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Racial profiling allegations begin for Sheriff Arpaio

A defiant Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, pounds his fist on the podium as he answers questions regarding the Department of Justice announcing a federal civil lawsuit against Sheriff Arpaio and his department, during a news conference Thursday, May 10, 2012, in Phoenix. According to the Department of Justice, after months of negotiations failed to yield an agreement to settle allegations that the sheriff's department racially profiled Latinos in his trademark immigration patrols, the lawsuit was filed.(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

A group of Latinos is arguing in federal court that Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s deputies carried out racial profiling as part of policy of discrimination.

The civil lawsuit involving Arpaio — the self-proclaimed toughest sheriff in America — has put his anti-illegal immigration patrols on center stage.

Tim Casey, who is defending Arpaio, said Thursday that the patrols were properly planned out and executed. He said they exceeded police standards. “Race and ethnicity had nothing to do with the traffic stops.”

Arpaio has said people pulled over were approached because deputies had probable cause to believe they had committed crimes and that officers only learned afterward that many were illegal immigrants.

A lawyer for plaintiffs who argue they were victims of racial profiling said in opening statements that the evidence will show that Arpaio and his deputies discriminated against Hispanics.

“It’s our view that the problem starts at the top,” attorney Stan Young said.

The plaintiffs aren’t seeking money damages. They want a declaration that Arpaio’s office racially profiles and an order that requires the department to make changes to prevent what they said is discriminatory policing.

The lawsuit will serve as a precursor to a U.S. Justice Department’s case that alleges a broader range of civil rights violations by Arpaio’s office. A DOJ lawyer leading the agency’s civil rights case watched the trial.

Arpaio, who didn’t appear in court Thursday, is expected to be called to testify Tuesday.

For years, Arpaio, the self-proclaimed toughest sheriff in America, has vehemently denied allegations that his deputies in Arizona’s most populous county racially profile Latinos in his trademark patrols.

The plaintiffs say deputies based some traffic stops on the race of Hispanics who were in vehicles, had no probable cause to pull them over and made the stops so they could ask about their immigration status.

David Vasquez, an IT specialist from Mesa who identified himself as a Mexican American, said he and his wife were pulled over during a June 2009 sweep as the couple was headed to dinner. One of the deputies who stopped them asked Vasquez whether he spoke English, which he does.

“I just found it funny that he asked me that question because I felt like I had been singled out. I’ve never been asked that question,” Vasquez said. He said he was following the speed limit and hadn’t broken any traffic laws.

Five or 10 minutes after being pulled over, a deputy said he pulled Vasquez over because he had a crack in his windshield, which Vasquez testified wasn’t blocking his view of the road.

The officer didn’t write him a ticket. Vasquez now questions how the officer was able to spot the crack in the windshield given his position at an intersection.

After the officers let him go, Vasquez said it occurred to him that he was just racially profiled and told his wife: “I believe I was pulled over for being brown.”

Under questioning from an Arpaio attorney, Vasquez said he didn’t report the traffic stop to authorities and was contacted months later by Arpaio critics who had video-recorded the stop.

Another man who was Hispanic testified about being pulled over by a sheriff’s deputy in December 2007.

David Rodriguez said the deputy pulled him over as Rodriguez and his family had just been off-roading in the area and had ended up driving on a closed road. Rodriguez said other drivers who were also on the road and who were white were let off with only a warning, while he was ticketed.

Rodriguez said the officer asked him for his Social Security card, in addition to his driver’s license and registration and proof of insurance for his truck. Asked why he believed he was treated differently, Rodriguez said, “Because I’m Hispanic.”

Questioning by Arpaio’s lawyer suggested that the deputy had asked for only Rodriguez’s Social Security number for the purpose of completing a part of the citation form and that the other drivers in the area were allowed on the closed road to survey damage to property caused by a storm.

The lawsuit echoes some of the racial profiling accusations in the DOJ case. That suit said Arpaio’s office retaliated against its critics, punished Latino jail inmates with limited English skills for speaking Spanish and failed to adequately investigate a large number of sex-crimes cases. No trial date in that case has been set.

