Feathered Bastard

Do Joe Arpaio's Deputies Discriminate Against Hispanics and Violate the Constitution? Let's Go To the Videotape

Video footage of an MCSO arrest and search during Friday's sweep

The sheriff's recent two-day anti-immigration sweep in Avondale was disastrous on so many levels. The MCSO's own press release states that "200 deputies and volunteer posse members" were mobilized for the operation, which would make 400 men total, assuming the numbers were the same for both Thursday and Friday. According to ICE spokeswoman Lori Haley, the MCSO collared 40 people in all, 20 of whom were suspected illegals. Even if the number of 200 law dogs was for both days combined, 40 arrests is a pitiful draw. From a cost-benefit analysis, the county is hardly getting its money's worth.

The Phoenix PD often hauls in more than 40 undocumented in one drop house raid, saving lives in the process, BTW. Ironically, according to a Channel 12 report, there was a home invasion robbery on day one of the sweeps, and in the same area, involving 5 men in ski masks and police-like uniforms. As it is public knowledge that some of Arpaio's boys in beige don ski masks to hide their identities during these patrols, it seems plausible that the home-invaders might've been playing on that information during their crime. Arpaio complained that "the two victims are not cooperating." Why should they, when the MCSO is more concerned with these profligate, anti-brown pony-shows, instead of doing the hard work of real law enforcement?

As if that weren't bad enough, the video above shot by Puente activist Carlos Garcia on Friday, April 24, offers a blatant example of the MCSO's extra-constitutional activities and obvious discrimination against Hispanics. Here, a young man has been pulled over for his car license light being out. He's handcuffed and sat on the curb, as his wife and child watch nearby. The deputy in question brags about how he's going to collar the guy on three felonies. A K9 officer is called out, and searches the vehicle with a dog. This is done without the permission of the arrestee.

The search appears to be in violation of a recent Supreme Court ruling limiting such K9 searches of vehicles, save in very specific circumstances. Maybe this deputy never got the memo. That's assuming the MCSO cares enough about Supreme Court rulings to inform its people on how to comply with them. Note the casual way a white guy endures the same sort of stop during Friday. He is not arrested. Instead, he gets to put his feet up and laugh the whole thing off. Guess it pays to be an ofay if the MCSO is doing the stop.

Ultimately, the young man was cut loose. Hey, what happened to those three felonies? Evidently the stop was bogus, the treatment of the young man was bogus, and the search was bogus. Chalk a few more constitutional violations up for the MCSO.

Gilman's P.O.V. of the "cone incident" on the first day of the Avondale sweep

Finally, I'm including a video from pro-immigrant activist Dennis Gilman of the first day of the sweep, which offers a slightly different perspective of the actions of MCSO SWAT team Captain David Letourneau, and his underling Sgt. Poe. Note the assaults (by the nativists) on Gilman that were ignored by Letourneau and Poe, and Letourneau's own provocative behavior towards Gilman. The nativists occupying the same sidewalk as the anti-Joe folks were given preferential treatment. And after everyone else was gone, the nativists approached the command center to talk with Sgt. Poe. I suspect that if Gilman or any of the other pro-immigrant activists had done the same, they would have been arrested.

Just where the heck is the Justice Department in all this? Aren't they supposed to be investigating Arpaio on civil rights violations? Also, it's long since past time for Janet Napolitano's DHS to yank Arpaio's 287(g) authority. What is DHS waiting for? An engraved invite from the sheriff himself?

Please note: When I refer to "the assaults on Gilman that were ignored by Letourneau and Poe," I'm talking about the nativists hitting Gilman's camera with their signs. This happened more than once, and they would sometimes push against Gilman with their signs. I am not referring to the provocative behavior of Captain Letourneau during the first night of the sweeps.

Not that I think Gilman cares about filing assault charges. I only meant this as an example of the one-sidedness of the MCSO. I added the phrase "by the nativists" to the sentence in question to clarify things, since there seems to be some confusion. Thanks.

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