Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Holding Sheriff Joe Accountable

Crossposted from The Sanctuary

As you may know, Joe Arpaio was re-elected this past November as sheriff of Maricopa County in Arizona, the most heavily populated county in the state, encompassing most of the Phoenix metro area. Supporters of Sheriff Joe would have you believe that he was given another term based on competence, but really, his reelection was due to "Get 'Em" politics.

Those of us who follow immigration headlines and live in communities affected by hardlined tactics know Arpaio's name very well. He has morphed the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office in to a full-time immigration enforcement posse at the expense of doing his real job as Maricopa County's top law enforcement agent. Racial profiling is par for the course under Arpaio's leadership and he does it unapologetically.

"Get 'Em" politics, as in "Let's Get 'Em" is made possible by media sources who give nativists like Arpaio open platforms to spew xenophobia, racism and hate. This dark wave is not something that members of immigrant or latino communities are imagining, the numbers tell the tale. Hate crimes against latinos have surged recently, prompting grassroot movements to demand action from the government.

These tragic killings are evidence, the [National Hispanic Leadership Agenda] NHLA says, of the growing wave of hate gripping the United States, where in July a group of young people beat 25-year-old Mexican Luis Ramirez to death in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania.

Because of the crimes, the NHLA, the National Council of La Raza and other groups said that Congress and the incoming Obama administration should "make passage of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act a priority."

That bill provides federal assistance to the states and local jurisdictions to bring hate crimes to trial.

This national coalition, which encompasses 26 Hispanic organizations, also condemned at the press conference the violent rhetoric that various U.S. media outlets use to refer to undocumented immigrants and certain minority groups.

Latin American Herald Tribune

With news that Sheriff Joe Arpaio is being given his own reality television show on the FOX network, it is clear that pro-migrant and pro-human rights people of all colors, creeds and political ideology need to unite to say, "Enough!" There is blood being shed in the streets, and this latest example of nativist celebrity worship will only guarantee more violence against latinos and migrant workers.

America's Voice has launched a petition calling for the Department of Justice to investigate the tactics and malfeasance that has given Sheriff Joe such notoriety. Instead of being rewarded with more media attention (which he loves), here is an opportunity to demand accountability:

Should "America's Toughest Sheriff" get a TV show for Christmas?

We think he should get investigated for his controversial tactics.

With over 2,700 lawsuits against him, a history of virulently anti-immigrant and anti-Latino tactics, and 40,000 felony warrants outstanding in his jurisdiction, Arpaio has fostered a climate in which real criminals roam free while hard-working immigrants live in fear. America's Voice is calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to begin a federal investigation into his tactics, giving Sheriff Arpaio the attention he really deserves.

America's Voice - click to view and sign the petition

No comments: