President Trump might have pardoned former Sheriff Joe Arpaio but Phoenix does not forget.
During his service as the sheriff of Maricopa County, Joe Arpaio used his power to target Latinos based on racial profiling. He became known for his racism and the harsh conditions in his county jail; in which he made inmates wear pink underwear (with the purpose of humiliating them) and white and black striped jumpsuits. Inmates had to live outdoors in what was known as the “Tent City” jail, even during Arizona’s unbearable heat. Imagine living with nothing but tents to protect you from the deadly sun at 117 degrees Fahrenheit.
Arpaio and his deputies targeted and detained hundreds of Latinos based on suspicion of their legal status, which translates to ‘they look Hispanic/Latinx, they must be illegal’.Those detained under Arpaio’s mandate were treated as criminals and often humiliated.
In 2011, a federal judge ordered Arpaio to stop detaining people based solely on suspicion of their immigration status. Joe Arpaio, however, ignored the judge and continued to detain those he suspected to be undocumented immigrants, insisting that his methods were legal. Arpaio did not halt his tactics for the rest of his served time as a sheriff, up until his defeat by Paul Penzone in the last election.
Just last month, the former Sheriff Joe Arpaio was found guilty for criminal contempt of court for violating the court’s order to stop detaining Latinos solely based on suspicion of their immigration status, therefore violating Lations rights. It was a victory at last, for all the Latino-rights organizations that had fought to see Arpaio pronounced guilty.
President Trump came to the rescue, helping a fellow racist by granting him his first Presidential pardon.
However, Phoenix, Arizona is not having it. Mayor Stanton said, “pardoning Joe Arpaio is a slap in the face to the people of Maricopa County, especially the Latino community and those he victimized as he systematically and illegally violated their civil rights”.
Arpaio’s attorneys requested a U.S District Court judge on Monday to vacate Arpaio’s criminal contempt-of-court conviction in light of his presidential pardon. Judge Susan Bolton cancelled the hearing in which Arpaio’s sentencing would be announced but it did not stop there.
On Tuesday, Bolton ordered Arpaio and the U.S Department of Justice to file briefs on why she should or shouldn’t grant Arpaio’s request; the judge won’t comply without listening to oral arguments. The oral argument is scheduled for October 4th, the day before Arpaio was to be sentenced.
Now we can only wait to be enlightened by the arguments and excuses Arpaio’s attorneys will present to defend the racist former sheriff using waving Trump’s pardon as a magic wand.
It is not to be forgotten that criminal law defines a pardon as an official act of forgiving a crime. President Trump, however, has not acknowledged Arpaio’s crimes, instead he justified them in the statement released by the White House.
“Throughout his time as a sheriff, Arpaio continued his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration,” the statement read. “Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now 85 years old, and after more than 50 years of admirable service to our nation, he is (a) worthy candidate for a presidential pardon.”
According to Trump, Arpaio did not commit any crimes, he was ‘protecting the public’. Arpaio was declared guilty for criminal contempt of court but neither Arpaio or the President seem to admit that violating a court’s order is indeed a crime, instead they are excusing the former sheriff’s actions. If granting a pardon is forgiving a crime, accepting a pardon must mean Arpaio is admitting of his crimes and feeling sincere remorse, which is the reason why convicted criminals request a pardon, but this is obviously not the case since he doesn’t seem to believe that violating people’s rights based on racial profiling and then violating a court’s order is wrong.
It is also to be considered that a pardon itself does not erased the records of the conviction, as Arpaio’s attorneys are demanding. We will have to wait until Oct. 4th so see how far this goes.
No matter what the court decides, here in Arizona, we do not forget, and this extends to all who believe in justice. The people do not forget; all the families he separated and the Latinos he terrorized will never forget what he did as we will never forget that Trump only sides with his kind, racists white people.
Photo: Salma Guzman