As I anticipated in yesterday's blog post, the Arizona ACLU today had a press conference at their offices with father-son Julian and Julio Mora present, announcing a lawsuit on their behalf against Sheriff Joe and other members of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.
The incident at issue occurred during the MCSO's February raid of county contractor Handyman Maintenance, Inc. Both Julian Mora, 66, and his son Julio,19, were driving towards HMI in Phoenix when two MCSO SUVs cut them off 100 yards from the business where the elder Mora worked. MCSO deputies zip-tied both men, transported them to the worksite and made them wait for three hours, during which time they were denied access to the bathroom.
Julio Mora is an American citizen, and his father Julian is a legal permanent resident. Both live in Avondale.
"Julian explained that he has always been one to follow the law," stated ACLU of Arizona Executive Director Alessandra Soler Meetze, translating for Mora senior. "He felt targeted. He felt persecuted, He felt humiliated."
His son Julio, who was at the press conference with his wife Victoria and their two-month-old daughter Cecilia, said that he's still wary of the MCSO profiling him or targeting him for possible retaliation.
"Every time you go to a friend's house, you've got to look over your shoulder," said Julio, who was simply taking his father to work that day in February when they were both unlawfully detained. "I don't feel right looking over my shoulder all the time."
(Back in April, Mora spoke of his experience before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee in Washington, D.C. during a hearing on the 287(g) program and Joe Arpaio.)
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
The complaint, which is seeking unspecified damages, states that,"The Moras were effectively taken prisoner by armed MCSO personnel without any explanation for their arrest." Aside from naming Arpaio, it also specifically names Captain Ray Jones, Commander of the Enforcement Support Division, and Lieutenant Joe Sousa, head of the Human Smuggling Unit within the Enforcement Support Division.
Sousa is infamous for participating in an MCSO press conference where he and other deputies, such as Sgt. Bret Palmer, made invidious comments towards public officials, saying they were "sick and tired" of being accused of racial profiling and other misdeeds.
Over on Arpaio's Twitter page, the sheriff responded to information about the lawsuit saying first that, "Rumor has it, I am being sued by ACLU again for breaking up immigrant families," and later, "Interesting I have never been sued for breaking up families of citizens that I have arrested."
These comments are so befuddled and inaccurate that I'm beginning to believe Arpaio actually does his own Twitter instead of passing it off to a flunky to handle. You're not being sued for breaking up families, Joe, though you are guilty of that in other instances. You're being sued because your department violated the civil rights of these two men. Next time, do yourself a favor and ask your PR gun moll Lisa Allen what you're supposed to say on your infantile Twitter page.