Racial profiling of suspects and racism in the police force has been a subject of concern recently in the United States. However, this is not the first time that such cases have occurred. Roughly ten years ago, there was the case of a notorious police sheriff Joe Arpaio.
The Joe Arpaio story
Ten years ago, Sheriff Joe Arpaio was in charge of the Maricopa County Selective Enforcement Unit. Joe was notorious for infringing on the rights of the Latino community. There were numerous reports at the time that Latinos were being arrested and detained for reasons that do not warrant their detainment.
Moreover, the conditions under which they were held were not appropriate for any human being. The Latino Community made a cry for help against such racism and unfair treatment of their fellows. However, no newspaper or journalist in the county would cover a story on Joe Arpaio at the time since he was feared for his ruthless nature.
Joe Arpaio hid under the context that he was trying to rid the community of illegal “immigrants.” He would give direct orders to the police unit under him to go extra hard on Latinos and bring in any one of the race that was found in the slightest mistake.
As many saw this to be unfair and unjust, few were rallying his support.
Eventually, Joe’s actions were addressed by Snow Murray a United States District Judge. Snow made it clear to Joe that detaining immigrants simply due to suspicion was illegal.
Doubt would not stand as a ground for detainment in any case whatsoever. These talks were done behind closed doors and kept from the public.
In 2011, a lawsuit was filed against Joe Arpaio publicly. The grounds were that he was violating the rights of the Latino Community. This is also the time when the conditions of the inmates who were detained in Tent City were exposed to the public.
This was when courageous journalists Jim Larkin and Michel Lacey began to dig into the issue. Lacey and Larkin were at the time the Executive Editor and the Chief Executive Officer of the Village Voice Newspaper respectively.
The Village News Paper started doing expose pieces on Joe Arpaio. They were the first to investigate the sheriff and present him to the public, and eventually, other news outlets followed suit. Read more: Jim Larkin | Crunchbase and Phoenix New Times | Wikipedia
Arpaio was not having this, he sent his team to Lacey and Larkin’s houses and arrested the two under the charges of exposing the investigation details of the grand jury. Little did the two know that the investigation which they had just published was on them.
The two were detained for 24 days and later filed a case against Joe which they won 3.7 million. Eventually, Arpaio was exposed and not reelected to office and then arrested.
However, recently he has received a controversial presidential pardon from President Trump which activists are vehemently against. Many saw this coming when he came forward and endorsed the president during his campaigns.
Jim and Michel used their settlement money to start the Frontera Fund that helps protect the first amendment right of the Latinos and the society at large.