Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio took the stand for six hours this week in a civil rights trial accusing him of using racial profiling to target undocumented immigrants in Arizona. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund filed the lawsuit on behalf of residents targeted at traffic stops for detention, despite having a valid visa and identification. As Arpaio testified, four undocumented immigrants were arrested outside the courthouse for blocking an intersection and had immigration detainers placed on them in jail. At least one now faces deportation. We speak with Carlos Garcia, organizer with the "Arrest Arpaio Not the People" campaign and Puente Arizona. Later this month he will participate in the "No Papers No Fear" bus tour with undocumented immigrant activists. Its final stop will be the Democratic National Convention in North Carolina. [includes rush transcript]
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AMY GOODMAN: We wanted to go right now to Arizona, where Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is on trial this week for using racial profiling to target undocumented immigrants. The ACLU and Mexican American Legal Defense Fund filed the lawsuit on behalf of Latino citizens and legal residents, many of whom were targeted at traffic stops for detention despite having a valid visa and identification.
Arpaio’s own words were used against him as he took the stand in federal court on Tuesday. He spent six hours responding to comments he made in media interviews, books and letters. Cameras were not allowed in the courtroom to record his testimony. But we know he was asked about video clips like one from 2007, when he spoke with CNN’s Lou Dobbs about comparisons between his department and the Ku Klux Klan.
SHERIFF JOE ARPAIO: If local law enforcement comes across some people that have a erratic or scared or whatever, you know—
GLENN BECK: Demeanor?
SHERIFF JOE ARPAIO: They’re worried—and if they have their speech, what they look like, if they just look like they came from another country, we can take care of that situation. But I don’t need that, anyway, Glenn.
GLENN BECK: Wait, wait, wait. You’re telling—
SHERIFF JOE ARPAIO: I don’t—
GLENN BECK: Hang on, hang on, hang on.
SHERIFF JOE ARPAIO: I can still do the job.
GLENN BECK: When was that—when was that law written? Because all I hear about is that sounds like profiling, and the government is saying—
SHERIFF JOE ARPAIO: Well—
GLENN BECK: —you can’t profile anybody.
SHERIFF JOE ARPAIO: Well, that law in 1996, part of the—the comprehensive law that was passed, it’s in there. It’s in there.
AMY GOODMAN: That was actually Glenn Beck talking to Arpaio. Let’s go right now to Sheriff Arpaio talking to Lou Dobbs.
LOU DOBBS: How do you react to that?
SHERIFF JOE ARPAIO: Well, you know, they call you KKK. They did me. I think it’s an honor, right?
LOU DOBBS: Well, from the—
SHERIFF JOE ARPAIO: It means we’re doing something.
LOU DOBBS: Just so the right people are doing it, right?
SHERIFF JOE ARPAIO: Yeah, means we’re doing it.
AMY GOODMAN: Lawyers also read letters from constituents who complained about Spanish-speaking residents in neighborhoods where Arpaio later launched his trademark immigration sweeps. As Arpaio testified, four undocumented immigrants were arrested outside the courthouse for blocking an intersection.
LETICIA RAMIREZ: My name is Leticia Ramirez. I’ve been in the community for 18 years. I am a mother of three kids. And I’m here to tell Arpaio that he’s been chasing our community, he’s been chasing our people, and I’m here to tell him that I’m making his job easy, that I’m here, and I’m going to elect—I’m not going to stand for what he’s been doing to my community, and come and get me.
AMY GOODMAN: The protesters—the protesters had immigration holds placed on them when they went to one of Arpaio’s jails. All four were released late Wednesday, but it’s unclear now if they’re being targeted for deportation.
We’re going now to Phoenix via Democracy Now! video stream to Carlos Garcia, an organizer with the "Arrest Arpaio Not the People" campaign and with Puente Arizona. Later this month he’ll participate with undocumented immigrant activists in the "No Papers No Fear" bus tour. Its final stop, the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte in September.
Carlos, we welcome you to Democracy Now! Explain what this lawsuit against Arpaio is all about, which has meant hours of him sitting in this trial responding to questioning.
CARLOS GARCIA: This lawsuit was basically Arpaio versus Arpaio. He was responding to videos such as the one you played, where he had to respond and when he had referred to himself as being an honor to be KKK. He had to respond to, in his own book, writing and referring to Mexicans as "dirty Mexicans," and all the other things he’s talked about and all the other evidence of his own words, his own emails, his own doings of racially profiling in our community. To go along with that, it’s also the damage that he’s actually done, the raids, the community raids that he’s put upon our community with mass deputies coming out to traditionally Latino neighborhoods, detaining and stopping anyone that may look undocumented.
AMY GOODMAN: And explain who exactly brought this suit, Carlos Garcia.
CARLOS GARCIA: This suit was brought forth by the ACLU. The Melendez case was one of them. But it was eventually turned into a class action lawsuit, so it’s basically all Latinos in Maricopa County versus Sheriff Joe Arpaio, saying that anyone that looks like us, that looks brown, is challenging and bringing this suit forth, saying that Joe Arpaio is racially profiling.
AMY GOODMAN: What does this all mean for Arpaio’s reign as sheriff in Maricopa County? This is separate from a lawsuit being brought by the Justice Department against the sheriff, against Arpaio, right, Carlos?
CARLOS GARCIA: Yeah, it’s separate from the Department of Justice, who has now just decided to go into a lawsuit for the same charges, for racially profiling. I think this just means more evidence of the things we’ve known for the last four years.
AMY GOODMAN: But, of course, he’s running for re-election.
CARLOS GARCIA: Arpaio is not alone, and Arpaio—
AMY GOODMAN: He’s running for re-election, Carlos. Very quickly—we just have 10 seconds—the organizing that’s going on outside?
CARLOS GARCIA: Yes, the four brave people that risked arrest, four of them were detained. One of them is still in detention, Miguel. He’s still put on an ICE holding cell in Arpaio’s jail. They stood up. They risked everything, being undocumented people, did it for themselves, their family and the entire community.
AMY GOODMAN: That does it for our show. I want to thank you very much for being with us.