The controversial sheriff of Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, Ariz., has told the Rev. Al Sharpton to get straight on the facts before “you bring your circus to town” in a futile attempt to push him out of office.
The civil rights leader and head of the National Action Network has threatened to show up in Arizona in June to march against longtime Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his policies against undocumented workers. Arpaio is accused of racially profiling and illegally detaining so-called “illegal immigrants.”
Arpaio, in an April 13 letter to Sharpton made public in recent days, appeared to mock his outspoken opponent, calling him a “publicity hound” and “outside interloper” with no regard for the truth.
“While your public outcries are colorful, there are several instances when you have inserted yourself into other people’s affairs without knowing any of the facts,” he scoffed. “Poor judgment has caused you plenty of trouble in the past and promises to do so again. Most earnest people want to learn from their mistakes. You seem to glory in repeating them."
He continued: “I would like to help you avoid further embarrassment by assisting your understanding of the illegal immigration problem here in my county. When and if you make the trip here, I would like you to call me to talk about these false allegations. … Rest assured that the men and women of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office do not racially profile anyone. However, we do enforce the state and federal immigration laws. And we will continue to do so as long as these laws are on the books. You can parachute into town, stomp your feet up and down and hold more press conferences against me – that is a hallmark of democracy too – but you will not stop me, nor slow me down from one second from doing what is right.”
Sharpton isn’t the only one who has railed against Arpaio’s policies in the past, calling him everything from insensitive to downright racist. Other civil rights leaders, as well as members of Congress and human rights advocates have criticized the four-time-elected sheriff’s policies against immigrants, as well as his alleged humiliation of inmates in his county’s jails. In addition to sending out prison work details as chain gangs and forcing prisoners to wear cartoonishly striped prison outfits, he has also housed inmates in tents with no air-conditioning and distributed male prisoners pink underwear.