|DOJ slams sheriff's office|
|DOJ slams sheriff's office|
|Written by Mark Nichols|
A two-year investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice has found that a North Carolina sheriff and his deputies discriminated against Latinos by making unwarranted arrests with the intent of maximizing deportations.
According to a recent article from the Associated Press, in an 11-page report issued recently issued by DOJ, the federal agency said Alamance County Sheriff Terry S. Johnson and his deputies violated the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens and legal residents by “illegally targeting, stopping, detaining and arresting Latinos without probable cause.”
In addition DOJ says that Johnson obstructed the federal investigation launched in 2010 by withholding requested documents and submitting bogus records.
Justice Department officials didn’t immediately respond to requests for comments regarding whether or not their probe could result in criminal charges.
For his part Johnson told reporters at a recent news conference that the report’s findings are nonsense and that “the Obama administration has decided to wage war on local law enforcement.”
According to DOJ investigators Johnson referred to Latinos as “taco eaters” and made comments that Latinos were prone to drinking, drug dealing and other crimes.
DOJ says the sheriff set up roadblocks in neighborhoods where Latinos live and that whites were waved through while Latino drivers were stopped.
The federal inquiry said that as result of Johnson’s skewed enforcement, his deputies were as much as 10 times more likely to stop Latino drivers than non-Latinos. Latinos make up just 11 percent of the county’s population.
“If you stop a Mexican, don’t write a citation, arrest him,” the Sheriff is quoted as telling supervisors within his department, according to the report.
And in statements made publicly the sheriff said his crackdown was a success because it was decreasing the local population of Latinos.
“Their values are a lot different – their morals – than what we have here,” Johnson was quoted as saying in a 2007 newspaper article cited in the federal report. “In Mexico, there’s nothing wrong with having sex with a 12- or 13-year-old girl.”
The DOJ report, signed by Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez, outlines numerous statements and incidents that Perez says show there has been prejudice against Latinos.
“The discriminatory conduct we observed is deeply rooted in a culture that begins with Sheriff Johnson and permeates the entire agency,” said Perez, who oversees the agency’s civil rights division. “While Sheriff Johnson often justifies (his department’s) activities by citing his desire to combat illegal immigration, we conclude that anti-Latino bias motivates his selection and enforcement of enforcement priorities.”
The federal investigation also produced evidence that Johnson’s deputies attempted to conceal the real number of Latinos they were stopping and arresting by “vastly underreporting,” and misclassifying Latinos as black when booked into county jails.
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