Joe Arpaio and MCSO Officially Sued by the Justice Department for Racial Discrimination
The lawsuit addresses that "culture of bias" the Justice Department's been alleging since it released its findings in December, claiming that Arpaio's office conducts the worst racial-profiling practices it's seen.
The introduction of the lawsuit sums it up nicely:
"The [MCSO] and Sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio have engaged and continue to engage in a pattern or practice of unlawful discriminatory police conduct directed at Latinos in Maricopa County and jail practices that unlawfully discriminate against Latino prisoners with limited English language skills," the lawsuit says.
"For example," the lawsuit continues, "Latinos in Maricopa County are frequently stopped, detained, and arrested on the basis of race, color, or national origin, and Latino prisoners with limited English language skills are denied important constitutional protections. In addition, Defendants MCSO and Arpaio pursue a pattern or practice of illegal retaliation against their perceived critics by subjecting them to baseless criminal actions, unfounded civil lawsuits, or meritless administrative actions."
For those who have perused the New Times file on Arpaio, this doesn't come as a surprise.
"Today, the Department of Justice did something it has done only once before in the 18-year history of our civil police reform work; we filed a contested lawsuit to stop discriminatory and unconstitutional law enforcement practices," Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez said at a press conference this morning. "In our police reform work, we have invariably been able to work collaboratively with law enforcement agencies to build better departments and safer communities. Maricopa County, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and Sheriff Arpaio have been a glaring exception. Attempts to forge solutions to address the serious civil rights and public safety concerns have proven elusive."
Perez said his office had "no choice" but to file the lawsuit, given MCSO and Arpaio's failure to negotiate with the Justice Department, specifically Arpaio's fear of having a federal monitor placed in his office.