July 19, 2012
Dozens of protestors converged on the Sandra Day O'Connor federal courthouse today to monitor the opening proceedings of the ACLU's racial-profiling lawsuit against Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his office.
Melendres v. Arpaio, filed about four years ago, is a class-action lawsuit that includes plaintiffs alleging civil-rights violations committed by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.
"We do want to see that this justice system finds [Arpaio] guilty of abusing his powers as sheriff of Maricopa County," Promise Arizona executive director Petra Falcon says.
Falcon doesn't believe that Arpaio is untouchable.
She cited the disbarment of former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and the recall of former state Senate President Russell Pearce as proof that public officials who abuse their power can be removed one way or another.
"That's why we're here," Falcon says. "I do think that justice will be served."
Members of the human-rights group Puente Arizona brought two undocumented members of their group out to the forefront of their demonstration. They proudly revealed their names for all media in attendance.
"I've been living in fear for a couple of years now with Arpaio's raids," Puente member Natally Cruz says. "My family has suffered from it. I think it's enough. You're not going to scare us anymore. We're tired of it, and we're undocumented and unafraid."
Less than a handful of pro-Arpaio protestors -- three from what we saw -- came out to support their beloved sheriff for a short time.
One pro-Arpaio protestor -- hoisting a stopthebias.org picket sign -- declined to speak with New Times.
There was a brief exchange of words between a couple of members of Puente and two of the three Arpaio protestors who showed up, but it quickly died down as the two Arpaio apologists left the area.
Puente Arizona and Promise for Arizona will be back in full-force on Tuesday, when Arpaio is set to take the witness stand.