Trump’s Most Recent Shout to White Supremacists: I’m With You

This piece originally ran in The Washington Post.

Cecillia Wang is deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union. She was one of the attorneys who litigated the civil rights case against former Maricopa County, Ariz., sheriff Joe Arpaio brought by the ACLU and partner organizations.

President Trump rallied his crowd in Phoenix on Tuesday night by invoking the name of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio. The reaction was exactly as expected.

“Do the people in this room like Sheriff Joe?” Trump asked the crowd to thunderous applause. “I’ll make a prediction: I think he’s going to be just fine.”

With those words, Trump effectively promised to pardon Arpaio, who was convicted of criminal contempt of court, publicly disgraced and voted out of office by the majority of Maricopa County, Ariz., voters. In doing so, the president of the United States sealed another deal with an emboldened white-nationalist movement in our country.

Trump claims Arpaio was convicted for “doing his job.” That’s false. After the community rose up to stop his policies of racial profiling and illegal traffic stops — represented by lawyers at the American Civil Liberties Union and its partner organizations — a federal court ordered an end to those unconstitutional policing tactics.

Arpaio repeatedly showed “flagrant disregard” for a court order requiring him to stop illegal detentions and was again held accountable, first through a civil contempt-of-court trial in the civil rights case and then through a criminal-contempt prosecution by the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section before a different district judge.

Arpaio was duly convicted based on damning evidence that he violated court orders and did so deliberately — including Arpaio’s own statements to the press and the testimony of his former attorney and lower-ranking commanders that they had explained to Arpaio that his detention policy violated the court order but that he continued the policy anyway.

Arpaio is due to be sentenced for criminal contempt on Oct. 5. But now the president of the United States, who made a point of campaigning with Arpaio to crowds calling for more xenophobic policies, has thrown the power of his office behind Arpaio. The message to their mutual supporters is clear: The president would like law enforcement officials who pursue racist policies to be above the law.

Anyone who has paid attention to Trump’s policies knows that a potential pardon for Arpaio would not be his first expression of official racism. As a candidate, Trump made openly racist statements against Mexicansand Muslims. As president, he has followed through on those statements by promulgating policies that attack immigrants and communities of color.

In his first week in office, Trump issued a trio of discriminatory executive orders. On Jan. 25, Trump issued one to build a wall on the southern border and another to unleash a massive deportation force, including measures to force local police into Arpaio-style tactics that have led to racial profiling and damage to public safety. Two days later, Trump issued his infamous ban on the admission of all refugees as well as all immigrants and visitors from seven majority-Muslim countries.

When white supremacists marching in Charlottesville praised Trump’s policies, this is what they were praising. A pardon of Arpaio should be seen for what it is: the latest attack on people of color by Trump.

The same core of white-supremacist support that cheered Trump’s initial response to violence in Charlottesville — blaming people on “many sides” for the deadly incident — also fueled Arpaio’s racist policies. Arpaio supporters successfully demanded immigration sweeps based merely on the presence of Latino day laborers or Spanish-speaking employees in their neighborhoods. Arpaio spoke to this same constituency when, after being held in check by federal court orders, he defiantly said that no one could tell him what to do.

Neither Trump nor Arpaio can change the fact that federal courts held Arpaio accountable for his civil rights violations, or that the people of Maricopa County kicked Arpaio out of office. But if Trump follows through with the pardon, he will go down in history as the president whose first exercise of the pardon power was a shout to white supremacists: I’m with you.

Add a comment (22)
Read the Terms of Use

Kage

Due to the violence, destruction of public and private property caused, by the Alt Left and the racism of the Alt Right. I thought I'd do some research and it turns out both sides has it wrong. Look at the attached links and decide for yourself about slave traders, Southerner’s attitude about slaves and blacks in the 1860s, the Brace and fierce Black Confederate Soldiers, Black slave owners and more for you to learn. With exception the people learned to leave the past behind and move forward towards equal rights and respect. Regrettably their great, great, great and great grandchildren failed to inherit their humanity and wisdom.
https://youtu.be/fVYLswFcI48
https://youtu.be/uHDfC-z9YaE
https://youtu.be/EL-7NRL3BT0
https://youtu.be/CRcex9NEJZE

Also, your assertion that Trump is a racist is misguided. He honestly has no prejudices against any race as shared by many individuals of different genders, races and religions beliefs that work and support him. Regrettably it is mostly Latinos that break our immigration laws by crossing illegally. His stance does not single out any race in his determination to uphold and defend our immigration laws and to take action to prevent further violations. It is also very regrettable that it is Muslims that are attacking is such high numbers other of different nationalities, ethnicity and religions. Having been in a part of a family who was victimized by the Red Brigade in the 1970s I fully understand the need to suspect such groups of violence and the need to vent them and monitor that group.

