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Sat Aug 26, 2017, 03:50 PM

Wait, Do people actually know just how evil this man is? [View all]

by NATHAN J. ROBINSON
If you are a Trump supporter, the president has just pardoned “America’s toughest sheriff,” a man who was willing to fight illegal immigration using any means at his disposal. If you are a liberal, Trump has pardoned a despicable racist, a man who spent decades casually violating the civil liberties of Latinos. And if you are a balanced and neutral news organization, Trump has pardoned a “controversial” sheriff who faced “accusations of abuse” and “defied a court order.” These are the terms on which the debate about Arpaio is had: is he a vindictive bigot who neglected his prisoners or a steely lawman who dared to enforce immigration policy when the Feds wouldn’t? (Perhaps we’ll just call him “polarizing.”)

But none of these perspectives actually capture the full truth about Joe Arpaio. And I am worried that even those who detest Trump and are appalled by this pardon do not entirely appreciate the depth of Arpaio’s evil, or understand quite how indefensible what Donald Trump just has done is. Frankly I think even Trump may not fully realize the extent of the wrongdoing that he has just signaled his approval of. And I think it’s very important to be clear: the things Joe Arpaio is nationally infamous for, the immigration crackdown and the tent city, these are only the beginning. The word “racist” isn’t enough. The word “abusive” isn’t enough. Joe Arpaio’s actions over the course of his time in office were monstrous and sickening. As Arpaio’s officers were harassing, detaining, and beating citizens and non-citizens alike, with jail employees routinely calling inmates “wetbacks” or leaving them to die on the floor, Arpaio let hundreds of serious sexual abuse cases go uninvestigated, in one case resulting in a child being continually raped. He was not just a “tough” sheriff, but a cruel and incompetent one, faking clearance reports for serious crimes while abusing the power of his office to arrest and intimidate journalists, judges, and county officials. Some of Arpaio’s acts bordered on the psychopathic: in a deranged re-election plot, Arpaio oversaw a scheme to pay someone to attempt to assassinate him, even supplying the man with bomb-making materials, so that he could entrap the fake “assassin” and send him to prison, ruining the hapless man’s life. Arpaio treated the Constitution with contempt, inflicting what the Mayor of Phoenix called a “reign of terror” upon the city’s Latino community. Anybody with a hint of a conscience should be revolted by both Arpaio’s record and Trump’s pardon.

Marty Atencio was a third-generation military veteran who had served in the Gulf War. Upon returning to civilian life, Atencio would struggle for years with schizophrenia and homelessness. In 2011, he was arrested for “aggressive” behavior outside a convenience store and taken to the Maricopa County Jail. The arresting officer noted that Atencio seemed to be suffering from a mental illness, and when he arrived at the jail he appeared “off his rocker.” Atencio informed jail staff that he was having suicidal thoughts and was placed in an isolation cell. Later, according to a lawsuit filed against the Sheriff’s office, officers began to make fun of Atencio’s mental state, and when he refused an order to take his shoes off, closed in on Atencio and began beating and tasering him. They dragged Atencio’s unconscious body back to his cell, where he was stripped naked and left on the floor. His was found “covered with bruises, lacerations and puncture marks,” and would never regain consciousness. Atencio would be buried with full military honors, with Maricopa County having to cough up a large wrongful death settlement for his family.

During the more than two decades that Joe Arpaio served as sheriff of Maricopa County, overseeing the jail system, millions of dollars would be paid out in lawsuits over the deaths of inmates. In 1996, Scott Norberg died after being suffocated in one of Arpaio’s “restraint chairs,” after being descended on by “fourteen guards beating, shocking, and suffocating [him].” They were, said an eyewitness inmate, “like a pack of dogs.” After the Sheriff’s Office was accused of discarding evidence in the case, including the deceased’s crushed larynx, his family received an $8 million settlement. In 2015, Felix Torres was pulled over on his bicycle for riding the wrong way up the street, and found to be in possession of drug paraphernalia. While in jail awaiting trial, he was taken to the County Medical Center for severe stomach pain. Though Torres said he had a history of ulcers, doctors decided he had a hernia, and gave him a drug not recommended for people with ulcers. After being returned to jail, Torres, “spent the next few days crying, writhing in pain, and begging guards to help him or take him to the hospital.” Torres began “banging on his cell door and asking for help,” but an officer told him “You’re bullshitting… go to sleep.” On the night he died, Torres asked multiple officers for help, telling them he was dying. “You’re fucking faking it,” one replied. Torres’s family would receive $1 million. (And while it should make no difference, we might bear in mind that at the time of his death, Felix Torres was an innocent man.)

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https://www.currentaffairs.org/2017/08/wait-do-people-actually-know-just-how-evil-this-man-is

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Reply Wait, Do people actually know just how evil this man is? [View all]
n2doc Aug 2017 OP
dalton99a Aug 2017 #1
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