Activists plan “freedom rides” to monitor alleged civil rights abuses by Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s office
PHOENIX, Arizona — In a visit that drew heavily on the tactics and symbolism of the civil rights movement of the 1960s, Rev. Al Sharpton came to Phoenix on Friday to call for unity between African-Americans and Hispanics in a national effort for immigration reform, and to confront Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a leading anti-immigrant crusader.
Watch highlights from Sharpton’s visit to Arizona.
In an emotional speech, Sharpton denounced the alleged persecution of Latino citizens and the raids in Hispanic neighborhoods organized by Sheriff Arpaio under the the 287 (g) federal program, which allows local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws.
“Let me make this clear, we’re not here about Sheriff Joe as much as we are here about Citizen Jose,” said Sharpton at Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church in downtown Phoenix, in front of a diverse audience that included Latinos, Anglos and African-Americans. Sharpton had called for Arpaio’s resignation last April.
“You cannot have law enforcement that is based on skin color rather than private deeds,” he added. “If we break the law, arrest me. But don’t make me a suspect because of the color of my skin or because of my language.”