heriff Joe Arpaio faces legal action, yet again, on charges that he has violated the rights of Latino citizens in Maricopa County, Arizona. Already, the county has paid out something like $50m in damages over the years. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) are bringing suit in federal court on behalf of several plaintiffs.
Poor Joe has become something of a caricature of late. He is a symbol of mean-spiritedness, cruelty and racism. He proudly promotes his actions designed simply to humiliate prisoners. The US department of justice has accumulated a mountain of evidence against him, yet drags its legal feet while the racial profiling and arrests continue.
Less than a month ago, I, along with several other religious leaders, were treated to a tour of Arpaio's infamous "Tent City" jail. There, prisoners are kept in tents that reach 130F heat in the Arizona summer. The other religious leaders, including the Rev Geoffrey Black, president of the United Church of Christ and the Rev Dr William Schulz, president of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (and former president of Amnesty International), and I were appalled. The Maricopa sheriff's department has become a collection of thugs with badges.
Several thousand of us – Unitarian Universalists from across the country working mano en mano with local activists and religious leaders – held a vigil outside Tent City last month. It was profoundly moving to see a sea of thousands of people wearing their "Standing on the Side of Love" T-shirts, waving candles and singing in protest. They are taking that determination to work for justice and compassion across the country.
What is happening in Maricopa County must be seen to be believed. I am ashamed that this is happening in my country, that the people of Maricopa County continue to re-elect this tyrant, and that the legal system of my country does little more than scold like an inept parent.
Two years ago, I was arrested along with more than 20 fellow ministers from across the country and a number of local activists. We were protesting Arpaio's "sweeps" in defiance of the ruling of a federal judge. A year ago, I stood trial for that act of civil disobedience. During that trial, I saw deputies of the Arpaio's perjure themselves so blatantly (and artlessly) that the judge disregarded their testimony.
While I applaud the courage of MALDEF and the ACLU, and wish them every success, I am more convinced than ever that the fundamental issues before us are not legal. Arpaio continues to break the law with impunity not because there is a lack of conclusive evidence. Arpaio continues unchecked because some people are afraid and because decent people who know better are timid. This is what always occurs when tyrants rule.
What is truly frightening is that the fear and racism that feeds Arpaio is not limited to Maricopa County, or to Arizona. Arpaio is a hero to the extreme right. Arizona's law is being copied elsewhere.
No American my age can watch what is happening in Arizona and not have flashbacks to Alabama and Mississippi of the 1960s and law enforcement officials like the infamous "Bull" Connor. I would think no European can see sweeps and racial profiling and not recall images of the 1930s.
No one should be treated the way Arpaio treats people. No one.
I hope this lawsuit is successful. More importantly, I pray that people will turn away from fear and demagogues. I pray that we will see our common humanity and embrace our common future.
Washington, D.C. – Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva and Keith Ellison today released the following statement in solidarity with the demonstrators on Wall Street and around the country:
“We have been inspired by the growing grassroots movements on Wall Street and across the country. We share the anger and frustration of so many Americans who have seen the enormous toll that an unchecked Wall Street has taken on the overwhelming majority of Americans while benefitting the super wealthy. We join...
Adam Sarvana and Jennifer Gore 05 Oct 2011 Hits:137 Rep. Raul Grijalva (AZ-07)
Tucson, Ariz. – Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva has introduced the Border Infrastructure and Jobs Act of 2011, following listening sessions around Southern Arizona throughout the summer with business and community leaders on how best to improve the local, regional and national economy. A formal rollout press conference is being held Sept. 28 at 10:00 a.m. at Armory Park in Tucson.
Approximately 235,700 jobs in Arizona rely on trade with Mexico. The number is 252,800 in Michigan, 249,000 in Nebraska and 119,000 in Ohio – states that benefit directly from effective transportation...
Adam Sarvana 26 Sep 2011 Hits:113 Rep. Raul Grijalva (AZ-07)
Washington, D.C. – Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva and Keith Ellison today released the following statement on President Obama’s job creation and deficit reduction plan:
“As co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, we congratulate President Obama on many of his proposals to cut our deficits and balance our national budget. The president’s determination to reduce the large national debt that he inherited after years of costly wars, unchecked defense spending, corporate welfare and giveaways to the wealthy few is admirable. We stand...
