Let me break this down. Sheriff Arpaio was found to have repeatedly violated the U.S. Constitution by racially profiling Hispanics – stopping drivers simply because they appeared Latinx, detaining them without charges, conducting illegal searches and seizures. If you are white, please stop for minute and think what that would be like – to be stopped and put in jail for hours, days, at any time, for no reason, only because of some group you belong to. Try to make this less abstract, so that you can imagine the violation and helplessness of that position. Arpaio’s office did this ROUTINELY, as a matter of course. He kept the jails overfull of innocent people, some undocumented, some not (the case was initially brought by a Mexican tourist with a valid visa). Our Bill of Rights is supposed to protect us from this. The DOJ investigation found that Arpaio oversaw “the worst pattern of racial profiling in U.S. history.” The court laid out steps that would have to be taken to ensure the practices stopped – but they didn’t. Arpaio has repeatedly refused to comply with the Court and the Dept. of Justice. He refused independent oversight. He flaunted and bragged about his defiance, as his office continued to target Latinx people for baseless stops and detention. After YEARS of back-and-forth, he was finally convicted of criminal contempt of court – which Trump just pardoned him for.
Pardons are always weird – the executive overriding the judicial branch. But this is beyond that. This isn’t commuting a sentence, or pardoning a regular criminal act. This is pardoning defying the courts, this is pardoning violating the Constitution, this is pardoning violating civil rights. This President is saying “don’t listen to the courts if you’re doing things I like.” He is saying his allies don’t have to ABIDE BY THE U.S. CONSTITUTION. This is a very real crisis.
But beyond even that, Trump has pardoned a genuinely evil man. A man who has denied prisoners food, medical care, access to toilets. A man who erected a “Tent City” prison to deal with overflow where temperatures reached 145′ F – a TENT CITY HE HIMSELF REFERRED TO AS A “CONCENTRATION CAMP.” He prides himself on his cruelty, and has no interest in the rule of law. (To say nothing of his other colorful exploits: concocting a fake assassination plot against him to get himself reelected (and keeping an innocent kid in jail from the age of 18-22 awaiting trial for this “assassination attempt”), ordering that the Judge who had ruled against him be investigated (and the judge’s family, too!) in an attempt to obstruct justice… )
Arpaio is the most glaring example, but even just typing “stopped for no reason, detained for hours or days,” it is inescapable that these sorts of offenses and worse happen across our nation ALL THE TIME, targeting blacks, Latinx, and Native people. Arpaio was just more notorious, because he’s so unapologetic. But this is completely unconstitutional, as well as evil – and the ONLY way to address this is through our courts.
The Nazis aren’t just stirring. The Nazis are here, and they are being protected by this President – he is saying the Constitution does not apply to people of color, your rights have no meaning, the courts have no power.
We all keep waiting for it to get worse. It IS worse. Raids are happening. Rights are evaporating. Cruelty is being rewarded over justice. Cavemen win.