Tonight, President Trump heads to Arizona for a campaign rally, at which he’s expected to pardon America’s most racist sheriff, Joe Arpaio, for ignoring a judge’s request to halt his discriminatory racial profiling techniques.
The Mayor of Phoenix, however, has made it quite clear that President Trump isn’t welcome in his city. Mayor Greg Stanton issued an op-ed in the Washington Post this morning in which he declared that now is “not the time” for the President to visit Phoenix, arguing that it would only inflame racial tensions even more than he has already with his appalling response to the neo-Nazi violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
America is hurting. And it is hurting largely because Trump has doused racial tensions with gasoline. With his planned visit to Phoenix on Tuesday, I fear the president may be looking to light a match.
That’s why I asked the president to delay his visit. It’s time to let cooler heads prevail and begin the healing process.
I’m not optimistic the White House will heed that call.
It’s clear that President Trump is ignoring his call and will hold the rally anyway, in sore need of throwing his base a bone after very publicly walking back on his campaign promises to end the wasteful and interminable U.S. occupation of Afghanistan. Mayor Stanton went on to condemn the idea of pardoning Joe Arpaio, listing his litany of crimes and detailing how his racism tore communities apart.
Let’s be clear: A pardon of Arpaio can be viewed only as a presidential endorsement of the lawlessness and discrimination that terrorized Phoenix’s Latino community. Choosing to announce it in Phoenix — especially in the wake of Charlottesville — would add insult to very serious injury and would reveal that the president’s true intent is to further divide our nation.
For years, Arpaio illegally targeted Latinos in our community because of the color of their skin. Mothers and fathers lived in fear as they dropped off their kids at school. Kids lived in fear of their parents being arrested and taken away.
A federal court ruled Arpaio’s tactics violated the law. After he defied a judge’s orders, he was convicted of criminal contempt. In convicting him, U.S. District Judge Susan R. Bolton noted that Arpaio “announced to the world and to his subordinates that he was going to continue business, as usual, no matter who said otherwise.”
Our community is moving on and moving forward from Arpaio’s divisive legacy. A pardon won’t change the fact that Arpaio was convicted of a crime, nor will it shake our resolve to keep building a city that is welcoming, is inclusive and provides opportunities for anyone willing to work for them.
Mayor Stanton’s powerful words should give Trump some pause and hopefully will dissuade him from handing the racist far-right another moral victory – but Trump has made it far too clear at this point that he stands by racism and white supremacy.