Guilty Verdict for Sheriff Arpaio a Measure of Justice for Latinos and Others Targeted Under His Reign of Terror
WASHINGTON, DC—Today, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton in Arizona handed down a guilty verdict in the criminal contempt case against former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. In 2011, Arpaio was instructed by a federal judge to cease the practice of racial profiling—his refusal to do so led to him being charged with contempt of court. Under Arpaio’s direction, police officers had been instructed for more than a decade to use illegal and aggressive tactics to harass and abuse anyone who was perceived to be an undocumented immigrant. Deputies were instructed to apprehend individuals who had not committed any criminal offense which led to rampant racial profiling, the violation of the civil rights of citizens and noncitizens alike, and did extensive damage to community-police relations.
“We are glad to turn the page on this chapter of division and hate in Maricopa County. And today’s verdict reaffirms what we have said all along, no one—not even Sheriff Joe Arpaio—is above the law,” said UnidosUS President and CEO Janet Murguía.
In November 2016, in an overwhelming rejection of Arpaio’s divisive and destructive policies, Maricopa County citizens voted to oust Arpaio and elect former Police Sergeant Paul Penzone to the position. In the year since, Sheriff Penzone has sought to reestablish trust and open communication with the Latino community in Arizona. Just last month he served as a keynote speaker for the NCLR (now UnidosUS) Annual Conference in Phoenix.
“While this guilty verdict cannot repair the damage and chaos Sheriff Arpaio brought upon so many Latino families, it is heartening to see that in the end, he could not escape that same justice system he undermined to push forward an agenda rooted in bigotry at the expense of public safety,” concluded Murguía.
UnidosUS, previously known as NCLR (National Council of La Raza), is the nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization. Through its unique combination of expert research, advocacy, programs, and an Affiliate Network of nearly 300 community-based organizations across the UnitedStates and Puerto Rico, UnidosUS simultaneously challenges the social, economic, and political barriers at the national and local levels. For almost 50 years, UnidosUS has united communities and different groups seeking common ground through collaboration, and that share a desire to make our country stronger. For more information on UnidosUS, visit unidosus.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.