Feathered Bastard

Joe Arpaio Admits Racial Profiling, Takes Bigoted Suggestions From Supporters, as MCSO Deputies Pass Racist E-Mails and Racially Profile

With their own words and deeds, they are damned.

I'm talking about what's in the latest filings in the American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit against Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office over claims that his anti-immigrant sweeps racially and ethnically profile Latinos in Maricopa County. 

Both sides in Melendres vs. Arpaio have asked for summary judgment from federal District Court Judge G. Murray Snow. Arpaio's lawyers want Snow to rule that the plaintiffs lack standing and that the case should be dismissed because, Arpaio's attorneys insist, the racial profiling allegations cannot be proven.

The plaintiffs, however, want Murray to rule in their favor, essentially agreeing with them that the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office engages in "a policy, pattern and practice of targeting Hispanic drivers and passengers...during traffic stops," which in turn violates their 14th Amendment right to equal protection under the law.

Ultimately, the plaintiffs are seeking an injunction from the court preventing the MCSO from doing this and putting in place a mechanism to ensure such widespread racial profiling does not again occur. They are not seeking damages.

(You can read the filing, here.)

The plaintiffs are also asking for about $118,000 in legal fees and costs that resulted from depositions having to be reopened when it was revealed that MCSO deputies had been systematically destroying evidence that the plaintiffs sought.

To these ends, the plaintiffs' lawyers have produced a mountain of evidence supporting their claims, including hundreds of pages of exhibits, such as: a study showing that Hispanics were in some cases 53.7 percent more likely to be stopped during a sweep; e-mails with bigoted jokes and photos exchanged among MCSO deputies; racist letters to Arpaio that he agreed with and in some cases apparently used as pretexts for sweeps; and Arpaio's own statements referring to all Mexican migrants as "dirty," and so forth.

Considering the volume of the exhibits offered, it's impossible to summarize them all in a blog post, so I'll offer some examples below. But before I do, I should recount what are essentially admissions of racial profiling made by both Arpaio's lawyers in their motion before Murray, as well as by Arpaio during his second deposition in 2010.

Regarding the namesake plaintiff of the suit, Manuel de Jesus Ortega Melendres -- who was in the country legally on a tourist visa when he was pinched by the MCSO on September 26, 2007 -- Arpaio's lawyer Tim Casey writes the following:

When a [Human Smuggling Unit] observed the white truck stop at the church and pick up Mr. Melendres and three other men it radioed MCSO Deputy Louis DiPietro in his patrol car and assigned him to follow the truck (in which Mr. Melendres was a passenger) and to look for probable cause to make a traffic stop of the truck. Deputy DiPietro followed the truck and observed no equipment violations on the truck and, therefore, "paced" the truck for roughly 1.5 miles and determined it was speeding (34 mph in a 25 mph zone) and that he had probable cause to lawfully stop the truck for a violation of the traffic code...Once the truck was stopped, Deputy DiPietro contacted the truck's driver, and based on information provided by the driver, formed reasonable suspicion that the truck's occupants may have been in the country unlawfully. Deputy DiPietro, therefore, called on his radio for a 287(g) MCSO deputy to assist at the stop to investigate the truck's occupants.

This was at a church parking lot in Cave Creek that was allowing day laborers to congregate and solicit work, which even Arpaio in his 2010 deposition agrees was not a crime. So four Latino men get into a truck driven by a white guy, and the MCSO's Human Smuggling Unit orders a deputy to follow it and find probable cause to stop it.

The Anglo driver was not cited and was cut loose. Melendres had his tourist visa on him, but the MCSO arrested him anyway. He was eventually turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which released him.

What clearer evidence of racial profiling could there be? Well, there are Arpaio's own words to the effect that he considers all Latinos to be possible illegal immigrants.

During the 2010 deposition, where Arpaio was questioned at length about racist correspondence he received from various Joe-lovers (who he then wrote thank you notes to, forwarding on the letters to MCSO personnel), there was the following exchange between plaintiffs' counsel and the sheriff.

Question: Do you think it's racial profiling if your deputies look for Latinos with respect to immigration violations, given the fact that the majority of illegal immigrants in Arizona are Latinos?

