No, No, Janet

When Correa said his papers were at home, he was promptly arrested and taken to jail, where he remained until his brother arrived with his green card.

Catalina Veloz was born at St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix, and is a citizen of the United States.

On July 29, 1997, Veloz was driving her vehicle in Chandler when a police officer pulled her over and asked, in Spanish, to see her immigration papers.

"When Ms. Veloz informed the Chandler Police Officer in Spanish that she was born in Phoenix, Arizona, he asked her what school she had attended, to which Ms. Veloz replied, 'Mountain View.'

"The Chandler Police Officer continued to demand that Ms. Veloz produce immigration papers. When she was unable to produce them, he opened her car door, pulled her out of the car, turned her around, and put her in handcuffs."

Although Veloz was not taken to the police station, her handling was rough--a stitched wound on her leg from surgery was torn open.

The constitutional violations committed during the roundup are numerous. It is illegal for the police to roust people simply because they look like Mexicans. It is illegal for law enforcement to bang on your door at all hours of the night simply because you have brown skin.

The City of Chandler investigated and cleared itself of any wrongdoing. But the attorney general's lengthy probe concluded that "the Chandler Police Department and INS/Border Patrol violated the Constitutional right of American citizens and legal residents to equal protection and to be free from unlawful searches and seizures."

Janet Napolitano appeared before a minority bar association, Los Abrigados, last week looking for votes by extolling her record on civil rights.

Stephen Montoya challenged her for doing nothing following the Chandler raids.

For the first time in the 15 months since the Chandler raid, Napolitano finally criticized the roundup publicly. She defended her behavior, claiming that she worked quietly behind the scenes by alerting the FBI as well as federal civil rights officials of the Chandler dragnet. Her colleagues at the Justice Department apparently were not overwhelmed with the political capital expended by Napolitano. No civil rights investigation ensued.

Napolitano admitted that she didn't speak out on the issue but dismissed the thought that she should. Then she attacked Montoya.

"Where were you when it happened? You never called me. Did you want me to say something then? I never heard from you."

Following this anticipated confrontation, Napolitano's campaign manager, Mario Diaz, approached Montoya and slapped him with a letter. The note was from a former client of Montoya's. The ex-client and her husband were vividly upset with Montoya and they had shared their thoughts with Napolitano.

This tactic by Napolitano's campaign manager was a sleazy threat. She had appeared before a minority bar association to talk about her track record with minorities, and when she was challenged, Diaz threatened Montoya.

"They were prepared to turn this into a personal attack," said an astounded Montoya.

Reached by phone, Diaz denied that there was anything heavy-handed in his approach.

"I don't have an intimidating bone in my body," said Diaz. "I just gave him the letter as a professional courtesy."

Napolitano wants it both ways. When Joe Arpaio, the most popular politician in Arizona, is the subject of a federal lawsuit for his medieval treatment of prisoners, she is more than happy to take to the microphones to provide cover for the popular sheriff. But when Latinos are rounded up in Chandler like animals at a rodeo, then it is time for behind-the-scenes diplomacy.

Don't tell me about Anita Hill. I don't relish a prosecutor who is morally autistic.

The documented brutalization of the prisoners in Joe Arpaio's jails and the appalling roundup of Chandler's Latino population are the two most outrageous civil rights scandals in Arizona's recent history.

What does it take for Janet Napolitano to stand up?
A black pubic hair on a red Coke can?

Contact Michael Lacey at his online address:

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