African American Leaders in Arizona Call for Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Resignation
Submitted by Opal Tometi, National Organizer, Black Alliance for Just Immigration
PHOENIX, AZ - After reading the Press Release of the Department of Justice titled, “DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE RELEASES INVESTIGATIVE FINDINGS ON THE MARICOPA COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE,” dated December 15, 2011 and reading the letter from Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez dated December 15, 2011 to Bill Montgomery, Maricopa County Attorney, African-American leaders unite with other justice-loving citizens and organizations calling for the resignation of Sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio.
During a meeting with Assistant Attorney General Perez, as he briefed a diverse group of community leaders on the afternoon of December 15, 2011, Dr. Warren H. Stewart, Sr., Senior Pastor of the First Institutional Baptist Church, Phoenix, Arizona, made the following remarks, “This Department of Justice Press Release is like déjà vu. Fifty years ago this was happening to African-Americans all over the country and especially in the Deep South. All we have to do is to substitute African-Americans for Latinos in this document and it reminds us of how Blacks were treated during the Civil Rights Movement era (and often continue to be prejudged because of skin color even today). ... Those of us who believe in justice and the Constitution of the United States of America will not be silent. We must call for the Sheriff’s resignation. We must speak to the powers that be, the Maricopa County Supervisors, and put pressure on them that the Sheriff needs to go. This document is proof that we have become the Alabama of the 21st century. It’s like Sheriff Bull Connor has come to Arizona.”
According to the findings of the Department of Justice, Assistant Attorney General Perez remarked, “... this is the worst case of racial profiling seen in the U.S. in the last 40 years.”
Therefore, we call for the resignation of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. We will not be silent! Although the Department of Justice plans to work with the MCSO to fix the unjust practices and problems existing in that office, we do not feel that the problems noted in the findings of discriminatory policing, unlawful retaliation and discriminatory jail practices can be corrected with Sheriff Arpaio remaining at the helm of the MCSO. He has been the unapologetic, “in-your-face” perpetrator of mean-spirited actions and attacks on members of the Latino community far too long. He has become a malignant cancer that must be removed if the body politic of the MCSO is to ever become healthy and properly functioning again.
Millions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted as a direct consequence of Sheriff Arpaio’s unfair, vindictive, arrogant attitudes and actions violating human and civil rights. Moreover, Arpaio’s victims have been fellow human beings created in the image and likeness of God, regardless of their skin color, language of preference and national origin.
Consequently, we, African-American leaders, in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Cesar Chavez, join our Latino brothers and sisters, and persons of every race, ethnicity, creed, color, class and political persuasion who believe that we are “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all” in calling for Sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio to resign.
Community Leaders Support List
- Dr. Warren H. Stewart, Sr., Senior Pastor, First Institutional Baptist Church
- Wilbert Nelson, State President, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
- The Reverend Oscar Tillman, President, Maricopa County Branch of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
- Phoenix City Councilman Michael Johnson
- Henry M. Wade, Arizona Association of Real Estate Brokers
- George Dean, Executive Director, Greater Phoenix Urban League
- Pastor James N. Harris, Jr., Moderator, Central District Missionary Baptist Association
- Cloves C. Campbell, Jr., Arizona Informant Newspaper, Former State Legislator
- Michael Berry, National Association of Minority Contractors
- Former Phoenix City Councilman Calvin C. Goode
- Senator Leah Landrum Taylor, Arizona State Legislature
- Gene Blue, Arizona Opportunities Industrialization Center
- Mel Hannah, Chairman, African American Legislative and Leadership Council
- Bishop Henry L. Barnwell, Full Gospel International Fellowship
- Bishop Harvey T. Young, Arizona Churches of God in Christ
- Pastor James N. Preston, Bethesda Community Baptist Church
- Superintendent Felton King, Emmanuel Church of God in Christ
- Pastor Aubrey L. Barnwell, Senior Pastor, First New Life Missionary Baptist Church
- Bob Boyd, Chairman, Combined Fraternal Organization of South Phoenix
- Opal Tometi, National Organizer, Black Alliance for Just Immigration
- Dr. George Brooks, Jr.
- Tonya Norwood, Community Leader
- Gail G. Knight, Community Leader
- Michael Williams, Educator