Arpaio: No.

With that "no," Arpaio basically confesses that he has no problem with his deputies profiling suspects based on race and ethnicity.

In one angry letter written in 2008 by a serious Mexican-hater, the writer encourages Arpaio to sweep Mesa, as well as other cities:

Does Arpaio rebuke this moon-howler or square-file his letter? Heck, no. He scribbles a note to his secretary, cc-ing Deputy Chief Brian Sands, the guy responsible for choosing the location of the sweeps, stating,

"Thank him for support, illegal immigration, chain gangs. I will be going over into Mesa."

About a month later, Arpaio did indeed do a sweep of Mesa.

Also in 2008, another xenophobic nut writes:

At one point in the letter, this individual opines, "If you have dark skin, you have dark skin! Unfortunately, that is the look of the Mexican illegal [sic] who are here ILLEGALLY!"

(Which is pretty stupid, BTW, because I've known undocumented folks who could pass for Anglo. One, a day-laborer, had red hair and freckles.)

Arpaio scrawls this message to Sands, "Have someone handle this."

Another letter from 2008 retained by Joe beseeches the sheriff to "liberate" Mesa of its "swarms" of illegal aliens. Regarding day laborers, she states that, "Because of their demeanor, it is obvious to pick out the illegals from the American citizens."

Most of the last names on these batty letters have been redacted.

There's even an insane e-mail from well-known online troll "The Class West," which Arpaio seems to take seriously. Class West berates Ninth Circuit Appeals Court Judge Mary Murguria, once a district court judge assigned to Melendres, as a "`token' Hispanic female judge."

(Note: Murguria recused herself from the case in July of 2009. She was nominated to the Ninth Circuit by President Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on December 22, 2010.)

Arpaio underlines one of the cruder parts, where Class West states, "Quite uncool of Murguria to sit, or shit, on this case."

In his infinite wisdom, Arpaio forwards this tripe to Sands, MCSO flack Lisa Allen, and others at MCSO.

I could go on, ad nauseam, but I think you get the drift.

Then there are the bigoted e-mails circulated by sheriff's deputies, such as Sergeant Brett Palmer, the MCSO brown-shirt infamous for berating elected officials in a press conference from 2009, calling them "ignorant people" for criticizing Arpaio's sweeps

In 2008, Palmer forwarded a bigoted joke to his MCSO pals with a photo depicting "Indian Yoga," and "Mexican Yoga," showing a drunken Latino man as an example of the latter.

He wasn't the only one forwarding such jokes. In another of many examples, MCSO employees e-mailed a "Mexifornia" driver's license to each other, depicting an offensive ethnic stereotype aimed at Mexican-Americans.

Also, there are several photos showing examples of "Mexican engineering," such as the ones reproduced below.

On a more serious note, the plaintiffs commissioned a comprehensive study of MCSO stops during the sweeps by Dr. Ralph B. Taylor, a professor of criminal justice at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Using the MCSO's own raw data, and comparing stops made during sweeps to stops made at other times, he found that individuals with Hispanic surnames were far more likely to be stopped by MCSO deputies during the sweeps. 

Hispanics were up to 30 percent more likely to be stopped during a sweep as compared to any other day, up to 39.5 percent more likely to be stopped compared with dates one year earlier, and up to 53.7 percent more likely to be pulled by MCSO saturation patrol officers when compared to stops by MCSO deputies done the same day but not during a sweep.

Anyway you cut it, Arpaio's sweeps were Hispanic-hunting dragnets, just I and many others have said all along. The sweeps were motivated by ethnic and racial animus, and constituted a vast program of racial profiling and intimidation.

Both sides in the lawsuit, which has been ongoing since 2007, have requested oral arguments, and considering the complexity of the case, the judge will likely set a date for same.

Though this suit may drag one for weeks or months more, the plaintiffs' case seems more than proven. Thing is, the evil flower does not grow in good soil. And though racial profiling, bigotry and xenophobia are the order of the day at the MCSO, the same goes for Arizona in general. 

Can you see any of Arpaio's supporters disowning him due to this evidence? I can't. After all, they're the ones that sent him all of those letters preaching hate and ignorance. Arpaio, he knows his base.