Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

March 11, 2009

Department of Justice launches investigation of racist Arizona sheriff

DOJ Launches Investigation of Sheriff Joe Arpaio: Advocates Call for Immediate Termination of Contract

Press Conference on Capitol Hill, 1 pm, March 11, 2009
By Chris Newman

PHOENIX -- On March 10, Acting Assistant Attorney General Loretta King sent a letter to Sheriff Joe Arpaio announcing a Department of Justice investigation of alleged "discriminatory police practices and unconstitutional searches and seizures conducted by the MCSO," among other alleged violations of federal law. A copy of the letter is available here.

The formal investigation follows a request by Congressman Conyers that the DOJ take action to respond to myriad complaints of racial profiling in Maricopa County. Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon first requested a DOJ investigation nearly a year ago. And on February 28, over 5,000 people marched four miles through Phoenix to ask the the federal government to immediately terminate its 287g(g) contract with Joe Arpaio.

On March 11, at 1 pm, advocates from across the country and civil rights leaders will join elected officials, including Congressman Conyers and Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, to discuss the investigation in a press conference on Capitol Hill.

"We are very hopeful a Department of Justice investigation will vindicate the rights of people who have been terrorized by Sheriff Arpaio," said Salvador Reza of the PUENTE movement in Phoenix, AZ. "We also hope the Obama administration will immediately terminate the US government's 287(g) contract with Maricopa County while the judicial process takes its course."

"The federal government has the obligation to reform immigration laws and to uphold the Constitution," said Pablo Alvarado, director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. "Its failure to act has resulted in an emerging civil and human rights crisis."

Video footage from Maricopa County is available at
Chris Newman, Esq
Legal Director
National Day Laborer Organizing Network
675 South Park View Street, Suite B
Los Angeles, CA 90057
(213) 380-2785
(213) 353-1344 [fax]

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