Sep 4, 2017
On August 25th, in a show of thuggish, racist unity, Donald Trump pardoned Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona.
Arpaio became notorious for his arrest and brutal treatment of anyone he suspected of being an illegal immigrant in Maricopa County – in other words, anyone with brown skin. He and his deputies would stop and detain people for no other reason than having the “wrong” skin color, and if they couldn’t produce an ID, he would ship them out to the desert, and hold them in what he proudly called concentration camps: tent prisons where temperatures would regularly cross 120 degrees in the summer and dive below freezing in the winter. He set up webcams to humiliate these prisoners publicly – including in the women’s toilets. He provided inadequate food and water, even as the prisoners were broiling in the desert sun. Not surprisingly, people died.
Arpaio was ordered by a federal judge to stop arresting people solely based on the color of their skin. He not only refused, but he openly bragged that he was refusing. Because of this he was convicted of contempt of court for disobeying the court order. He was also voted out of office last year; apparently the voters of the county had had enough.
This is the man that Trump rushed to pardon – even before his sentence was handed down, a sentence that would have been at most six months in jail! Trump rushed to use his very first pardon to exonerate this brutal racist.
And not only that, but Trump made it clear that he agrees with everything Arpaio has done. He said that Arpaio had been treated “unbelievably unfairly,” and that he had been convicted for “doing his job.”
In rushing to defend such a man for such crimes, Trump has signaled what is most important to him: sending a message to his most ardent supporters, his racist, anti-immigrant supporters, that he continues to be their guy.
Trump sees this brutal racism as part of the sheriff’s job! And Trump continues to do his job for his corporate cronies: reinforcing this racist society, all the better to attack every member of the working class.