Well-known Arizona DREAM Activist Erika Andiola claims her mom was racially-profiled last night by the Mesa Police Department, resulting in the 54 year-old woman being arrested, cited and released after being stopped, allegedly for speeding.
Andiola admits her mom Maria Arreola did not have any identification on her when pulled over, but denies she was going over the speed limit. She says the Mesa cop who arrested Arreola asked her mom about her immigration status before taking her in to be fingerprinted and photographed.
"To me there is no doubt," Andiola said, when asked if her mom was racially-profiled. "When [my mom and my two siblings] heard the siren, they looked at the speed and she was going 40, which is the speed limit of the street.
"[The police] immediately began asking her all of these questions of where she was born and did she have a social security number," she continued. "She would keep on saying, `I don't want to answer,' but they just kept on questioning her."
Andiola's brother, who was in the car, texted his sister, and she raced over. While there, and translating for her mom, she taped the incident with her cell phone, unbeknownst to the two police officers present.
In the video, the arresting officer is told that Arreola's I.D. is elsewhere, but he does not allow her family to retrieve it.
"You know what?" the officer says off-camera. "Before all the games and the address and the right to remain silent and all that crap, maybe, but now, no."
This came, Andiola says, after she and her family asserted their rights.
Andiola says her mom was taken into the police station, and her mom's vehicle was towed.
Ultimately Arreola was cited and released, after the cops called the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Andiola said.
"`She's clean with ICE, she can go,'" Andiola said the Anglo cop told her afterward. "I'm guessing it's because she's had her [immigration] application approved, but she's still waiting for the actual residency. It's going to be about three years [before she gets that]."
The activist, who is a co-founder of the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition and the DRM Capitol Group, said the Anglo cop who arrested her mother was rude (the other cop present looked like he might be Latino, she said).
Later, the Anglo cop attempted to question her and her brother about why they were so "paranoid" about her mother being taken into custody.
Andiola said they refused to answer the cop, and drove off.
Mesa Police Department spokesman Steven Berry said he could not yet find a record of the incident, but that based on his review of the video posted to YouTube, he believed the officer's actions to be appropriate.
Berry stated that he did not see any evidence of racial profiling, and that if Arreola had been Anglo, the result would have been the same.
He denied that Arizona's "papers please" legislation SB 1070 had anything to do with the stop.
Section 2(b) of the law, the portion requiring cops to question those they stop about their immigration status if there is reasonable suspicion to believe someone stopped is in the country illegally, went into effect last week.
"Take SB 1070 out of the equation, and the same exact thing would have happened," he contended.
Which may be true. But with section 2(b) of SB 1070 now in play, Hispanics will no doubt become the objects of increased police scrutiny.
However, the actions of Arizona cops will also be under a magnifying glass, as this incident illustrates. With the near-ubiquity of cell phone cameras, and with Latinos -- documented and undocumented -- more knowledgeable about their rights, how can it be otherwise?
And so the suspicion between Latinos and the police is sure to grow. For that, you can thank the nativist wackos who made 1070 a reality.
All in all, an excellent argument for the law's total repeal.
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