Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Reign of Terror Becomes Arizona Policy, Thanks to State Senator Russell Pearce and Governor Jan Brewer | News | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly
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Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Reign of Terror Becomes Arizona Policy, Thanks to State Senator Russell Pearce and Governor Jan Brewer 

Thursday, Apr 29 2010
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One week after Brewer signed the controversial legislation, Arpaio conducted his 15th roundup of undocumented Hispanics.

Arpaio has explained clearly how he and his deputies determine which individuals are brown Mexicans and which are brown Americans.

"If you look like you came from Mexico," Arpaio told listeners of KPHO radio, that will get you searched.

Details

An Opportunity to Stand Up

Village Voice Media is underwriting the cost of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona's forthcoming litigation against Senate Bill 1070, as well as two other immigration lawsuits.

Senate Bill 1070 mandates that a police officer who has "reasonable suspicion" that someone is a Mexican must detain that person. The cop must ask: Are your papers in order?

Similar legislation is under discussion in seven other statehouses.

Arizona has chosen to insist that all law enforcement in the state adopt the police-state tactics of infamous Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Beyond the issue of immigration, Village Voice Media's journalists in Phoenix have been targets of the sheriff. Writers, editors, and our publisher have been stonewalled and harassed. The pursuit of public records has led to the filing of criminal charges against a reporter. The entire editorial staff was the target of a criminal grand jury, and the identities of our online readers were the subject of a subpoena. That particular fight led to the arrests and jailing of New Times founders Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey.

The lawsuit from those arrests is in the appellate court.

For the past couple of years, Village Voice Media's newspapers have helped finance the ACLU's efforts to protect the rights of immigrants. Much work beyond the lawsuit remains on the immigration front.

We would like to extend an invitation to you, our readers, to join in this struggle against the cracker policies of Arizona politicians and certain elements within law enforcement typified by Sheriff Arpaio.

Please send a donation to:

American Civil Liberties Union
of Arizona Foundation
P.O. Box 17148
Phoenix, AZ 85011

Or donate online: www.acluaz.org

All contributions are 100 percent tax deductible. — Michael Lacey, executive editor, and Jim Larkin, chairman and chief executive officer

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On national television, Glenn Beck was informed by Arpaio of his standard: "If local law enforcement comes across some people that have erratic, or scared, or whatever, you know, they're worried . . . And if they have, their speech, whatever they look like, if they just look like they came from another country, we can take care of that situation."

Last year, Arpaio informed the GQ magazine that Mexicans are contagious.

"All these people that come over, they come with disease. There's no control. No health checks or anything. They check fruits and vegetables. How come they don't check people? No one talks about that!

"They're all dirty."

If Arpaio's rationales sound more cracker than constitutional, his popularity for such brazen candor thrust him into the upcoming governor's race as a leading Republican candidate until his May 3 withdrawal from consideration. His popularity reflects, in fact, grassroots support not only for his tactics but for Senate Bill 1070 — support that ranges as high as 70 percent in some national polls.

Even without 1070, the sheriff's reign of terror apparently drove Mexicans out of Arizona. On May 3, CBS Evening News reported that of an estimated half-million undocumented residents in Arizona, more than 100,000 had moved to other states.

Initially, 1070 even caught the eye of President Barack Obama, who labeled it a misguided effort to address border issues that the federal government had ducked. But his promise to move immigration to the top of his agenda faded three days later. The president was soon telling journalists that with all of the political capital expended on healthcare, now was not the time to tackle such an incendiary issue.

Resorting to Orwellian syntax, the president abused decency in declaring that immigration could not be addressed before mid-term elections "just for the sake of politics."

America's first black president's dodging racial profiling goes well beyond irony.

But immigration politics in Arizona and throughout America are a sardonic riddle.

Janet Napolitano made her bones representing Anita Hill in the Congressional hearings into the confirmation of Clarence Thomas as a Supreme Court Justice. More than most, she grasped the issues of dignity and constitutional safeguards. Yet she was Arizona attorney general, the state's top law enforcement officer, when the DPS ran roughshod over minorities. And later she would embrace Arpaio, defend the brutalization of his prisoners, and push the federal government to train the sheriff in the roundups of Mexicans (see "Nope," November 27, 2008).

With the profiles in courage demonstrated by Janet Napolitano and Barack Obama, it makes sense that Kobach, the real author of Senate Bill 1070, is a Christian missionary.

Under these circumstances, where does one find hope?

Personally, I find the words of C.S. Lewis to be more than a straw.

During World War II, he famously broadcast a series of talks that were published in Mere Christianity.

Perhaps Kobach has forgotten these thoughts from Lewis. And it would seem that Obama and Napolitano never read them at all:

"I said in a previous chapter that chastity was the most unpopular of the Christian virtues. But I am not sure I was right," wrote Lewis. "I believe there is even one more unpopular. It is laid down in the Christian rule, 'Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.'

"Because in Christian morals 'thy neighbor' includes 'thy enemy,' and so we come up against this terrible duty of forgiving our enemies.

"Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive, as we had during the war. And then to mention the subject at all is to be greeted with howls of anger. It is not that people think this too high and difficult a virtue: it is that they think it is hateful and contemptible."

Hispanics are not our enemy.

We just treat them that way.

It is not the Mexican who needs to be forgiven.

Reach the writer at michael.lacey@newtimes.com

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