ACORN Launches Petition Against Racist Arizona Sheriff

by Bertha Lewis on February 10, 2009

There are some things that cannot go unchallenged. They are affronts to human dignity and to what it means to live in America.

Last Wednesday, one of those things happened in Maricopa County, Arizona, where Phoenix is located. There, the county sheriff, Joe Arpaio, drawing on the worst aspects of Guantanamo Bay and America’s use of the chain gang, marched 200 undocumented inmates of the County Jail across the city to their own special tent city. There they are surrounded by an electric fence, as if they were cattle or worse, human chattel. The Phoenix New Times has a compelling story detailing last week’s outrage. And I posted a call to action at my blog on the Huffington Post.

We cannot let this stand. We are circulating a petition that asks Congressman John Conyers, the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, to hold hearings into this latest outrage and the long history of abuse carried out by Sheriff Arpaio. His actions are human rights violations and are the natural outcome of a mind-set that can only see armed solutions to our immigration challenge.

Therefore, we at ACORN, through our Arizona ACORN members, are taking a stand against this action and Sheriff Arpaio’s widespread human rights abuses of American citizens and our immigrant cousins.

We are following the lead of community leaders like Arizona ACORN Board Member Alicia Russell who said, “This march is an extremely callous and inhumane move, aimed directly at degrading undocumented immigrants. In claiming to justify this action as a way to improve ‘budget savings,’ Arpaio is degrading these immigrants, violating their civil rights, and overreaching his jurisdiction.”

Even the conservative Goldwater Institute calls Arpaio’s policies “ineffective” in a report released in December. “[He] has diverted resources away from basic law-enforcement functions to highly publicized immigration sweeps, which are ineffective in policing illegal immigration and in reducing crime generally.”

Help us take a stand by asking Rep. Conyers to lead an investigation into these tactics.

America needs to stand for justice under the law, not the law of “just us”.

In solidarity and strength,

Bertha Lewis
ACORN CEO and Chief Organizer

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