DOJ Confirms: Arizona’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio Is a Racist

The Department of Justice has determined Sheriff Joe Arpaio violated Latino people’s civil rights.

DOJ Confirms: Arizona's Sheriff Joe Arpaio Is a Racist

In a decision that will surprise no one, the Department of Justice confirmed today that Arizona birther sheriff Joe Arpaio’s iron-fisted policies violate Latino people’s civil rights.

Of course we’ve all already heard about the racial profiling Arpaio has encouraged during his nearly two decade tenure in Maricopa County. And we’ve been regaled with details about his penchant for making prisoners wear pink underwear. But the new Department of Justice report shows just how far Arpaio and his colleagues took their jingoistic crusade.

From the AP:

A review found that 20 percent of traffic reports handled by Arpaio’s immigrant-smuggling squad from March 2006 to March 2009 were stops — almost all involving Latino drivers — that were done without reasonable suspicion. The stops rarely led to smuggling arrests.

Latinos who were in the U.S. legally were arrested or detained without cause during the sweeps, according to the report.

Illegal immigrants accounted for 57 percent of the 1,500 people arrested in the 20 sweeps conducted since January 2008, according to figures provided by Arpaio’s office.

The civil rights report also found that police supervisors often used county accounts to send emails that demeaned Latinos to colleagues. One email had a photo of a mock driver’s license for a fictional state called “Mexifornia.”
Federal investigators also focused heavily on the language barriers in Arpaio’s jails.

Latino inmates with limited English skills were punished for failing to understand commands in English by being put in solitary confinement for up to 23 hours a day.

Punishing people for not speaking a language? That’s the most basic form of bigotry around, recalling the “Roots” scene in which Kunta Kinte, played by LeVar Burton in the miniseries, is whipped until he says his slave name, Toby Waller.

Sheriff Arpaio, an elected official (really, Maricopa County?) who had Republican presidential candidates lining up for an endorsement until he chose Rick Perry, now has until January 4th to say whether he’ll comply with the DOJ’s recommendation: creating policies, supervised by a judge, that deter discrimination.

Odds are that Apraio will fight the DOJ tooth and nail, lest he lose his self-proclaimed title, “America’s Toughest Sheriff.” Either way, he’ll live on in history as “America’s Most Racist Sheriff.”

Image via Shutterstock.