To the Editor:
With so much tragedy and horror in the world that is out of our control, it is appalling to me that the president added to the pain and mistreatment suffered by the victims of former Sheriff Arpaio by pardoning him with the simple and erroneous statement that Arpaio was convicted for “doing his job.” It was not the former sheriff’s job to illegally profile Latinx people. It was not the former sheriff’s job to create tent cities that he himself called concentration camps. It was not the former sheriff’s job to physically and emotionally abuse and humiliate people in those tent cities. It was not the former sheriff’s job to ignore court orders to stop these illegal practices.
Recognizing that keeping prisoners in tents in 115 – 130 degree heat, often with no water accessible, and during frigid winter seasons without proper protective clothing was inhumane treatment, the courts ordered Arpaio to stop these practices. Recognizing that Latinx individuals were being illegally stop and detained indefinitely without clear charges or access to legal resources the court ordered Arpaio to stop these practices. He chose to ignore the courts and was eventually convicted of contempt of court.
By pardoning Arpaio, the president showed his own disregard and contempt for the justice system. This pardon is a slap in the face to the local activists who worked for years to bring Arpaio’s abuses to light. It is a slap in the face to the prosecutor and judges who held Arpaio accountable to the rule of law. It is small comfort that the voters of Maricopa County defeated Arpaio’s 2016 re-election bid.
The pardon of former sheriff Arpaio should shock the conscience of every one of us. It should make us pay close attention to the intentions and consequences of the actions this president is taking as he continually attempts to erode the underlying values upon which this country was built. The president’s relentless attempts to divide us by his recent targeting of immigrants, Muslims, and transgender persons should be a warning that none of us are safe in our own country.
The Reverend Beverly V. Waring