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21st Century Bull Connor: Shameless Intransigence

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This is from the "Have They No Shame?" department. For the past couple of months I've been talking about the abuses going on in Maricopa County, Arizona (that's where the fine city of Phoenix is located) at the hands of the local sheriff there, Joe Arpaio.

Arpaio's officers have arrested people who disagree with his policies just for clapping. In the face of Sheriff Arpaio's abuses, including police brutality, forced family separation, racial profiling, slow emergency response times, unjustified arrests, inmate abuses and more, ACORN members and allied community groups recently delivered a petition to Congress asking for an investigation of Arpaio, and then we sent petitions to the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security.

Congress has responded. So has the Justice Department.

So what was his response? To take a long hard look at these policies and perhaps focus on reducing crime rather than deciding who is and who isn't an American based on their skin color or first language?


It was intransigence. He sent around a press release stating that he is "even more determined even as criticism mounts." This is from a sheriff facing more than 2,700 lawsuits, many citing civil rights violations.

Arizona ACORN members have been protesting his brutal police tactics, most shockingly his recent publicity stunt of separating out 200 inmates from the county jail who are undocumented immigrants and marching them in chains to a separate "tent city" surrounded by an electric fence.

But, on March 10, Acting Assistant Atty. Gen. Loretta King sent a letter to Sheriff Arpaio informing him that the Justice Department was initiating an investigation of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO).

The very next day, U.S. House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.), along with three other members of the House Judiciary Committee - Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Immigration; Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Rights; and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security - announced that they will conduct a Congressional hearing into Sheriff Arpaio's alleged civil rights abuses.

These four representatives also have sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, asking that her office investigate Arpaio's actions too. Secretary Napolitano's office has yet to call for an investigation.

That's where you come in. We need to ask her to take a stand, the same way that Attorney General Eric Holder has and the Congressfolk listed above have.

This is why she has juice here: Sheriff Arpaio's office boasts the largest "287(g)" agreement with DHS. This agreement outsources enforcement of federal immigration laws to local policing organizations. Sheriff Arpaio has 160 officers on the project but none chasing the 70,000+ outstanding warrants in the County.

Under this agreement, Sheriff Arpaio and his officers may demand to see the papers of anyone they apprehend for any violation, even something as small as a broken tail light.

If you don't have the right papers with you, you can be arrested and detained without charge for up to 10 days, even if you are a US citizen. I mean, who carries their birth certificate with them to the store?

Join us in writing to Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano asking that DHS:

1. Stop the raids in Maricopa County.
2. Suspend Sheriff Arpaio's 287(g) agreement.

Thousands of immigrant families are living in terror under Sheriff Arpaio's reign. We can't let his racist policing continue. Please take action!