial is seen as a preview of the U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit against the Sheriff’s office. Though both lawsuits overlap, the DOJ case is broader in scope because it includes other claims, such as discrimination against Latinos in the jail system.
Related on HuffPost:
Maricopa County Employees Call Latinos Derogatory Names
Jail employees frequently refer to Latinos as "wetbacks," "Mexican bitches," and "stupid Mexicans," according to the lawsuit. An email that included a photography of a Chihahua dressed in swimming gear with the caption "A Rare Photo of a Mexican Navy Seal" was widely distributed by sheriff's office supervisors.
Officers Mistreat Latinos In Routine Traffic Enforcement
The lawsuit recounts how a Latina woman who was five-months pregnant and a U.S. citizen was stopped as she pulled into the driveway. "After she exited her car, the officer then insisted that she sit on the hood of the car. When she refused, the officer grabbed her arms, puled them behind her back, and slammed her, stomach first, into the vehicle three times. He then dragged her to the patrol car and shoved her into the backseat," reads the complaint. She was cited for failure to provide identification, which was later changed to failure to provide proof of insurance. The issue was resolved when the woman proved she had insurance to a court. In yet another case, two officers followed a Latina U.S. citizen a quarter of a mile to her home without flashing their lights. When she arrived home, they insisted that she stay in the car. The reason for the stop was a "non-functioning license plate light." After she tried to enter her home, officers took her to the ground, kneed her in the back and handcuffed her. She was brought to a Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) substation and cited for "disorderly conduct," which was later dismissed, according to the lawsuit.
Latinos Are Indiscriminately Detained In Immigration Raids
A Latina born in the United States was taken into custody for four hours in a raid to determine her immigration status. Arpaio was quoted in response, "That's just normal police work. You sometimes take people in for probable cause for questioning and they're released." The suit notes that the reason for her detainment -- being Latina and present during a raid -- were insufficient.
Arpaio And MCSO Staff Foster Discrimination Against Latinos
Arpaio received a letter reading, "If you have dark skin, then you have dark skin. Unfortunately, that is the look of the Mexican illegals who are here illegally. ... I'm begging you to come over ... and round them all up." The sheriff labeled this as "intelligence" and forwarded to his deputy chief of enforcement operations for someone to "handle this." Upon receiving a letter backing the policy of "stopping Mexicans to make sure they are legal," he sent a letter of appreciation to the authors and kept three copies for himself, according to the lawsuit. An email circulated among MCSO staff had an image of a fake driver's license from "Mexifornia" and listed the driver's class as "illegal alien."
MCSO Employees Fail To Provide Assistance To Prisoners With Limited English
The failure to provide adequate language assistance caused some female Latina prisoners to remain with sheets or pants soiled from menstruation, alleges the suit. Others have allegedly been put in solitary confinement for "extended periods of time" for not understanding a command in English.
MCSO Arrests Arpaio Critics Expressing Their First Amendment Rights
The suit claims on multiple occasions that people were arrested for merely applauding against the office's immigration policies. The judge presiding over the case of the arrestees found that the deputy who made the arrest "believes it is his role to make uncomfortable anyone who express[es] views that disagree with the sheriff" and that he had "trampled" over the First Amendment. The court acquitted them.