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Anti-Immigrant Sheriff Joe Arpaio Found Guilty (Photos)

Anti-Immigrant Sheriff Joe Arpaio Found Guilty (Photos) Promo Image

Self-described "America's toughest sheriff" was found guilty of criminal contempt on July 31.

Joe Arpaio, former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, was accused of violating a court order in a racial profiling case by continuing to target immigrants, reports CNN.

Arpaio was Maricopa County Sheriff for more than 20 years. The county is home to more than 4 million people, about 30 percent of whom are Latino.

As sheriff, Arpaio established an outdoor jail called "Tent City,"  where inmates wore pink underwear and were chained together.

"Other than defeated Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, the sponsor of Arizona’s strict SB 1070 immigration law, Arpaio is probably the figure most loathed by immigrants rights activists," according to an editorial in Mother Jones magazine.

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"They hate me, the Hispanic community, because they're afraid they're going to be arrested," Arpaio said in 2009, notes Rolling Stone. "And they're all leaving town, so I think we're doing something good, if they're leaving."

The contempt verdict against Arpaio was issued by U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton, who wrote that Arpaio showed "a flagrant disregard" of the court order.

"Not only did defendant abdicate responsibility, he announced to the world and to his subordinates that he was going to continue business as usual no matter who said otherwise," he wrote. "Defendant stated on numerous occasions that he would continue to keep doing what he had been doing."

Arpaio's attorneys argued that Arpaio's former attorney didn't clearly explain the order or seek clarification from the federal judge who issued it.

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They said in a statement that Bolton violated the Constitution by issuing the verdict without reading it to Arpaio in court, and that their client would appeal the verdict to get a jury trial.

"Her verdict is contrary to what every single witness testified in the case. Arpaio believes that a jury would have found in his favor, and that it will," the statement said.

Legal action against Arpaio began in 2007 when a group of Latinos filed a class action lawsuit claiming Arpaio's policing policies amounted to racial discrimination. A federal investigation and federal lawsuit followed.

In 2011, U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow issued a temporary injunction, barring Arpaio from detaining people solely based on their immigration status.

In 2013, Snow issued a permanent order, ruling that Maricopa's policy regarding Latinos was racial profiling.

Apart from the contempt case, two federal courts ruled that conditions in Maricopa County’s jails were unconstitutional, reports Mother Jones.

In November 2016, Arpaio lost his bid for a seventh term as sheriff to Paul Penzone, a former Phoenix police officer, who has pledged to dismantle "Tent City."

Sources: CNN, Mother Jones, Rolling Stone / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr, Gage Skidmore/Flickr via Mother Jones, Peter Yang/Rolling Stone

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