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Justice Dept. Sues Arizona Sheriff Arpaio's Office Over Alleged Racial Profiling Of Latinos

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Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has embraced fame by calling himself "America's Toughest Sheriff" and touting his aggressive stance on illegal immigration. Now the Department of Justice has sued his office for racially profiling Latinos, discriminating against Latino inmates with limited English skills, and retaliating "against their perceived critics, subjecting them to baseless criminal actions, unfounded civil lawsuits, or meritless administrative actions."

The Justice Department's Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, Thomas E. Perez, said that Arpaio's office didn't act on the DOJ's attempts to forge solutions: "In the scores of other cases, we've been able to work collaboratively with law-enforcement agencies because we have a shared interest in improving the department and making the community safer. This is truly extraordinary." You can read the complaint here (PDF)—here's one horrifying incident:

For example, an MCSO officer stopped a Latina woman - a citizen of the United States and five months pregnant at the time - as she pulled into her driveway. After she exited 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. He left her in the patrol car for approximately 30 minutes without air conditioning. The MCSO officer ultimately issued a citation for failure to provide identification. This citation was later changed to failure to provide proof of insurance. The citation was resolved when the woman provided her proof of insurance to the local court.

While Arpaio has said this is President Obama's attempt to get Hispanic voters, Perez said that the investigation began in 2008 before Obama was elected. The DOJ is asking for reforms, including, "new policies and procedures and train MCSO officers in effective and constitutional policing;" new "systems to ensure accountability and improve the quality of policing throughout the county;" and removing "unlawful bias from all levels of law enforcement decision."Arpaio has claimed that the President's birth certificate is a fake.

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