Tucson, Ariz. — Once again Donald Trump has embraced white supremacy and condoned racist police terror. On Aug. 25, he pardoned notorious Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of criminal contempt this past July for defying a court order to cease his anti-immigrant persecution.
Arpaio was sheriff of Maricopa County, which includes the Phoenix metropolitan area, from 1993 until 2016. During those twenty-plus years he directed and oversaw a reign of terror targeting the Latinx community, in particular immigrants. His Tent City prison, where temperatures would reach 125 degrees inside the tents during summer, was a concentration camp where detainees awaiting trial were consistently humiliated, served spoiled food and denied medical attention.
In 2008, a federal judge ruled that the conditions at all of Arpaio’s jails violated the U.S. Constitution.
Arpaio’s “immigration sweeps” would target entire neighborhoods and towns with invading cops who would stop, harass and detain residents at will. In 2008, Arpaio was met with resistance from the entire town of Guadalupe, Ariz., and forced to retreat. Guadalupe is a small town in Maricopa County whose population is mostly of the Indigenous Yaqui nation.
In 2009, when Nazis marched in Phoenix with the protection of the Phoenix Police Department and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, Arpaio was caught on tape giving information on the anti-Nazi protesters to the Nazi leaders. (tinyurl.com/y7danuee)
An investigation of Arpaio by the U.S. Department of Justice was the result of years of pressure by popular organizations and people in the streets. Massive demonstrations of tens of thousands were repeatedly held in Phoenix, with other rallies occurring at the various jails and detention centers, and at the Wells Fargo building downtown, where Arpaio was given an office.
Trump’s outrageous pardon of this criminal has been denounced by activists and mainstream politicians alike, with some calling Arpaio the Bull Connor of this century, referencing the Birmingham, Ala., sheriff who brutalized Black Civil Rights Movement protesters in the 1960s.
Carlos Garcia, executive director of Puente, a community organization and major force in the anti-Arpaio struggle, stated: “What Donald Trump did was not just pardon Arpaio, but tie himself to the history of white supremacy. … We will use this anger to take out Donald Trump in the same way we took out Arpaio.” (tinyurl.com/yd79uhhz)