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How to Lose a Sheriff in 10 Ways

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The fight to push Arpaio out of office has reached a tipping point, according to experts. Here’s how to give him a final shove.

1. Mobilize with the community. Organizations such as Puente, Promise Arizona, and Center for Neighborhood Leadership host numerous protests and public forums with the aim of ousting Arpaio. “We want him to be gone,” Puente’s Francisca Porchas says. “We want justice for all his victims… and all the thousands of lives that he’s devastated. We want Tent City shut down completely. We want real human rights inside the jails. [We want] no more ICE inside the jails. We want to uproot this sickness we’ve been living with for the past 20-plus years.”

2. Galvanize local businesses. Arpaio has hurt Phoenix’s business community by establishing Arizona as a racist backwater, discouraging immigrant entrepreneurship, and terrorizing companies and their customers with workplace raids. Business leaders must speak out against Arpaio and help raise funds for an opponent who can defeat the Sheriff in the 2016 election.

3. Show them the money. Many Maricopa County voters who support America’s Worst Sheriff do so because they mistakenly believe he’s saving Arizona money by “getting rid of the illegals.” Arpaio opponents need to continually set that record straight. In fact, America’s Most Expensive Sheriff has cost the county hundreds of millions of dollars over the years. Including next year’s budget, the Melendres v. Arpaio racial profiling case alone will cost taxpayers $44.5 million. Meanwhile, what have immigrants cost the state? Nothing. In fact, they’ve financially benefited Arizona.

4. Litigate him. Two major lawsuits – Puente v. Arpaio and Melendres v. Arpaio – have given the sheriff a one-two punch. The current civil contempt case in Melendres may deliver the knockout hit. “Through the courts we’ve had some major wins,” says Victoria Lopez, legal director of the ACLU of Arizona. “And those wins have come because members of the community have come forward and… used the courts to end those practices.” Despite Arpaio’s attempts to throw Judge G. Murray Snow off the Melendres case over trumped-up accusations, the MCSO and Judge Snow will be back in court on Monday, July 20.

5. Spotlight his crimes. While busying himself with arresting landscapers and line cooks who are trying to provide for their families, Arpaio neglected to investigate 400 sex crimes against children and allowed homicide rates to increase in Maricopa County.

6. Tell his victims’ stories. It’s easy for individuals’ stories to get lost among Arpaio’s outrageous antics. But it’s important to talk about the pregnant Latina woman who was assaulted by an MCSO officer. And the Latino family who was searched and detained simply for living next door to a house Arpaio raided. And the countless people in his jails who’ve been physically abused and insulted with slurs like “wetback” and “stupid Mexican.”

7. Tell your own story. Melendres v. Arpaio judge G. Murray Snow created a Community Advisory Board to engage the community in reforming the MCSO. The ACLU of Arizona is looking for people who’ve experienced racial profiling during a traffic stop at the hands of the MCSO. You can tell your story to the ACLU and the court monitor team.

8. Ride the momentum of the (dis)approval polls. Only 38 percent of Maricopa County voters have a favorable opinion of Arpaio, according to a recent poll. That’s further proof of a steady downturn: In 2000, Arpaio garnered 66 percent of the vote, and in the 2012 election only about 50 percent. “It’s a very volatile moment for Arpaio,” says Porchas. “He’s in big trouble in the courts, and his ratings are down. And at this moment we feel like we can actually tip the pendulum our way.”

9. Vote in the 2016 election. “The only way and the ultimate way that we’re going to remove him is… to vote,” says Alfredo Gutierrez, former Arizona senate majority leader and founder of La Frontera Times. “And I’ve got something to say to our people, to Mexicanos. We’ve never voted at more than 40 percent of those that are eligible. I’m not sure we could’ve taken him out, but we could have come damn close. And we haven’t done it, and it’s time to do it.”

10. Plan for the transition to an Arpaio-free Arizona. “We know that with him gone, his entire legacy will not be gone,” Porchas says. “We know that we have a lot of work to do beyond him leaving – everything from the terrible conditions in the jails, to the human rights violations, to the racist practices on parole, to what he symbolizes. And the trend he has set for the entire nation. And what he represents for a very rabidly racist conservative base in Arizona and across the country.”