Monday, July 23, 2012
The civil rights trial against Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the Maricopa County's Sheriff's Office (MCSO)began last week. The self-proclaimed "America's Toughest Sheriff" is scheduled to begin testifying in the case on Tuesday.
The class action lawsuit claims that the MSCO's crackdown on illegal immigration led to discrimination against Latinos. On the first day of trial last Thursday, both sides presented their opening arguments. Attorneys for the plaintiffs saoid that they would prove that the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office engages in racial profiling. The attorney for the MCSO denied the claims.
bout half of the first day of trial was devoted to the testimony of a data expert the plaintiffs hired to analyze traffic stops by sheriff's deputies. Criminologist Ralph Taylor (Temple) found that Latinos were more likely to be stopped during MCSO sweeps, known as "saturation patrols."
The court also heard testimony from David Vasquez, who said he was pulled over by a sheriff's deputy in June 2008 for a cracked windshield. "The first question he asked me is, 'Do you speak English'?" Vasquez said. "I just found it funny that he asked me that question because I felt like he was singling me out. "He said he pulled me over for a cracked windshield that doesn't impair my visibility."
Litigation is only one arena in which Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office has been challenged. Lawrence Downes of the N.Y. Times highlights some of the activists who "fought the power" in Maricopa County at great personal cost.