The Tyrannical Pardon Of Arpaio

This abuse of executive power must stop.
08/27/2017 11:35 am ET Updated Aug 28, 2017
ROBYN BECK via Getty Images

In Washington, the president of the United States has engaged in tyranny. His presidential pardon of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is both a slap in the face to the thousands of Latinos who were racially profiled in Arizona and an unbridled rejection of the role of our federal courts to curb unconstitutional behavior.

Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson all had to face down bigots who defied the rule of law and our federal courts. Our African-American brothers and sisters defied Jim Crow and courageously stood up for justice. It took decades for the federal government to protect them in their pursuit of racial integration but when the courts finally issued injunctions to uphold the rule of law, the executive branch complied.

In Arizona, thousands of Latinos were unconstitutionally profiled, citizens and noncitizens alike. The sheriff insisted on humiliating them by placing them in “concentration camps” in the open sun wearing pink underwear. They lived in a state of fear. They too fought back in the courts and in the voting booth. Last November when the Electoral College voted for Trump the good people of Maricopa County voted out Sheriff Arpaio. And yet his nativist legacy of executive defiance, excessive policing, and inhumane treatment of prisoners lived on, until the federal courts came in to curb some of his egregious behavior.

Now President Trump has placed Arpaio above the law. No review by the Department of Justice’s Office of Pardons. No waiting period.

Just executive fiat.

Heavily armed white supremacists can march freely and spew hate in Charlottesville and the president equivocates because it’s politically expedient. Armed law enforcement can engage in nativist profiling in Arizona and the president pardons because it’s politically expedient.

Before and after he entered the White House, Trump had repeatedly shown disdain for the federal courts by insulting Judge Gonzalo Curiel’s qualifications and blasting the courts that ruled against his illegal Muslim ban. He has now signaled his willingness to circumvent the constitutional checks on unbridled executive power.

This is tyranny.

We commit our resolve to attack the racial profiling of our community. And we stand with all other Americans who have also been targeted unconstitutionally.

This abuse of executive power must stop.

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