Joe Arpaio's Next Headache
- Joe Arpaio's Next Headache: Sal Reza Pushes Eric Holder to Take Over MCSO
By Stephen Lemons
February 10, 2010
Hot on the heels of news that Wells Fargo wants Joe Arpaio out of his pricey
executive suites in the bank's downtown Phoenix tower, human rights activist
Salvador Reza is raising the stakes, asking that Attorney General Eric
Holder seek receivership over the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office,
effectively taking control of the day-to-day operations of Arpaio's law
enforcement agency and its jails.
Reza was at the county Board of Supervisors this morning, promoting the
idea. He, along with immigrant rights activists Lydia Guzman and the Rev.
Liana Rowe, made a presentation during public comments, requesting that the
BOS ask for a DOJ takeover of the MCSO. The Board did not comment on the
request, but nativist supporters in the audience expressed their anger by
vigorously shaking their heads in disapproval.
"The MCSO is a dysfunctional unit within the Maricopa County government,"
Reza told me afterward. "It cannot operate on its own anymore. It's frozen.
There's no cooperation between the supervisors and the MCSO. There's no
communications except through courts. Arpaio's going after judges, he's
going after employees, he's going after supervisors, and [County Attorney]
Andrew Thomas is helping him out. So basically it's not working, especially
with Sheriff Joe Arpaio being under investigation by a federal grand jury.
The best thing is for the feds to come and take over."
This latest campaign by Reza, a tenacious Joe-foe who has led massive
marches against Arpaio in Phoenix and spearheaded the drive to force Arpaio
from Wells Fargo with daily protests, actually began on January 31 at the
National Latino Congreso in El Paso, Texas. There, at a congress of Hispanic
leaders, politicians, activists and union leaders from across the country,
Reza introduced a resolution urging Attorney General Holder to take over the
MCSO. It passed unanimously.
The resolution, which you can read in its entirety, here, recommends that
Holder, "exercise receivership of Maricopa County Sheriff Office functions
until Maricopa County Jails and Enforcement comply with the constitutional
rule of law." It also demands that "Sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio be prevented by
the U.S. Attorney General Office from exercising any law enforcement
authority until Grand Jury and Justice Department investigations are
Before you scoff, keep in mind that the DOJ is still investigating the MCSO
for civil rights violations, and that should that investigation end in the
DOJ suing the MCSO, a court-appointed receivership -- such as has been
previously forced upon the D.C. jails and the California prison system --
could be one possible outcome, even if it seems improbable.
"That's what they said about Arpaio getting kicked out of Wells Fargo,"
chuckled Reza. "In fact some reporters, even at the New Times, compared me
to Don Quixote [when the Wells Fargo campaign started]. This is only the
Lesson learned, Senor Reza. No more Don Quixote for you. From now on, it's
all Pancho Villa, baby.
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