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Notorious Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Court to Face Racial Profiling Charges

- Common Dreams staff

Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona's Maricopa County is in court Thursday to face allegations that his office engaged in systematic racial profiling, violating the civil rights of the Latino community and others caught up in the county's sweeping measures on immigration.

(Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images) Arpaio faces a class action lawsuit that "charges that Sheriff Arpaio and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (“MCSO”) have unlawfully instituted a pattern and practice of targeting Latino drivers and passengers in Maricopa County during traffic stops.  MCSO’s practices discriminate on the basis of race, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and have resulted in prolonged traffic stops and baseless extended detentions, in violation of the Fourth Amendment."

"At trial we will prove that Sheriff Arpaio's fixation on immigration enforcement and his equating of, quote, ‘illegal' with 'Latino' has resulted in systemic civil rights violations," said Cecillia Wang, director of the Immigrants Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union.

Regardless of the verdict, similar anti-immigrant behavior is not likely to end, because, as Michelle Chen writes, Arpaio is merely "a symptom of a lesion that runs deep in America’s political culture."

The trial ends Aug. 2.

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