Congressional Progressive Caucus 19 Sep 2011 Hits:128 Rep. Raul Grijalva (AZ-07)
Last week, an exchange between Jeff Flake, Janet Napolitano, and Chuck Schumer exemplified all that is wrong with the way in which immigration gets discussed within Washington and how far removed the beltway is from the daily reality and aspirations of people who are marching for immigrant rights this week.
When the topic of immigration enters the beltway, it gets reduced to an issue and divorced from the people whose lives hang in the balance. The dehumanizing view of migrants promoted by people like Sheriff Arpaio and Jan Brewer in Arizona...
Pablo Alvarado | Huffington Post 05 May 2013 Hits:279 Arizona
While Senate leaders, including Arizona's John McCain and Jeff Flake, hammered out immigration reform details last month, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio reminded the nation how rogue law enforcement can still undercut legislative efforts for a pathway to citizenship.
In a demonstration of his notorious intimidation tactics, Arapio's deputies raided three Phoenix-area taco shops and arrested 11 undocumented immigrants on March 14th.
The anti-immigrant raid took place only days after an internal-affairs report found Arpaio's office had bungled hundreds of sex-crime cases. It wasn't an isolated event.
A herculean Respect Arizona recall movement...
Jeff Biggers | Huffington Post 23 Apr 2013 Hits:348 Arizona
Seventeen bills introduced in the Arizona legislature in 2013 can be tied to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and every member of the Republican leadership in the state are current or recent ALEC members, according to a new report from the Center for Media and Democracy and its allies "ALEC in Arizona: The Voice Of Corporate Special Interests In The Halls Of Arizona's Legislature."
"ALEC is a secretive but powerful force in Arizona politics," said Lisa Graves, CMD's Executive Director. "This report exposes how corporations and Arizona legislators, have worked...
Nick Surgery | PRWatch 14 Apr 2013 Hits:149 Arizona
This week, a state civil rights board heard tales of increased racial profiling and police mistrust.
Police pulling people over for minor infractions and asking for documents, rape victims too afraid to call the police, children living in fear of having their parents taken away.
These were some of the stories shared by community members and immigrant advocates in Arizona, who testified before a state civil rights board this week on the enforcement of a state immigration law they say has increased racial profiling and police mistrust.
“SB 1070 is being used as...
Valeria Fernández } New America Media 30 Mar 2013 Hits:678 Arizona
Author and historian John Nichols warned a packed house of Tucson progressives and unionists that now is not the time for complacency. Now is the time to rise up and fight against the forces of greed who are trying to rob the American people of their rights and their earned benefits.
Nichols, writer for The Nation and frequent commentator on MSNBC, held the audience in wrapped attention for 90 minutes as he carefully explained what the current Washington DC budget and debt reduction talks...
Pamela Powers Hannley | Blog for Arizona 15 Mar 2013 Hits:443 Arizona
Thanks to publicity on this blog, social media, and e-mail blasts, progressives and other Democrats came to the Americans for Prosperity "public forum" on Medicaid expansion last night at The Loft Cinema. Too bad we couldn't get in.
Approximately 20 pro-healthcare reform advocates, plus six journalism students, and two bloggers were shut out of the tightly controlled forum. In addition, City Councilman Steve Kozachik was "uninvited" to participate in the panel. Although public announcements of the event in the Tucson Weekly, the Arizona Daily...
Pamela Powers Hannley | Blog For Arizona 08 Mar 2013 Hits:1543 Arizona
In recent months, a handful of Republican governors have softened their stances on Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. Showing a bit of financial savvy and (dare I say) compassion for the millions of poor Americans who would be covered by this, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and others have decided to take the feds' funds and allow expanded healthcare coverage for their citizens who can't afford insurance.
Unfotrunately for the people who would benefit from Medicaid expansion, Big Brother Brothers don't like it when their...
Pamela Powers Hannley | Blog for Arizona 06 Mar 2013 Hits:350 Arizona
PHOENIX (AP) - A political group has filed paperwork with the Arizona Secretary of State's office to launch a recall campaign against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Respect Arizona will need to collect more than 350,000 valid signatures in the next 120 days to force a recall election.
The 80-year-old Arpaio was elected in November to his sixth consecutive term in office.
He filed paperwork last week indicating that he plans to run again in 2016.
