Feathered Bastard

SB 1070-Influenced Operations Order Leads to Alleged Racial Profiling Incident by Phoenix PD

No doubt you've heard of driving while brown, particularly regarding Arizona's infamous ethnic cleansing law Senate Bill 1070.

Well, if you're Hispanic and plan to continue living in this state, get ready for running-out-of-gas-while-brown, walking-to-the-7-Eleven-while-brown, picking-up-your-kids-from-school-while-brown, going-to-work-while-brown, and while you're at it, add in witnessing- or being-a-victim-of-a-crime-while-brown.

Not that blatant racial profiling doesn't already occur here in Sand Land. Everyone's familiar with ye ol' broken taillight, that fave bogus pretext of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's boys-in-beige for stopping anyone darker than eggshell.

But the recent experience of Jesus Aguilar, a 52 year-old day laborer unlucky enough to run out of gas in the Palomino area of North Phoenix, offers a peek at how common and widespread such racial profiling soon will become in Arizona.

At a press conference held at Tonatierra's Macehuallii Work Center, Aguilar told reporters through his interpreter, human rights advocate Salvador Reza, that he was pushing his vehicle out of traffic Wednesday with the assistance of a friend, when a Phoenix Police Officer by the name of Ryder, pulled up behind him.

According to Aguilar, Ryder didn't offer to assist, but rather asked him for his driver's license and proof of insurance. Aguilar said he had the latter, but not the former.  He claims he showed Ryder an I.D., but Ryder was more interested in the expired visa in Aguilar's wallet.

Soon Ryder was on the phone to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, inquiring about Aguilar's immigration status. Aguilar was then arrested, taken to a police station in Sunnyslope, and turned over to ICE.

But, likely because Reza was soon raising Cain about Aguilar's arrest, ICE quickly released Aguilar on his own recognizance, with a court date before an immigration judge in July.. 

Aguilar had committed no crime. Instead, Ryder ended up citing Aguilar for two civil traffic offenses: driving without a license and without proof of insurance. Reza and Aguilar charge that Ryder used these civil offenses to play immigration cop and seek to have Aguilar deported.

"Any other officer, if [Aguilar] had been any other color, any other culture, would have probably tried to assist," Reza claimed. "Instead, [Aguilar] got transferred to ICE."

Reza used the incident to blast the Phoenix Police Department over its Operations Order 4.48, the department's immigration policy, revised in the wake of SB 1070, or at least that part of the law not enjoined by the federal court in 2010.

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