Sheriff Joe Arpaio, April 13, 2009
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio says calls for his resignation because of alleged racial profiling are “ridiculous” and that he will never step down.
The resignation demands came Tuesday from the Rev. Al Sharpton, president of the national Action Network, and Bertha Lewis, CEO and chief organizer of the social activist group ACORN. They accused Arpaio of racial profiling in his enforcement of immigration laws. Sharpton said Arpaio is carrying out “a reign of terror” with alleged civil and human rights violations.
Sharpton said if Arpaio does not resign, he will hold a protest march next month in Phoenix.
Arpaio responded, “If they want to come down here, be my guest.”
Arpaio said he is doing nothing wrong and an investigation, announced last month by the Justice Department, will clear him.
Responding to allegations that he pursues suspected illegal immigrants on misdemeanors in an effort to determine their immigration status, Arpaio said, “Police go after misdemeanors all the time. Fifty-one percent of the people in my jails, booked by all cops, are misdemeanors. So why is everybody talking about going after violent crime? Everybody doesn’t go after just violent crimes.”
Sharpton, issuing his resignation demand in New York, said that, under Arpaio’s immigration enforcement policies, “Any one of color is being pulled over and harassed. People are being made to carry their citizenship papers around. And that’s racial profiling.”
Sharpton also called for an end to the 287G program, under which local law enforcement officers are authorized to enforce federal immigration laws.
Reaction to Sharpton’s statements by Valley minority leaders was mixed.