Arizona State University law professor Carissa Byrne Hessick said that if Arpaio loses the current case, the verdict would likely stand as the finding on whether Arpaio’s office racially profiles.

The sheriff likely wouldn’t be able to re-litigate the profiling allegations in the DOJ case. Still, Arpaio could dispute the other allegations, Hessick said. If Arpaio wins, the DOJ wouldn’t be prevented from bringing its racial profiling allegations to trial.

The judge overseeing that case might be inclined to rule against the federal agency on the racial profiling claim because there would be a fellow judge who concluded that the facts don’t support it.

Arpaio has said the DOJ lawsuit is a politically motivated attack by the Obama administration as a way to court Latino voters in a presidential election year. DOJ officials say the department began its initial civil rights inquiry of Arpaio’s office during the Bush administration and notified the sheriff of its formal investigation a few months after Obama took office.

Arpaio has staked his reputation on immigration enforcement and, in turn, won support and financial contributors from people across the country who helped him build a $4 million campaign war chest.

The patrols have brought allegations that Arpaio himself ordered some of them not based on reports of crime but letters from Arizonans who complained about dark-skinned people loitering or speaking Spanish.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys say they plan to do prove that Arpaio’s office had a policy that was intentionally discriminatory, in part, by focusing on their allegation that Arpaio launched some patrols based on racially charged citizen complaints.

Some of the people who filed the lawsuit were stopped by deputies in regular patrols, while others were stopped in his special immigration sweeps.

During the sweeps, deputies flood an area of a city — in some cases, heavily Latino areas — over several days to seek out traffic violators and arrest other offenders.

Illegal immigrants accounted for 57 percent of the 1,500 people arrested in the 20 sweeps conducted by his office since January 2008, according to figures provided by Arpaio’s office. The department hasn’t conducted any of the special patrols since October.

7 comments

  1. We must express in votes what the TEA PARTY can do for all Americans and that is to massively influence both political parties. Now I am not saying every Legislator in Congress is corrupt, but there are many making money off the American public. So the Democrats and Republicans need to clean house, on issues that are urgently important to the American people. By adding the impediments of the TEA PARTY that are running of the government, the real ‘PEOPLE’S PARTY’ can pressure the senators and House to carry out the bidding of the taxpayer. Here are a few of the issues that can be altered by the TEA PARTY LEADERSHIP:

    1. The TEA PARTY can force a vote on the ‘Legal Workforce Act’ (E-Verify) and enact it as mandatory in every business nationwide. Those who feel they are not accountable will be looking at hefty fines, loss of assets and even prison. All those who ignore the I-9 audits in not implementing the computer to detect illegal aliens in the workplace will be sanctioned?

    2. The TEA PARTY will force a vote on the ‘Birthright Citizenship Act’ concluding once and for all, that pregnant women can no longer gain citizenship through a misguided loophole for a child, just by slipping past Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) at the border or over staying a visa, leading ultimately to yet another Dream Act. What about American teenagers, who have been pushed out of jobs that were the monopoly for our kids a couple of decades back?

    3. The TEA PARTY will ensure that the Justice Department cannot intimidate states trying to protect the right of its lawful residents. New laws will be imposed to halt Sanctuary States as California, Nevada, and New York and punish those elected officials, who have snubbed immigration laws. They will be prosecuted as ‘aiding and abetting’ illegal aliens, which Federal Immigration and Nationality Act Section 8 USC 1324(a)(1)(A)(iv)(b)(iii) then fined under title 18 of being imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.”

    4. Introduce a new law that no longer gives bipartisan exemption from tax revenues, making everybody pay their fair share and even the 40 percent of the lowest of incomes that should mandatory pay a small amount.

    5. The TEA PARTY LEADERSHIP to immediately press the Congress, to negotiate with Canada to run the Keystone pipeline. In addition grant access to Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico to drill for oil, natural gas and mine for coal, within a future that they provide research and development in cleaning these necessary products as a priority in future years.

