Dozens of protestors converged on the Sandra Day O'Connor federal courthouse today to monitor the opening proceedings of the ACLU's racial-profiling lawsuit against Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his office.
Melendres v. Arpaio, filed about four years ago, is a class-action lawsuit that includes plaintiffs alleging civil-rights violations committed by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.
"We do want to see that this justice system finds [Arpaio] guilty of abusing his powers as sheriff of Maricopa County," Promise Arizona executive director Petra Falcon says.
Falcon doesn't believe that Arpaio is untouchable.
She cited the disbarment of former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and the recall of former state Senate President Russell Pearce as proof that public officials who abuse their power can be removed one way or another.
"That's why we're here," Falcon says. "I do think that justice will be served."
Members of the human-rights group Puente Arizona brought two undocumented members of their group out to the forefront of their demonstration. They proudly revealed their names for all media in attendance.
"I've been living in fear for a couple of years now with Arpaio's raids," Puente member Natally Cruz says. "My family has suffered from it. I think it's enough. You're not going to scare us anymore. We're tired of it, and we're undocumented and unafraid."
Less than a handful of pro-Arpaio protestors -- three from what we saw -- came out to support their beloved sheriff for a short time.
One pro-Arpaio protestor -- hoisting a stopthebias.org picket sign -- declined to speak with New Times.
There was a brief exchange of words between a couple of members of Puente and two of the three Arpaio protestors who showed up, but it quickly died down as the two Arpaio apologists left the area.
Puente Arizona and Promise for Arizona will be back in full-force on Tuesday, when Arpaio is set to take the witness stand.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.