Like a lot of anti-Arpaio activists in town, videographer Dennis Gilman has been helping the U.S. Department of Justice gather evidence of abuse of power and racial profiling by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office. He's provided them with a massive amount of video that he and others have culled while legally observing Sheriff Joe Arpaio's deputies in the field. But like many who've been patiently waiting for the feds to act, he's fed up with their dithering.
Hence the following letter, e-mailed to three DOJ investigators: Earl Saunders, Sarah Lopez, and Je Yon Jung. No doubt any direct legal action against Arpaio and the MCSO would have to be approved from on high, perhaps by Attorney General Eric Holder himself. Still, Gilman's timely, eloquent expression of frustration might filter up. And since he was so good as to share it with me, I figure I might as well help him raise a red flag.
Waiting for the feds to do something about the corruption and gross civil rights violations here in Mari-Kafka County makes you feel like Estragon and Vladimir in Waiting for Godot. If the feds can't act here, what's the point of having a Department of Justice? Might as well can all of those lawyers, close its doors, and give the American people their money back.
Dear Department of Justice,
I cannot express how disappointed people I speak with are and how disillusioned I have become.
What once was hope that human rights would be a concern in this County has turned into a forgotten memory.
I've run out of the ability to defend the DOJ any longer. It's not like we expected miracles. We know you are only an agency made of people. But what could you realistically expect from us? How much do we have to take?
I honestly do not know what to tell people who risked their safety when they came forward to speak with you only to be harassed by MCSO for doing so the very next day. Some are angry, some have lost trust in me or others who encouraged them. Many are simply afraid and hide. Many regret ever speaking up.
Should we forget about them? How many more broken arms, women torn from their children, deaths in Arpaio's Jails will it take? Should we care? They are just poor people. They have no money or power. Many are used to the abuse. They will never cost you your careers.
What about the many activists found innocent but jailed anyway? Should we just forget that? Will it matter if it's 1000? Not likely. Surely you can't be concerned about them, the members of the media or only one ACLU attorney? Of course it's perfectly normal to parade men in pink underwear on TV, break women's arms and jaws. No concerns here.
As things get worse (and they will) should we just forget all about it and learn to just keep our mouths shut and accept it?
Former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias states there is more than enough evidence. But what could he possibly know?
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