    6. The war in Afghanistan, fighting the Taliban for what anymore? We must stop filling the pockets of government contractors and politicians with taxpayer money? After 10 years what have we accomplished? Nothing! Over 2000 American troops have given their lives, and we are sending 8 billions of dollars a month to a very corrupt government. Like most of the Middle East they are still living under archaic laws, where women have no rights. It’s time to start ‘Nation Building’ at home and not in other countries. Why we are policing the world, when our own country is held hostage to criminals entering America, through a border that in most places you can walk through some rusty barbed wire. Where is American protection to stop financial migrants entering our nation and pilfering uncompensated state treasuries?

    The Tea Party is essential to America surviving, as we have both parties spending billions of dollars on pet projects. We have President Obama signing executive orders to give just about equal access to food stamps. That illegal immigration has been encouraged by both political parties for different reasons; the Democrats pressing for political pleasing laws, such as the Dream Act against the Congress and the hope that they will gain election impetus for more votes—from non citizens and illegal aliens, without looking towards the consequences in close races. Then Republicans who allow clandestinely over a million new immigrants a year, with low skilled experience and being supplied to corporations as slave labor.

    The TEA PARTY is not receding, but growing faster than ever and not just in the millions anymore. These are the demoralized people who can be counted in the millions, who will arrive at the election booth? They are the hidden voters, the individuals who have never paid attention to voting? There are chapters all over the country, in towns, cities and from every racial preference, religion and political party who no longer trust Washington. The Liberal press can print what they like, but the TEA PARTY is here to stay. President Obama and Mitt Romney had better take notice, because the TEA PARTY PEOPLE are sick and very tired of the greed, the influence and power grabs.

    Illegal immigration is unsettling as it is dividing the country and is predictably in causing a major financial situation–without a solution? California, that boasts of two major Sanctuary cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles are costing taxpayers extraordinary amounts of money. Don’t take my word for it, but read a report by Michael D. Andronovich, Los Angeles County Supervisor who lays out a lengthy truth of the costs in this metropolis of 1.6 billion dollars annually, while the Nevada annual fiscal burden of immigration to be approximately $630 million. Then Arizona’s illegal immigrant population is costing the state’s taxpayers even more than once originally thought and now revised, to a whopping $2.7 billion a year. It is estimated that U.S. taxpayers spend $12,000,000,000 a year on primary and secondary school education for the children of illegal immigrants.

    Each year, it costs the states billions of dollars to incarcerate illegal alien criminals and during one recent 23 year period, the state of California built 23 prisons but just one university. Texas has set their uncompensated cost for state services for an estimated 1.6 million illegal Mexican immigrants at $6 billion to $8 billion a year. These are estimated dollar costs by different organizations and at most projections are limited to what the states release? However, one thing is for sure, the dollars spent on illegal immigrants rises annually as more impoverished persons skip the border. America once a bastion of ‘law and order’ has been overrun in many jurisdictions by foreign nationals, with the Socialist progressives in the Obama Imperial Court, who have contempt for our laws, language and our constitutional foundation.

    As for New Mexico the costs to support illegal aliens remains doubtful and silent by the elected officials. Border agents are stating that there are a growing number of radical Muslims sneaking over the Mexican border into the United States. A number of state and local jurisdictions enacted immigration-enforcement measures in 2012 or fended off attempts by politicians and elected officials to accommodate illegal aliens. Alabama revised its enforcement law without extensively weakening it while Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and three local governments enacted enforcement laws. Colorado, Delaware, Indiana, Hawaii, Washington State and, so far, California taxpayers are denying illegal aliens the public benefits that advocates have demanded. WANT MORE STUNNING DETAILS ON THE COST AND OTHER INTELLIGENCE ON THE ILLEGAL ALIEN INVADERS—GO TO IMMIGRATIONCOUNTERS DOT COM.

    Going after Sheriff Joe Arpaio for doing his job is a witch hunt and the larger majority is aware of this. It’s a way to gain favoritism for Obama’s potential reelection, so non citizen’s vote for him. Joe stands out along with Sheriff Babeu who neither runs with their tails between their legs as with most police chiefs. It’s inevitable that the sheriff’s sweeps are going to detain people of a certain national status, because we have been silently invaded by a majority from South of our border; Arizona ground zero for every illegal alien who slips past the limited manpower at the non-existent fence. If outspoken politicians as Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama were not a powerhouse in Congress, he too would be on the Obama’s Dept of Justice short list for attack by the overconfident Liberal nutcases.

