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Residents Gathering Signatures To Remove Long-Serving Sheriff

Spencer Platt, Getty Images

A large number of residents from Maricopa County, Arizona are petitioning to hold a special election to remove County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, also known as “America’s Toughest Sheriff.”

Story by: Marc Barraco

“Respect Arizona,” the campaign created to remove Arpaio from office following the judge’s ruling, requires a total of 335,000 signatures of registered voters in order to hold a special election. Arpaio is working with defense lawyers to overturn a federal judge’s ruling on charges of racial profiling, detention and violating suspected immigrants their Constitutional rights.

The ruling set off a large scale demonstration of Hispanic Americans living in Maricopa County, which has been held outside of the County Board of Supervisor’s Auditorium since Sunday.

Demonstrators have stated they wish to “educate, encourage and mobilize citizens to come down to sign the recall Sheriff Arpaio petition.” The deadline to collect signatures for the petition is 3:00pm on Thursday May 30, 2013.

On Friday May 24th, Federal Judge G. Murray Snow, of the United States District Court, made the official ruling that Sheriff Joe Arpaio did in fact violate the rights of Latinos, many of which were in fact American citizens. Under Arpaio’s command, he allowed deputies to search suspected immigrants, “…under the context of immigration enforcement, deputies could use race as one factor, among others.”

According to an opinion piece in The New York Times over the past decade, a gargantuan number of prosecutions have been made in the area patrolled by Sheriff Arpaio, who turns 81 this coming June. In 2002, the number of illegal entry arrest hovered just over 3,000 and 8,000 for illegal re-entry arrests. In 2012 alone, the number of illegal entry arrests sky-rocketed to over 48,000 and 37,000, according to The Department for Homeland Security.

The Court’s ruling states that the Arpaio’s sheriff’s office violated the use of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, which protects against illegal search and seizure and also the Fourteenth Amendment, which guarantees equal protection under the law.

This area of Maricopa County, which includes the city of Phoenix, is the largest populated area of Arizona, and has been patrolled by Arpaio for six consecutive terms.

Arpaio’s Lawyer, Tim Casey has vehemently refused this ruling stating that under Arpaio, “has never used race and never will use race to make any law enforcement decision.”

Arpaio posted a YouTube link on his twitter account, @RealSheriffJoe, responding to the judge’s ruling:

Story edited by: Kristine Bellino


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