U.S. Marshalls seized over 1,400 identification cards and 50 hard drives from the corrupt Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s office in Maricopa County, Arizona on Friday. A judge ordered that the documents be secured after a court monitor reported that they were scheduled to be destroyed by the sheriff’s office in a vile attempt to evade the law. Sheriff Arpaio has been involved in serious legal trouble ever since a suit was filed in 2007 accusing Arpaio’s deputies of blatant racial profiling and discrimination, a case he considers to be a conspiracy of the Obama administration.
In 2013, Judge Murray Snow ruled that Arpaio’s sheriff’s office was guilty of profiling Latino drivers at traffic stops and illegally detaining them. It is also alleged that they regularly stole items from citizens during traffic stops and busts. Since then, the disgraced public official has been involved in an on-going contempt-of-court trial for failing to deliver documents related to the profiling case.
Arpaio, who appears to be willing to obstruct the law by any means available, had for months refused to turn over more than 1,400 IDs, which were eventually turned in by a sergeant who claims to have needed them to teach a class on identity fraud. (There was never any such class.) He was also hiding information on 50 hard drives. On Friday, Judge Snow finally had enough and demanded the records be turned over.
Arpaio admitted in April that his office conducted a secret investigation of Judge Snow and his wife. Lying, stealing, spying, it’s clear that this officer of the “law” has no respect for law or morality at all. Arpaio has attempted to have Snow removed from the trial, but this was attempt was rejected by a judge on Monday.
In addition to his legal troubles, Arpaio has recently caught headlines again for his ridiculous and tired accusations that President Obama forged his birth records. In an interview with CNN, besides bragging that he does not own a computer, Arpaio continues to maintain that Obama’s birth certificate is “fraudulent,” and in June he claimed that he was “getting close” to finding out who is behind it. How ironic that the man who is obsessed with the President’s documents is unwilling to turn over his own when ordered by the court! How pathetic it is that a man must stoop so low draw attention away from his inevitable indictment.
Sheriff Arpaio’s paranoia extends to the current case as well, which he feels is a “political attack” by the Obama administration. However, officials have said that the investigation into Arpaio’s office in fact began under the Bush administration.
Arpaio made his name as the self-professed “toughest sheriff in America,” a no-nonsense guy who was hard on illegal immigrants. In his attempt to crack down on immigration, it is alleged that he ordered patrols to arrest people simply because people were speaking Spanish, and conducted aggressive “sweeps” of Latino neighborhoods in order to find undocumented immigrants. With the goal of fighting illegal immigration, Arpaio and his men embarked on a reign of terror and repression in Latino neighborhoods, stealing items and IDs from the inhabitants, persecuting those who appeared to be foreign- abusing his power in a horrific and very illegal way.
Arpaio has a dark history of obstructing justice. In the past, his office has admitted to withholding traffic stop recordings and deleting emails regarding the sheriff’s immigration sweeps. How can this reprehensible man continue to hold his job serving the law?
Unsurprisingly, Arpaio failed to attend the hearing on Friday where Judge Snow ordered the documents and data to be seized. With his ongoing track record of deception, discrimination, theft, and contempt for the law, Arpaio is a symbol of everything that is wrong with our nation and our law enforcement system.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.