    You want fairness for every American? Well you will not find it in Washington as it is now? Join the dispirited, join the furious; join the desperate, join the TEA PARTY. Get every person you know to vote into office every Constitutional candidate, as the Tea Party leader who will turn on the power and strengthen the resistance at the local level and the national level as well. Want to learn more about this ‘PEOPLE’S PARTY, then please go to TEA PARTY DOT ORG and you will be stunned with such unlawful acts as a covert agreements with Mexico, in offering food stamps to illegal migrants and immigrants. Want more information about corruption in Washington, and then go to Judicial Watch dot org. Then go to the largest pro-sovereignty organization that have boosted their membership to over a million and that is NumbersUSA.dot com.

  2. Gee, where was the Tea Party when Bush started two unfunded and unwarranted wars; when Bush gave the 1%’ers tax breaks they didn’t need or deserve; when Bush added Part D (also unfunded) to Medicare. Where was the Tea Party when it was publicized that the Bush Budget Office LIED about the cost of the plan. Where was the Tea Party patriotism when Cheney outed a CIA agent.
    This country’s problems with immigration and myriad social issues did not begin in January 2009. It seems the Tea Party supporters were ok with everything until President Obama won the election.

    The Tea Party is not a grass roots movement. It’s an astroturf creation. You’ve been fooled by neocons.

  3. Concerned Citizen / Taxpayer

    “In Arpaio’s Arizona, They Fought Back” – NYTimes.com Sunday Editorial page

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/22/opinion/sunday/in-arpaios-arizona-they-fought-back.html

    excerpt:

    “This picture is incomplete. Many Latinos surely avoid any contact with the sheriff and his deputies. But Maricopa is also home to a brave corps of people who have tirelessly and stubbornly resisted the sheriff’s campaign of fear. They are a diverse group — Latinos and Anglos, immigrants and the native-born, street protesters and musicians, filmmakers and bloggers, and a very small number of elected officials. They don’t get much national attention. But as the worst of the outrages of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office are exposed this month in United States District Court in Phoenix, their work and their warnings are finally being recognized.”

  4. Concerned Citizen / Taxpayer

    meskinmurkin, Your reply to Dave Francis is spot-on! \Two unfunded and unwarranted wars by Bush..\, I will add, that have altered the America we once knew — ushered in the Patriot Act, Homeland Security, outside war contractors / profiteers, lack of due process and Constitutional Rights tossed out the window.

    The rapid growth of \security\, the militarization of our peace officers and prison profiteers A war on our own people / taxpayers / voters in the ongoing mass incarceration of Arizona’s people. The U.S. #1 Jailer in the world is pure hypocrisy in America \land of the free\. Arizona \leaders\ and lawmakers taking the state back to the ’30′s and refusing to reform outdated and draconian laws sends a chilling message to the people, families, new businesses and tourists. Time to oust those who cannot see the damage they’ve done and refuse to \right the wrongs\, and move Arizona into the 21st century. What do you want your legacy for Arizona to be?

  5. The public needs to be informed.

    \In Arpaio’s Arizona, They Fought Back\ – NYTimes.com Sunday Editorial pg. 16, July 22, 2012

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/22/opinion/sunday/in-arpaios-arizona-they-fought-back.html

    excerpt:

    \This picture is incomplete. Many Latinos surely avoid any contact with the sheriff and his deputies. But Maricopa is also home to a brave corps of people who have tirelessly and stubbornly resisted the sheriff’s campaign of fear. They are a diverse group — Latinos and Anglos, immigrants and the native-born, street protesters and musicians, filmmakers and bloggers, and a very small number of elected officials. They don’t get much national attention. But as the worst of the outrages of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office are exposed this month in United States District Court in Phoenix, their work and their warnings are finally being recognized.\

  6. Keep the Aliens….Deport Arpaio and the Teabaggers.

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