In a statement Thursday, Arpaio say he believes the recall effort is over his stance...
My Fox Phoenix, AP 01 Feb 2013 Hits:386 Arizona
In tough times, even the most independent woman may find herself turning to traditional feminine tactics to secure her financial future-- like marrying a sugar daddy.
And what better sugar daddy could a woman find than a corporate person? As reported earlier by this blogger, seven New York City brides married and pledged allegiance to seven corporate masters... er... grooms on the steps of the New York Stock Exchange on Friday, January 19, the third anniversary of the Citizens United decision by the US Supreme Court.
Occupy Tucson activist and...
Pamela Powers Hannley | Blog for Arizona.com 20 Jan 2013 Hits:717 Arizona
January 21, 2010 is a date that will go down in infamy. It is the date the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of Citizens United and declared that corporations are people, money equals speech, and campaign finance reform that limits the amount of money a corporation can donate to political campaigns is unconstitutional.
This decision paved the way for the obscene amounts of money that were spent in the 2010 and 2012 elections and emboldened groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to...
Pamela Powers Hannley | Blog for Arizona.com 20 Jan 2013 Hits:534 Arizona
Border Patrol agents have been caught on video destroying water jugs and removing clean blankets that No More Deaths humanitarian volunteers left in the Arizona desert for border crossers.
From No More Deaths...
Tucson, AZ- A hidden camera video released by Tucson-based humanitarian organization No More Deaths shows an agent of the U.S. Border Patrol removing clean blankets and food intended for migrants in distress.
Videos of Border Patrol behaving badly and more details after the jump.
The January 8 video captures a Border Patrol agent on a...
Pamela Powers Hannley | Blog for Arizona 18 Jan 2013 Hits:563 Arizona
Fun! Food! Adventure! Smiling young faces!
And killing machines?
The poster pictured here advertises the Aviation Open House at Cochise Community College back in October 2012.The purpose of the open house was to showcase the college's new aviation classrooms, flight simulators, and training facilities. Jobs and education for rural Arizona youth-- what could be more wholesome? Unfortunately, the open house also shined a spotlight on the college's cozy (and a bit creepy) relationship with merchant of death and destruction Northrup Grumman-- as well as the college's disdain for freedom of...
Pamela Powers Hannley | Blog for Arizona 18 Jan 2013 Hits:384 Arizona
The Tucson Chapter of Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) has been participating in PDA's national effort to educate Congress. In December, more than 80 letters were delivered to Congressional offices around the country-- including those of Congressman Raul Grijalva and Congressman Ron Barber.
Above, Jim Hannley, a member of the PDA Tucson Steering Committee, discusses the January 16 "prosperity not austerity" letter with Barber's staff. Below is the text of the letter, which also appears on our Facebook page.
If you agree with the points in this letter, please contact Barber's office...
PDA Tucson 17 Jan 2013 Hits:350 Arizona
Washington, D.C. – Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva today released the following statement on Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s recent decision to accept federal Medicaid expansion funds through the Affordable Care Act. Last July, Grijalva led a letter co-signed by 43 other Members of Congress to all 50 state governors calling on them to set aside politics and support the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion in their respective states.
“Today marks a move toward stability and certainty for a Medicaid program that has suffered from years of purely ideological decisions. Gov. Brewer’s choice to expand...
Rep Raul Grijalva | Press Release 15 Jan 2013 Hits:489 Arizona
A national initiative aimed at curbing gun violence was launched by former US. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, on Tuesday -- the second anniversary of the shooting that killed six people and left her critically injured.
A new campaign website, Americans For Responsible Solutions, promised to “launch a national dialogue and raise funds to counter influence of the gun lobby.”
The couple last week visited Newtown, Conn., where a gunman opened fire in an elementary school, killing 20 children and six adults in December....
Alastair Jamieson and Becky Bratu |NBC News 08 Jan 2013 Hits:537 Arizona
Joe Arpaio has thought of less friendly uses for firearms in his recent past. Back in November, the sheriff decided to arm his deputies with automatic weapons to stop “illegal aliens” “attempting to escape” his county.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio will begin sending armed “posses” to patrol around Arizona schools today, in response to the shooting less than a month ago at Sandy Hook elementary school.
Arpaio made a name for himself by abusing the civil rights of undocumented immigrants — and for detaining a six...
