Friday, December 4, 2020

Feds Say Arpaio Discriminated Against Latinos

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office in Arizona and Sheriff Joe Arpaio routinely discriminated against Latinos, including racial profiling during routine traffic stops and treating legal residents as criminals, the U.S. Department of Justice said Thursday.

The findings are part of a 3 ½-year investigation that began in 2008 after numerous complaints alleged sheriff’s deputies were unfairly targeting Latinos.  Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez told a news conference that the problem in the Sheriff’s Office is that it “breeds a culture of disregard for the constitution.”

The Justice Department said it would sue the Sheriff’s Office under the Civil Rights Act if it does agree to voluntarily cooperate with federal officials by Jan. 4 to reach a court-enforceable agreement to stop the unconstitutional practices.

“MCSO is broken in a number of critical respects,” Perez said.

The investigation also found that the Sheriff’s human smuggling and work-site enforcement units committed some of the most egregious violations.  Perez addressed the Sheriff’s employees directly in his remarks, telling them he would like to work together to reach a solution.

“These findings are not meant to impugne your character,” Perez said. “Our goal is to make your job easier and more rewarding and we want to hear your views about how to do just that.”

Other civil rights violations the Justice Department found include that Spanish-speaking inmates often faced punitive action because they could not speak or understand English and were forced to fill out legal forms in a language they did not understand.  Community activists who spoke out against such practices also faced retaliation by Arpaio and his employees.

“It is clear to me that this community is divided and it is time to heal,” Perez added.

The Times and Democrat
AZ Central