Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Four Most Racist Moments

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Murray Snow ruled that Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, AZ had racially profiled Hispanics during immigration sweeps. The lawsuit, which seeks to bar Arpaio’s office from discriminatory practices, charged that Arpaio’s treatment of undocumented immigrants violated civil rights.

Respect Arizona, a multiparty political group, has launched a campaign to recall Sheriff Arpaio because the group believes that he has torn families apart and has wasted money on lawsuits. Once Respect Arizona receives 335,000 signatures, the group can begin the process to recall Arpaio. While the signatures are still pouring into their site, here are some top moments in which Arpaio overextended his powers as a sheriff and overtly practiced racial profiling:

He paraded immigrant detainees. In 2009, Arpaio ordered the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) to dress up 220 Latino immigrants in prison stripes and forced them to march through the streets from the county jail to a “Tent City” detainment camp. The immigrant detainees had been picked up for non-violent offenses, but the “Tent City” camp was set up like a maximum prison facility with electric fences.

He arrested a six-year-old. Soon after President Obama halted deportations by providing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals for young immigrants in 2012, Arpaio arrested a six-year-old during an immigration sweep. There are some contentions as to whether the young child who was inadequately treated was in custody or arrested. One of the amendments in the Senate immigration bill, which Arpaio has opposed, would allow for adequate care for minors. This was not the first time that Arpaio targeted children: he also once separated a mother from her two children during an immigration sweep.


He claimed Mexican border-crossers were infected with swine flu. Arpaio was reportedly excited when he found out that the swine flu, which had killed 150 people, came from Mexico. His press release equated all Mexican border crossers to swine-flu carriers. The press release indicated that Arpaio’s deputies and jail staff were at a higher risk of exposure “considering the thousands of suspected illegal immigrants they come in contact with on a weekly basis.”

He joked that his Tent City was a ‘concentration camp.’ One of Arpaio’s trademarks, the Tent City is capable of holding up to 2,000 inmates without violent charges. During the summer, the temperature can go up to 145 degrees inside the tent that was created in 1993. He even joked about Tent City being his “concentration camp” at an Italian-American Club, then later retracted his statement by saying “I do not recall.”