Zip-Tied at 12: A Permanent Resident and His U.S. Citizen Son Are Bound by the MCSO for Being Brown and Living Next to a Drop House
Editor's note: This is one of a group of individual accounts of racial profiling by Sheriff Joe Arpaio's forces.
Fili Gaucin is a bright 12-year old, an American citizen born in this country who, like most boys his age, likes to play video games and watch TV.
In fact, Fili, on a break from school at the time, was watching TV one day in May as the MCSO was raiding a drop house next to his home.
The drop house was actually the back part of a duplex, and Fili and his family lived in the front part — a separate residence in central Phoenix.
Fili's dad, who is also named Fili Gaucin, was in the kitchen cooking pork chops when the raid happened. Gaucin works nights as a singer in a Latin band. His wife, Cecilia, works days for the Bose Corporation.
Papa Gaucin is a legal permanent resident. Cecilia Gaucin is an American citizen, like her son. She was born and bred in Phoenix. The family had lived in the duplex for about a year and say they had heard nothing suspicious coming from next door.
In any case, deputies knocked on the Gaucins' door. Fili Senior let them come in and search the premises. After going through all the rooms, the deputies asked Gaucin to follow them outside. They asked him if he knew what had been going on in the other half of the duplex. He told them no.
Drop houses are, of course, notoriously quiet places. How many times have you seen neighbors of drop houses telling TV news reporters that they had no idea the house was occupied by scores of illegal aliens? Gaucin was no different.
However, the deputies were suspicious of Gaucin, who speaks only Spanish. Even though he had his green card with him, they zip-tied his hands and made him sit on the ground with the 26 suspects the deputies were removing from the other side of the duplex.
Not content with having a legal permanent resident in custody, the deputies zip-tied Gaucin's sons' hands behind his back and made him sit next to his dad. The boy said the deputies were wearing body armor and carrying assault rifles. One man had what Fili Senior describes as a bazooka.
"I was curious [about what was going on]," he says. "Was there gonna be a gunfight or something? What were they trying to do, [start] World War III?"
The elder Gaucin was upset that his young son had to witness the MCSO raid and that he could do nothing to keep his son from being treated as a criminal.
Father and son were kept in restraints for about an hour before being released by the MCSO with no explanation, much less an apology.
Cecilia Gaucin arrived home before her husband and son were released. Angered by their treatment and that she was not allowed to see her husband and son, she harangued deputies at the scene.
"I told them, 'Why don't you look at his green card? My son was born here. He doesn't even know any Spanish,'" '" she recalls telling the deputies.
The Gaucins feel things would have been different if they were not Hispanic. Indeed, it's difficult to imagine MCSO deputies zip-tying two Caucasians under the same circumstances.
The Gaucins have gone on with their lives, but their story illustrates one simple fact: To the MCSO, all Hispanics are suspected of being illegal aliens until proved otherwise.
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