racial profiling in Arizona

Arizona’s Sheriff Arpaio faces  allegations of racial profiling as civil trial kicks off

Published July 19, 2012

Associated  Press

PHOENIX –  Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s  anti-illegal immigration patrols are taking center stage in federal court in  Phoenix.

A lawyer for a group of Latinos who filed a civil lawsuit against his  department said in opening statements Thursday that the evidence will show that  Arpaio and his deputies racially profiled Hispanics.

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

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

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

The lawsuit filed by a handful of Latinos 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. Although not involved in Thursday’s case, a DOJ  lawyer leading the agency’s civil rights case watched the trial.

Arpaio was not expected in court Thursday.

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 Arpaio’s officers 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 inquire about their immigration status.

“He is not free to say whatever he wants,” said Dan Pochoda, a lawyer for the  American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, one of the groups that pushed the  lawsuit against Arpaio. “He will be called as a witness.”

If Arpaio loses the civil case, he won’t face jail time or fines.

At a late June hearing, Casey said the sheriff wanted the trial so he could  prove his critics wrong and remove the stigma that the racial profiling  allegation carries. “What we want is resolution,” Casey said.

The DOJ lawsuit makes many of the same racial profiling allegations, but goes  further to say that 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.

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  people with dark skin congregating in an area or speaking Spanish.

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, which hasn’t conducted any of the special patrols  since October.

Arpaio has repeatedly said people who are pulled over in his patrols were  approached because deputies had probable cause to believe they had committed  crimes and that it was only afterward that officers found that many of them were  illegal immigrants.

U.S. District Judge Murray Snow has issued rulings against Arpaio earlier in  the case.

In December, he barred Arpaio’s deputies who are enforcing Arizona’s 2005  immigrant smuggling law from detaining people based solely on the suspicion that  they’re in the country illegally. Arpaio has appealed that decision.

The judge also has reminded plaintiffs’ attorneys what they need to prove to  make their claim of systematic discrimination. At a March hearing, he told them  that to back up the racial profiling allegations, they must show Arpaio’s office  had a policy that was intentionally discriminatory.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys say they plan to do so, in part, by focusing on  their allegation that Arpaio launched some patrols based on racially charged  citizen complaints that alleged no actual crimes.

Separate from the two lawsuits that allege racial profiling, a federal grand  jury has been investigating Arpaio’s office on criminal abuse-of-power  allegations since at least December 2009 and is examining the investigative work  of the sheriff’s anti-public corruption squad.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/07/19/arizona-sheriff-arpaio-faces-allegations-racial-profiling-as-civil-trial-kicks/#ixzz2BC0bIai9

Global Public Square

By Ted Galen Carpenter, Special to CNN

Ted Galen Carpenter, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, is the author of nine books on international affairs, including the just released The Fire Next Door: Mexico’s Drug Violence and the Danger to America. The views expressed are his own.

A striking feature of the presidential debate on foreign policy was the total lack of attention given to Latin America –notably the drug violence wracking our next door neighbor, Mexico. Nearly 60,000 people have perished since 2006 in the Mexican government’s military-led offensive against the country’s powerful, ruthless drug cartels. But while President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney both obsessed about the Middle East, they virtually ignored Washington’s relations with our southern neighbors. After a brief observation from Romney near the start of the debate that the region offered important – and neglected – economic opportunities for the United States…

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