Annie-Rose Strasser | ThinkProgress 08 Jan 2013 Hits:557 Arizona
While fumbling Tucson school officials and their extremist Arizona state counterparts await the fate of the outlawed Mexican American Studies in a federal court desegregation order, the prestigious Prescott College announced it will grant college-level credit for a banned Chicano/a Literature course taught by nationally acclaimed Tucson high school teacher Curtis Acosta.
Welcome to Freedom College.
Designed by Acosta and Dr. Anita Fernández, a Prescott College faculty member in the Education Program of the Resident Degree Program, the two-credit Chicano/a Literature course will be part of ...
Jeff Biggers | Huffington Post 21 Dec 2012 Hits:976 Arizona
What a difference a year makes -- especially for students in Tucson, Arizona, the "Little Rock" of education for our modern times.
While President Dwight Eisenhower overruled the "leadership of demagogic extremists" in that segregated hotspot in Arkansas more than a half century ago, federally-appointed Special Master William Hawley and U.S. District Court Judge David Bury will begin the final process of adjudicating the agreements and objections in Tucson's historic federal desegregation order on Friday, which could pave the way for the return of the...
Jeff Biggers | Huffington Post 13 Dec 2012 Hits:590 Arizona
In 2010, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery was among those firmly in support of Arizona’s controversial anti-immigrant legislation SB 1070. Today, he belongs to a bipartisan coalition of some 40 community and business leaders calling for legalizing the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants.
“If you look at the problem from a proper perspective, you can identify solutions that provide consensus,” said Montgomery in an interview with New America Media.
His comments came just hours after the release of the Real Arizona Coalition’s S.A.N.E Solution to Federal...
Valeria Fernandez | New America Media 08 Dec 2012 Hits:585 Arizona
The sun is shining slightly brighter in Arizona this week, as the state celebrates a week-long vacation from Governor Jan Brewer and her latest gaffes.
The self-described "Scorpion eater" has left the Capitol building -- or at least until Saturday, according to the office of Secretary of State Ken Bennett, who is serving as Acting Governor while Brewer is mysteriously out-of-state.
Perhaps Arizona can become the "Grand Canyon" state again. Or, at least, earn a reprieve from Brewer's most recent gaffes and acts of embarrassment for...
Jeff Biggers | Huffington Post 04 Dec 2012 Hits:493 Arizona
Overshadowed by the ballot fallout in the recent elections in Arizona, a long-awaited and historic federal desegregation proposal was released earlier this month that could reinstate the Tucson Unified School District's nationally acclaimed but dismantled Mexican American Studies Program.
The next three days in Tucson could set the stage for one of the most important education revivals in the nation. And one nationally celebrated educator from Tucson -- Mexican American Studies co-founder Sean Arce -- should return to the forefront and stand out as its resilient helmsman.
Jeff Biggers | Huffington Post 26 Nov 2012 Hits:565 Arizona
Approximately 50 Tucson activists protested Wal-Mart's labor practices at a southside store on Black Friday.
The usual left-wing groups were represented-- Jobs with Justice, Occupy Tucson, Progressive Democrats of America…
PHOENIX — Former Democratic state Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has been elected to represent a new Phoenix-area congressional district, emerging victorious after a bitterly fought race that featured millions…
The Maricopa County Elections Department has given a straight answer about the number of ballots that still haven't been counted as of noon on the day after the election: they…
When 20-year Phoenix resident and businesswoman Maria Maqueada turned in her emergency ballot today at the Maricopa County Recorder's Office, thanks to the assertive efforts of Citizens for…
Forty years ago, I found myself on local TV, discussing Arizona history on behalf of the Tucson Unified School District as a student. I've never stopped investigating our…
A spokesperson for the Maricopa County Elections Department admits they once again gave voters the wrong date of next month's election.
Yvonne Reed confirms to ABC15 that bookmarks distributed…
Arizonans who went to their local municipal offices in Maricopa County to pick up their voter ID cards may have been instructed to go to the polls on…
With the “papers please” provision of Arizona’s controversial SB 1070 immigration law now in effect, Bill Clinton roused an overflowing crowd at Arizona State University last week with a…
Join the Progressive Democrats of America for a free book talk and signing with Jeff Biggers. The Nation Books author presents his latest work, State Out of the Union: Arizona and…
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