Last week the Justice Department announced the findings of its three year investigation into notorious Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, concluding that he was guilty of systematic civil rights violations against Latinos. In a searing rebuke, DOJ said Arpaio had relied upon racial profiling and discrimination in his obsessive campaign against undocumented immigrants.
Arpaio was quick to respond that the DOJ probe (which began under the Bush administration) was politically motivated. The man who made his name parading prisoners around in pink underwear and cramming them into inhumane outdoor “tent cities” complained that his own civil rights had been violated because DOJ called him names:
At the same time, the sheriff rejected as false all of the allegations concerning systemic civil-rights violations. He acknowledged isolated incidents of misconduct by deputies or detention officers, but he said those occurred during arrests of 7,000 suspected illegal immigrants and jail contact with 40,000 others.
“You’re bound, with 50,000, to get a few complaints,” Arpaio said.
Likewise, the sheriff denied unlawfully targeting critics for arrest during political protests. “We don’t go after anybody,” he said. “Actually, they go after me. They’re demonstrating in front of my building, calling me every kind of name. If you want to talk about civil-rights violations, what about that?“
Arpaio stalled the investigation for 17 months by refusing to turn over records to federal investigators, forcing officials to file an unprecedented lawsuit against him for breaking the law by not cooperating. And the man who relishes brutally enforcing the law is still acting as if it does not apply to him.
Defiant as ever, Arpaio is pledging to resist the Justice Department’s order that he reach an agreement to reform internal affairs and training and submit to independent monitoring. He said Friday that he will not agree to be “controlled by some federal monitor or something.”
(HT: Adam Serwer at Mother Jones)