Yesterday the US Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Maricopa County, Ariz. Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) for unlawfully discriminating against Latinos and generally disregarding basic constitutional rights. The Complaint presents a litany of racial bias, harassment, and illegal mistreatment intentionally targeting persons of Latino origin, including US citizens.
The Complaint contains shocking allegations. A US citizen Latina woman, five months pregnant, was stopped in her own driveway. When she got out of her car, “the officer then insisted that she sit on the hood of the car. When she refused, the officer grabbed her arms, pulled them behind her back, and slammed her, stomach first, into the vehicle three times. He then dragged her to the patrol car and shoved her into the backseat.” The charge: failure to provide identification. Another US-born Latina was held in custody for four hours to determine whether she was lawfully in the United States. According to Arpaio, “That’s just normal police work.”
MCSO jail personnel routinely made racial slurs against Latino detainees, calling them ‘”wetbacks,” “Mexican bitches,” “fucking Mexicans,” and “stupid Mexicans.” The Complaint alleges Latino prisoners were placed in solitary confinement for "extended periods of time" for not understanding commands in English. MCSO supervisors widely distributed an email that showing a photograph of a Chihuahua dog in swimming gear with the caption “‘Rare Photo of a Mexican Navy Seal.”
When it drafts a Federal Court Complaint, the Department of Justice does not make these things up. These allegations in this Complaint are the result of a lengthy investigation by the Department’s Civil Rights Division. Here is a complete copy of the Complaint, courtesy of the American Immigration Council.