Getting Inside Joe Arpaio’s Head

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A defiant Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, pounds his fist on the podium as he answers questions regarding the Department of Justice announcing a federal civil lawsuit against Sheriff Arpaio and his department. May 2012. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
A defiant Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, pounds his fist on the podium as he answers questions regarding the Department of Justice announcing a federal civil lawsuit against Sheriff Arpaio and his department, during a news conference Thursday in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Joe Arpaio, the 79-year-old  “love him or hate him” Maricopa County Sheriff, was hit with a civil rights lawsuit from the U.S. Justice Department this week, alleging civil rights violations, racial profiling and unlawful arrests by his “volunteer posse.” Arpaio, who doesn’t shy from controversy, says the charges are politically motivated and vowed to fight the suit.

Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, said, “Leadership starts at the top and all of the alleged violations that are outlined in the complaint are the product of a culture of disregard for basic rights… that starts at the top and pervades the organization.”

In 2009, NOW on PBS Senior Correspondent Maria Hinojosa interviewed Arpaio as an addendum to an Exposé report on immigration policy in Arizona, in collaboration with local reporters from Arizona’s East Valley Tribune.

A contentious, unaired part of that interview appeared only on the NOW on PBS website. In it, the tough talking sheriff candidly addresses his ego, defends his controversial tactics and presses Hinojosa on why she uses the term “undocumented” instead of “illegal” to describe people engaging in illegal immigration.

Also, see how PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler addressed the controversy surrounding the Hinojosa-Arpaio interview.

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  • Unsanitorial

    Well, if states rights advocates had had their way public schools in Alabama would still be segregated today. I cannot help but think many backward sadism and racism-dominated states might have formally reintroduced chattel slavery based on race by now. You can see how this week a tiny minority of busy bodies bankrolled by fascists have tried to permanently close the door on same sex relationships with Amendment One in North Carolina. But even after recognizing how hard-hearted frightened Americans can be it is easy to see that Joe Arpaio  is a self-revealed thug and megalomaniac who makes the relatively civilized behavior of George Corley Wallace in 1963 seem sophisticated by comparison. Wallace failed to block Black students from the education to which they were Constitutionally entitled  by standing in the schoolhouse door, but stormtrooper Arpaio stands in the jail door humiliating and torturing  innocent Hispanics. Federal authority put Wallace in his place, but now that it has relented and serves only corporate masters, an international court may be required to address crimes against humanity such as our Arpaios perform. American worker, every blow Sheriff Joe’s minions administer screams, “You’re next!”
    The jails of Maricopa County foretell the fate of any American with a conscience. Arpaio closely resembles warlords who performed genocide under the identity politics of collapsing
    Yugoslavia. We are overdue in nipping him in the bud.

  • Gillian

    What is shocking to me is that Sheriff Joe had no idea who Elie Wiesel was.   I’m sure Maria was surprised too.


  • Anonymous

    Hinojosa:”Elie Wiesel, the survivor of the Holocaust. Do you know Elie Wiesel?
    Arpaio shakes his head.
    Hinojosa: “…the Nobel Peace Prize winner …”
    Arpaio: “No.”
    Hinojosa: “… who survived the Holocaust …”
    Arpaio: “So, what’s the point?”

    The point is the people of Arizona are banning books because their leaders won’t read! 

    “Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it.” ~ Jorge Santayana 

  • Glenn

    Sheriff Joe is absolutely right. Illegals aren’t saints or heroes or victims. They’re liars and cheaters just like other people who deliberately break the law. The biggest victims of illegal immigration are the poorest and most vulnerable American citizens and legal immigrants who have to compete head to head for employment and other opportunities with illegals.They’re the ones who suffer the most from declining wages, overcrowded schools and emergency rooms etc. The people who play by the rules are the ones to admire not the illegals and the greedy scum who profit from them.