During his 24-year tenure as sheriff, Arpaio proudly strove to implement white nationalism through a brutal assault on Maricopa County’s Latino population. His barbaric tactics included extreme racial profiling and sadistic punishments that involved the torture, humiliation, and degradation of Latino inmates. Courts repeatedly found that Arpaio violated the United States Constitution, but the sheriff often ignored their efforts to rein him in. There are few more potent symbols of mainstream white nationalism than Arpaio. Taken together with Tuesday’s unhinged press conference, Trump’s praise of Arpaio proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the president has made common cause with white nationalists.
Many of Arpaio’s worst abuses are documented in a 2011 Justice Department report on the sheriff’s office. At the time, a DOJ expert said that Arpaio oversaw the worst pattern of racial profiling he had ever seen. The agency found that Arpaio’s deputies had consistently targeted and harassed Latinos, pulling them over far more frequently than non-Latinos. Arpaio’s office initiated “immigration-related crime suppression activities” when 911 callers complained about Spanish speakers and individuals with “dark skin.” It conducted immigration sweeps that routinely violated the Fourth Amendment. And in many instances, officers detained lawful Latino residents for hours, days, or weeks based on fabricated or exaggerated charges.
Those individuals unfortunate enough to languish in the county jails, which Arpaio’s office operated, suffered grievously. Arpaio’s deputies allegedly put Spanish-speaking inmates in solitary confinement to punish them for not understanding English. They also refused to accept requests for basic daily services that were written in Spanish and pressured Latino inmates into signing deportation forms.