Anonymous

Well said Kage - MAGA!!!

Anonymous

This comment makes a lot more sense than the entirely biased article itself.

Anonymous

Everyone has biases. As humans we are programmed to analyze and judge the information that comes to us from the world around us and that includes information about other people. I don't think he is as racist as he is accused of being, though. As the President "he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed". That is cut and pasted straight from Article II Section 3 of the Constitution and he's been called a bigot and a racist for doing exactly that because Presidents before him didn't.

As far as the "Muslim ban" goes, from what I understand it more due to the lack of government to guarantee the integrity of the paperwork then the religion. The paperwork we need to vet people comes from their government - birth certificates, passports, etc. If ISIS or a similar group has gotten too much of a foot hold what's to stop them from holding a sword to the head of a government workers child and saying falsify some paperwork or else or just doing it themselves? If its to the point where the government can't guarantee the integrity of the paperwork that is supposedly coming from them then you just can't vet people coming from that country.

Javier

Trump is a fucking racist, he is a damn disgrace to United States.

Anonymous

Keep twisting it Wang. In no way does this constitute Trump saying he is backing White Nationalists. You and all other left wing media types should get the wax out of your ears. How many times did he denounce those groups? How many? Its never enough.We are a nation of laws. Illegal immigration is illegal immigration. What do you not understand? Your former president lied about several things. 7 years ago this happened https://youtu.be/qgce06Yw2ro
Turns out the senator that yelled was correct. Come out of your bubble. The country isnt in shambles because Trump was elected. Its in shambles because your left cant get over it and corporate media bias has its finger prints on everything. The left is trying to destroy everything. Government control over everything including media (you) is not good. Its communism at its finest which is what the left now represents. Do better.

David

Wow; do you really believe what you say? You are entitled to belie and or say what ever you want but I do want you to know that you are not helping anything or anyone. All you are doing is trying to twist the facts and words to support your beliefs. What I don't understand is, to what end? Do you have a goal, plan, suggestion or is you plan just to create sensationalized headlines as click bait. Very sad. You should try to make a positive impact on society.

truthseeker18

People believing that a guy who pays none of his bills, bankrupts others by ripping them off, is currently under at least a thousand court cases about ripping people off and not paying his bills, is a good businessman! Any idiot can rip people off, it's about having a clean reputation by your peers and business associates.... which Trump does NOT have. Nor could he run a country when his lack of political experience and thin thin thin skin are so evident. People can drink all the Kool-Aid they want but they need to stop sounding like such idiots, commenting on their Kool-Aid trips. Perhaps if they actually did business with Trump when one expects to be paid and wait for his lawyers to tell them he's never paying and will keep them tied up in court.... and then we'll see. I agree with David and most self-respecting thinking people also do.

Anonymous

It's simple. Sherriff Joe thumbed his nose at the very legal system he pledged to serve in, putting himself above it. How any commenter can defend this is "troubling" and "sad, really".

Anonymous

The ACLU states the issue as "The fundamental constitutional protections of due process and equal protection embodied in our Constitution and Bill of Rights apply to every person, regardless of immigration status." This statement is patently false. The constitution applies to all the citizens and legal immigrants in the country. It does not apply to anyone else. Seeking out and detaining people who are in our country illegally is the job of all law enforcement officers. Whether a mayor or state governor or even the president elects not to enforce the law does not make the law itself void. The Sheriff is in fact the one who is honoring the pledge he took to uphold the law and the previous president and his blind followers as well as sanctuary city mayors etc. are the ones who have placed themselves above the law by not enforcing it as they are duty bound to do. That is what is "truly sad" and "troubling."

Pages

Stay Informed