Photos © The Arizona Republic
A lot of news was made Thursday. Unfortunately for photographers, most of it was delivered in dueling press conferences. My morning started at the US Department of Justice offices in Phoenix where Thomas Perez, the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, (top photo) delivered a scathing report on civil rights violations committed by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Department during their "crime suppression" sweeps when deputies blanket a neighborhood and pull over anyone they think might be an undocumented immigrant, and in the county jails, where DoJ officials allege Spanish speaking inmates were not afforded their constitutionally protected rights.
The day ended at the Maricopa County Sheriff's Offices across the street from the DoJ, where Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his lawyers strongly refuted the DoJ claims. (On the right in the bottom photo, with Lisa Allen his spokesperson) Arpaio claims the Justice Department's report is politically motivated by Democrats and liberals in Washington DC and retaliation against him because he's investigating whether or not President Obama is a US citizen. His claim is that if the President is not a US citizen he may have committed fraud by duping Arizona voters into voting for him. Arpaio's claim of a political attack overlook the fact that the investigation into his department was started during the Bush administration and his investigation of the President started just a few months ago, just before the DoJ investigation was concluded. If anything, Arpaio's investigation was intended to blunt the DoJ investigation, not the other way around.
I've been photographing Sheriff Arpaio and the jails for more than 10 years. It's always kind of a surreal experience.