by Luke Johnson at Huffington Post
Posted: 05/10/2012 4:12 pm
Updated: 05/10/2012 6:32 pm
The Justice Department filed suit Thursday against Maricopa County, Ariz. Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his office for unlawfully discriminating against Latinos, and in turn, disregarding basic constitutional rights.
Arpaio said Wednesday that he’ll fight the charges in court. “And then we’ll find out the real story. They’re telling me how to run my organization,” he said. “I’d like to get this resolved, but I’m not going to give up my authority to the federal government. It’s as simple as that.”
Maricopa County Employees Call Latinos Derogatory Names
Jail employees frequently refer to Latinos as “wetbacks,” “Mexican bitches,” and “stupid Mexicans,” according to the lawsuit. An email that included a photography of a Chihahua dressed in swimming gear with the caption “A Rare Photo of a Mexican Navy Seal” was widely distributed by sheriff’s office supervisors.
Officers Mistreat Latinos In Routine Traffic Enforcement
The lawsuit recounts how a Latina woman who was five-months pregnant and a U.S. citizen was stopped as she pulled into the driveway. “After she exited her car, the officer then insisted that she sit on the hood of the car. When she refused, the officer grabbed her arms, puled them behind her back, and slammed her, stomach first, into the vehicle three times. He then dragged her to the patrol car and shoved her into the backseat,” reads the complaint.
She was cited for failure to provide identification, which was later changed to failure to provide proof of insurance. The issue was resolved when the woman proved she had insurance to a court.
In yet another case, two officers followed a Latina U.S. citizen a quarter of a mile to her home without flashing their lights. When she arrived home, they insisted that she stay in the car. The reason for the stop was a “non-functioning license plate light.” After she tried to enter her home, officers took her to the ground, kneed her in the back and handcuffed her. She was brought to a Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) substation and cited for “disorderly conduct,” which was later dismissed, according to the lawsuit.
Latinos Are Indiscriminately Detained In Immigration Raids
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- Arpaio Faces a New Sheriff in Town (thedailybeast.com)
- Sheriff Joe Arpaio: Immigrants’ worst nightmare (africanleader.net)
- Justice Dept. Sues Arizona Sheriff Arpaio for Civil Rights Violations (commondreams.org)