Arizona Sheriff Joe Arapio Takes Stand to Defend Racial Profilng Tactics
His 5 hour testimony was much less fiery than his TV appearances
Joe Arapio, Arizona Sheriff in Maricopa County, took the stand Tuesday to face allegations of intentional racial profiling brought on by a group of Hispanics. The lawyer representing the plaintiffs questioned Arapio as he answered uncharacteristically “hushed,” claiming he had the flu.
Allegations against Arapio include the sheriff launching city sweeps based on emails that complain of groups of Spanish-speaking, “dark-skinned” people congregating, though committing no crimes. In Arapio’s five-hour testimony, these emails and other immigration files were brought into question.
Arapio denies any racial profiling.
It is the first time the Sheriff’s office has been accused of racial profiling and is a smaller dispute within a broader civil rights suit filed by the U.S. Justice Department against Arapio. According to reports from the sheriff's department, deputies seek traffic violations and then arrest people for other offenses. Illegal immigrants make up 57 percent of the 1,500 people arrested in these sweeps conducted by Arapio’s office since January 2008.
And the plaintiffs don’t want the city’s money. If Arapio loses the case, he won’t have to pay a fine or face jail time. Instead, the plaintiffs hope for policy changes and a confession from the sheriff.