A son lamented his father, who died in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s jail. A woman broke into tears speaking about a little girl whose parents were deported by Arpaio’s officers. Others shouted, “He will fall! Arpaio will be defeated!”
This was the scene at a Melendres v. Arpaio Community Advisory Board forum held in south Phoenix on June 24. The board was created by federal Judge G. Murray Snow, who is overseeing the racial profiling case, to engage the community in reforming the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO).
“The board is committed to ensuring that the voices of migrant, indigenous and marginalized communities that have been impacted by Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s unconstitutional practices are heard and become central in the fight to end racial and ethnic discrimination by the MCSO,” said Francisca Porchas, an advisory board member and organizing director of Puente.
More than 130 people attended the forum, some holding signs that read “Joe Arpaio The Devil” and “Surrender Arpaio.” About 25 people stood up to speak about how Arpaio had traumatized them and their community.
“We want to see Arpaio under his own tents. He’s a criminal, and he needs to be treated like a criminal.” Luis Madrid
“[Arpaio] and his family should suffer like me and my family have suffered.” Griselda
“What sort of punishment do you give someone who’s a terrorist? Because that’s exactly what he’s been doing. He’s been terrorizing our communities.”
“We can’t just complain. We have to unite as one movement… This is the time to rise up.” Maricruz
One woman led the crowd in impassioned cries of “Fuera! Fuera!” (Get Out!) Others had suggestions for reform. One man said that after Arpaio is ousted, “the problem will still exist, because it’s systemic through his agency.” He suggested forming a community committee to retrain MCSO officers and build bridges of understanding between the sheriff’s office and Latinos.
Community members’ testimonies will be passed on to the court monitor in the Melendres v. Arpaio case. The case, which was scheduled to resume this month, is currently on hold as Arpaio calls for Judge Snow to recuse himself. In April, it was revealed in court that Arpaio had hired a private investigator to look into negative comments Snow’s wife allegedly made about Arpaio in a restaurant.
“Arpaio is trying to do everything in his power to keep this case from continuing,” announced Alessandra Soler, executive director of the ACLU of Arizona. “We as a community are fighting really hard to make sure this judge continues with this case.”
If you’ve experienced racial profiling during a traffic stop at the hands of the MCSO, you can file a complaint to the ACLU of Arizona and the court monitor team.