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Obama Administration Delivers a Message to Sheriff Joe Arpaio: The Constitution Does Matter

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joe arpaioAs we mentioned earlier today, there was a significant development in Arizona today: The United States Department of Justice took a strong and welcome step towards ending Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio‘s reign of terror. 

In its three year investigation of the Sheriff’s policing practices, DOJ found evidence of what we’ve long known.  Arpaio has “engage[d] in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional policing”  and “a chronic culture of disregard for basic legal and constitutional obligations.”  The United States Department of Homeland Security also decided to revoke its remaining 287(g) agreement with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and restrict other mechanisms of coordination. Courtesy of Talking Points Memo, the full document can be viewed here.

Here at the America’s Voice Education Fund, we have worked with our allies to shine a spotlight on Arpaio. Today, our Executive Director, Frank Sharry, issued this statement: 

For years Arpaio, a modern-day Bull Connor, has targeted Latinos by the color of the skin and the language that they speak, and bragged about it.  He has neglected serious crimes in favor of enforcing civil immigration laws, and made it impossible for immigrant crime victims to trust the police.  Anyone who dared challenge his ugly reign of terror was subject to harassment and retaliation.

Arpaio’s tactics have had a long reach, as vigilante law enforcement officers in other states have seen him operate with impunity and adopted his approach.  Today’s announcement from the U.S. Department of Justice is a critical step toward ending racial profiling and discrimination in law enforcement in Maricopa County, Arizona.

Today, in Maricopa County, DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, under the direction of Tom Perez, let Arpaio and his followers know that the Constitution and the rule of law do matter.  America’s Voice Education Fund thanks the DOJ and responsible police leaders who have spoken out against Arpaio’s tactics for years.  He must be held accountable for undermining public trust and public safety.

Yes, Perez, the Assistant Attorney General for Civil rights, went right into Arpaio’s backyard to deliver this report. He held a press conference in Phoenix to release the news. And, he’s given Arpaio until January 4, 2012 “to decide whether to voluntarily cooperate with federal officials.”

So, again, kudos to Perez and his team. That’s the kind of fearless advocacy we like to see — and it’s the only way to deal with a lawless bully like Arpaio. 

For more on the reign of Sheriff Joe Arpaio see:

DOJ’s Release of Investigative Findings on Sheriff Arpaio

America’s Voice Education Fund Fact Sheet on Sheriff Arpaio’s Notorious Record