May 11 -= The U.S. Justice Department accuses the nation's self-styled 'toughest sheriff' of civil rights violations. Paul Chapman reports.
PLEASE NOTE: EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL Arizona lawman Joe Arpaio bills himself as 'America's toughest sheriff'. But he may need an attorney himself after the U.S. Justice Department accused him of civil rights violations. The Maricopa County Sheriff, his office and the county are being sued over a range of allegations. The include unlawful arrests of Latino citizens and denial of their civil rights in jail, racial profiling, and arrest of political opponents under Arpaio's direction. SOUNDBITE: THOMAS PEREZ, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY FOR CIVIL RIGHTS DIVISION, SAYING (English): "The police are supposed to protect and serve our communities, not divide them. At its core this is and abuse-of-power case involving a Sheriff and a sheriff's office that disregarded the constitution, ignored sound police practices, compromised public safety, and did not hesitate to retaliate against perceived critics." Arpaio, who's become the face of hardline efforts to crack down on illegal immigration, denies any wrongdoing. SOUNDBITE: MARICOPA COUNTY SHERIFF JOE ARPAIO SAYING (English): "We are just doing our job enforcing the illegal immigration laws. We are not racists. We do no racial(ly) profile. There is no systemic proof of that, and quite frankly I'm quite happy that we're being sued because now we will make them put up everything they have been accusing me and my office of." Arpaio says the allegations are politically motivated and he'll fight to the bitter end. Paul Chapman, Reuters