- (Photo: Reuters/Joshua Lott)
The Justice Department has accused Arizona’s Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office of civil rights violations and racial discrimination.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was elected in 1993, is at the center of this investigation and was not pleased with the announcement by the Justice Department. He told the press at a news conference that he was a victim of the political system run by President Obama.
He stated: “Don’t come here and use me as the whipping boy for a national and international problem.” In this case, the problem Arpaio is referring to is, according to reports, illegal immigration.
According to AzCentral.com, Arpaio added, “By their actions today, President Obama and a band of his merry men might as well erect their own pink-neon sign at the Arizona-Mexico border saying ‘welcome all illegals to the U.S.; our home is your home.’”
Thomas Perez of the Justice Department also told the press during the conference: “We found discriminatory policing that was deeply rooted in the culture of the department, a culture that breeds a systematic disregard for basic constitutional protections.”
Investigators have been working since June 2008 and yesterday issued a 22-page report detailing the grievances against Arpaio's department.
The Justice Department has given Arpaio until Jan. 4, to comply with the department’s regulations and bring his office up to its standards. If he doesn’t, the Justice Department “will file a civil action to force compliance with federal law.”
This is not the first time Arpaio has been in the news for controversial practices. He introduced pink boxer shorts as part of the inmate’s uniform in an effort, according to the county’s website, “to keep inmates from walking off with the white trunks." Riding high on the publicity, he later published a book titled Sheriff Joe Arpaio, America’s Toughest Sheriff and used inmates in a promotion.
The American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, the American Jewish Committee have all brought charges against Arpaio and the department.
The Christian Post contacted the sheriff’s office but did not hear back by press time