Arpaio Corruption: The Feds Have Spoken, But Justice Won't Be Served Until the Sheriff's Indicted

Page 2 of 3

And almost all HSU stops were of Latinos.

The DOJ also picked up on Arpaio himself "promoting a culture of bias in his organization" and communicating to his underlings that "biased policing would not only be tolerated, but encouraged."

Indeed, for a 22-page document, the DOJ covered much ground. For proof of the sheriff's "culture of bias," it recounted blatantly bigoted e-mails sent around the MCSO, with crude depictions of drunken Mexicans and ethnic stereotypes that would warm the hearts of Klansmen.

I reported on these in April of this year, when they were released as part of the discovery in the big ACLU racial-profiling lawsuit against the MCSO, Melendres v. Arpaio ("Joe Arpaio Admits Racial Profiling," April 30).

Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for December 22, and judging from a recent order to both parties, U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow does not seem favorably inclined toward the MCSO, primarily because deputies destroyed countless documents long sought by the plaintiffs.

The DOJ also commented on letters to Arpaio from his bigoted followers, some stupidly complaining of Spanish speakers at a McDonald's in Sun City. Arpaio improperly used such scribblings from local yahoos as the rationale for Hispanic-hunting sweeps and immigration raids on businesses.

Though the DOJ's info on the bigoted letters to Arpaio came from Melendres, I had detailed in a 2009 cover story the ties between right-wing extremists and Arpaio, including neo-Nazis and near-insane nativists ("Ja, Joe," May 14, 2009).

In that piece, I told how Arpaio allowed Minutemen and nativists into command centers for his sweeps. He gave neo-Nazis intelligence on protesters. And he used a petition circulated by devout Mexican hater and convicted public urinator "Buffalo" Rick Galeener as the pretext for an immigration sweep at Cave Creek and Bell roads in Phoenix.

What I also appreciate about the DOJ report is that it notes the horrid treatment of Latinos in MCSO custody, where they are punished for speaking Spanish, even if they speak only a little English or none at all.

And it mentioned the retaliation the MCSO regularly practices against those who criticize it, in direct violation of the First Amendment. Though the Justice Department doesn't mention it, New Times' lawsuit over the MCSO's arrests of our founders for writing a story about illegal grand jury subpoenas is a case in point.

Also, maybe MacIntyre wants to play dumb over the DOJ's mention of the illegal arrest and detention of Salvador Reza in 2010 on bogus charges later dropped by then-acting Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley.

As with the Gaucins, Reza's not mentioned by name, though it is obvious the letter is referring to him ("Joe Arpaio and Goons Grab Salvador Reza Off the Street," July 30, 2010).

Ditto the 2008 arrests of members of advocacy group Maricopa Citizens for Safety and Accountability at the Board of Supervisors' public meetings, in some cases for "clapping."

Though the members of the group arrested aren't named, the organization is named, as is the fact they beat their charges, sued the county, and won substantial settlements.

One of Maricopa Citizens for Safety and Accountability's organizers at the time was Randy Parraz, now famous for leading the recall charge against former state Senate President Russell Pearce ("Headhunter," November 17).

Parraz was falsely arrested in 2008 by MCSO goons on bogus trespassing charges. Charges later were dropped. His lawsuit's still in play.

Like many others, I, too, was encouraged reading Perez's report. The DOJ certainly seems to get it in many respects.

The report even comments disapprovingly on the MCSO's habit of pressuring immigrant detainees to sign "voluntary return" documents that deprive them of their rights to fight deportation.

Ironically, the practice also benefited U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which was partnered in Arpaio's jails with MCSO's federally cross-trained 287(g) deputies, who could act as junior immigration agents.

In the wake of Perez's report, ICE stripped Arpaio's office of 287(g) in the jails, though the agency's complicity in the MCSO's civil rights abuses extends over several years.

Indeed, Arpaio couldn't have implemented his policy of immigration sweeps without his 287(g) agreement with ICE, which began in 2007. Though his 287(g) authority in the field finally was taken from him in 2009, Arpaio terrorized countless civilians under ICE's watch during that period.

But so far, the recent severing of the 287(g) jails agreement is the only immediate, tangible repercussion for the MCSO as a result of its years-long pattern of discriminatory policing.

The residents of this county who are outraged by the sheriff's corruption need and demand more from the Obama administration.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons