Feathered Bastard

Al Sharpton: Joe Arpaio, "Arrogant," Racial Profiling a "National Disgrace"

Phoenix videographer Dennis Gilman was on hand for the action outside the Sandra Day O'Connor U.S. Court, following Friday's hearing before federal Judge G. Murray Snow in the ACLU's big racial profiling case Melendres v. Arpaio.

See Also: Joe Arpaio B-Day Bomb: Judge Wants Monitor in Melendres

He caught some great footage of the Reverend Al Sharpton, in town for a speaking event, who stopped by to sit next to Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox and watch the hearing. Afterward, he praised both Wilcox and all of the activists for making this day happen.

"To hear the judge talk about a monitor, to talk about a consent decree, I think shows a real breakthrough," said Sharpton. "And I think the credit must be given to those nameless, faceless activists that kept marching, against being ridiculed and laughed at.

"I wanted to be here with [Wilcox] today to say that we think this is a job well done. But we're going to wait until it's all over before we pop the champagne bottles."

Rev. Al Sharpton praises the activists, without whom, there would be no Melendres case

The longtime crusader for civil rights referred to racial profiling as a "national disgrace." He recalled coming to Phoenix to march with Wilcox and confront Arpaio face-to-face.

"I can think of, over the last several years, coming here, marching with them, and Sheriff Arpaio being very arrogant, as he continued this kind of behavior," said Sharpton.

Supervisor Wilcox gives her take on today's hearing in Melendres

Gilman also caught Supervisor Wilcox's comments to the media. Wilcox said she was "pleased" with the hearing and praised "a very strong statement by the judge," calling it "a very, very good day."

Asked about the baby steps the MCSO has already taken to end racial profiling, like taking ads for Arpaio's now-defunct illegal immigration hotline off MCSO vans, she said it was a good start, but not enough.

"I'm still seeing vans that say `illegal immigration,'" she said. "A lot has to be done...that is why it's so important that the judge said [to the MCSO's attorney], `I hear you, but I still want a monitor to make sure that they're done.'"

Damn straight, Supervisor.

This ain't over by a longshot, and the MCSO and Arpaio cannot be allowed to slither off the hook when it comes to the mess they've caused by taking their agency back in time for a taste of the dark days of segregation, when racist law-enforcement was called "good police work."

People should be outraged that Wilcox, the only politician, Latino or otherwise, present in court today, who knows this case like the back of her hand, is being excluded from the Board of Supervisors' executive sessions on Melendres by County Attorney Bill Montgomery.

And spare me the lies about her having a conflict of interest. She does not benefit financially from Melendres. No conflict exists.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons