Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hackers expose racism's underbelly: Driving while black, brown or red in Arizona

Driving, and living, while Black, Brown or Red in Arizona
Article and photo by Brenda Norrell
Copyright Censored News
Photos: Arizona border victims by Brenda Norrell

TUCSON -- When the ACLU released the report, "Driving while Black or Brown," exposing racial profiling by Arizona police, it came as no surprise to Native Americans who live in the state. When hackers exposed the racist e-mails of Arizona police officers last week, it came as no surprise to the Native Americans who are victims of excessive force by Arizona police in bordertowns.

When hackers exposed the fact that off-duty US Marine contract killers are patrolling the Arizona border with assault weapons, stalking migrants, it came as no surprise to human rights organizations in southern Arizona. When hackers exposed the fact that a school cop was reporting the diversity class at a Tucson high school to the Arizona Attorney General, that probably came as a surprise to many students and staff at Santa Rita High School. The district is engaged in an ongoing battle with the State of Arizona to save its ethnic studies programs.

What was a surprise when hackers spilled data from Arizona police files? The surprise was that they got caught. Arizona police, private security officers and white supremacists have carried out their abuse and crimes with impunity in the State of Arizona. The Governor, Arizona State Legislature and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio have fueled the xenophobic attitude towards migrants and all people of color. This trio has attempted to create rule by white supremacists in a state populated by 21 American Indian Nations and diverse peoples and cultures.

"The good old boy" system crashed with the servers of the Fraternal Order of Police websites last week.

While the mainstream media fuels the racism, aiding private prison profiteers to fill their prisons with people of color, the media also paints Sheriff Arpaio as a colorful character, rather than examining the poisonous climate of hate he has injected into the region.

What was in those police e-mails hacked last week? There were racist chain letters forwarded by police about immigrants. There were insulting chain letters about President Obama. There was an e-mail praising torture from the police chief of Springerville, located near the Navajo Nation, Zuni Pueblo and White Mountain Apache Indian Nations.

The data exposed a registered sex offender who is a member of the Fraternal Order of Police, and a stalker who was a potential candidate for police chief in Tucson in 2009. It also exposed that a Navajo police officer from Teec Nos Pos discovered Arizona state police were filing charges in state court, rather than tribal court, for crimes on Indian land. The Navajo officer was then targeted by his superior and discriminated against.

Although a group of the worst e-mails have been published, one e-mail was too vulgar to publish. The e-mail was sent to a member of the Fraternal Order of Police, who is a former employee of the private prison profiteer Corrections Corporations of America. The e-mail was vulgar sarcasm about what was actually down to the body of Osama bin Laden. It was sent by a person working at a lighting company in southern California. The same FPO member had an outgoing e-mail with too much profanity to publish.

The data exposed the fact that Arizona police are well aware of the white supremacists and hate groups in Arizona. There are few eyes to witness the murders and rapes in the Sonoran Desert. The victims who are people of color in Arizona are a low priority for Arizona prosecutors. When US Border Patrol agents have been charged with the murder of migrants in federal court in Tucson, they were not convicted.

The hacked e-mails show that Arizona police are well aware that their own data was used when the ACLU prepared the report, "Driving while Black or Brown." The report showed that Native Americans stopped by Arizona police are 3.25 times more likely to be searched than whites. The report says that these targeted searches were uncalled for, since whites are far more likely to be carrying contraband than Native Americans.

Here's a recap of stories from the e-mails and reports exposed by hackers during June, who sail under the names of Antisec, Anonymous and Lulzsec.

Hackers slam Arizona police a third time
Hackers slammed the Arizona Department of Police for a third time on Thursday night, exposing police e-mails with more racism directed at Arabs, anti-immigrant chain e-mails, and crude jokes about President Obama. The release, Chinga La Migra Comminque III, "Fraternal Ownage of Police," targets Arizona's Fraternal Order of Police. The Antisec movement said they are defacing and taking down their websites, on behalf of the rights of immigrants and working people. Read the worst e-mails:

Tucson: Hackers reveal data targeting ethnic studies
TUCSON -- Hackers have once again slammed Arizona police, exposing racism and corruption.
In the second release of data on Wednesday, June 29, in the Chinga La Migra Dos files, Tucson schools public safety officer Robert 'Bob' Barry of Tucson, sent a letter to Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne urging an investigation of studies at Santa Rita High School in May.
Barry tells the Attorney General that students at Santa Rita High are being "indoctrinated" because they are being told about the genocide of Native Americans. Barry calls a diversity speech "hate speech."

Read more:

Hacked data reveals US Marines as contract killers, hunting migrants on the border
The hunting and murder of migrants by US Marines along the Arizona border was among the first facts revealed, after LulzSec hacked the Arizona Department of Public Safety on Thursday. The data exposes the fact that Arizona law enforcement officers were aware that migrants were being hunted by off-duty Marines patrolling the border with assault weapons. The information was in a report for the month of October, 2008, by Arizona's HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) Investigative Support Center.

"In other incidents reported in October, U.S. Border Patrol agents encountered two subjects who claimed to be members of the Border Watch Group the Blue Lights based on the Caballo Loco Ranch. The subjects, armed with pistols and at least one M4 rifle, were dressed in full desert camouflage uniforms, similar to those of the United States military. They stated they were not members of the Minutemen, but paid contract employees who ‘get the job done’ and ‘were not just volunteers.’ They possessed valid United States Marine Corps identification cards."

Read more about this ranch near Sasabe, Arizona, south of Three Points, and alongside the Tohono O'odham Nation. The Caballo Loco is where Minutemen, Patriots, off-duty Marines and other white supremacists camp and stalk migrants:

Also see:
ACLU Arizona Racial Profiling "Driving while Black or Brown"
Columbus, Ohio Police Target Native American Long Walkers, on Friday, July 3, 2011, and in 2008:

About the photos
At El Tiradito Shrine in Tucson, the organization "No More Deaths," remembered "Descondido" and thousands of other migrants who have died along the border of the United States and Mexico. Descondido was found hanged near the village of Cowlic in 2005 and is among the migrants meeting with violent death after crossing the border.

At El Tiradito Shrine in Tucson, volunteers with "No More Deaths," remembered migrants who have died along the border during a prayer vigil at a shrine in Tucson. When each migrants' name was read, those present said, "Presente" (Present) to show that they had not been forgotten. Thousands of names of migrants, who died from dehydration, assaults and other causes, were placed at the shrine.

Shrine outside federal courthouse in Tucson for Francisco Javier Dominguez Rivera, 22, from Morelia, Mexico, murdered by US Border Patrol agent. Agent was found not guilty.

Angie Ramon, Tohono O'odham, mother of Bennett Patricio, Jr, 18, stands where her son was run over and killed by the US Border Patrol on Tohono O'odham land. Ramon sued the officers in federal court, alleging her son was murdered by officers when he walked up on Border Patrol agents transferring a load of drugs in the remote desert at 3 am. Ramon carried the case to the Ninth Circuit and found no justice.
Brenda Norrell has been a news reporter in Indian country for 29 years, living on the Navajo Nation for 18 years and in Tucson for a decade.
Copyright Censored News. To request permission to repost, please contact the publisher Brenda Norrell,

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Phoenix Cop Jeff Gordon, Son of Mayor Phil Gordon, Faces Discipline for "Inappropriate Contact" While On Duty; Details Pending

The Phoenix Police Department's Professional Standards Bureau has completed an internal investigation into allegations that Phoenix Police Officer Jeff Gordon engaged in "inappropriate contact" while on duty.
But the reports detailing what got Gordon, who is the son of Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, in trouble won't be available until early next week, a police spokesman tells New Times.

Police have not released details of who Gordon engaged in inappropriate contact with, or what discipline the cop faces.

The mayor's son, a six-year veteran of the PPD, was placed on paid administrative leave after allegations of "inappropriate contact" (read sexual activity) with someone while he was on duty.

"As Mayor, I cannot comment on a pending Police Department personnel matter. I can comment as Jeff's father. I love my son very much. I've always been proud of his unblemished record and his 6 years service to our community. I have and will continue to support him through these allegations, as any dad would do for his son."

Phoenix police officials started investigating the junior Gordon in late December or early January. The investigation was delayed after Jeff Gordon -- who was installing hardwood floors at his home while on leave -- accidentally severed some of his fingers.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Joe Arpaio Loses Again: Maricopa County Settles for $200K in Mora Racial-Profiling Case

Julio and Julian Mora, who today won big against Sheriff Joe

As Sheriff Joe Arpaio plots to humiliate Arizona by deploying a chain gang of illegal immigrants to clean up around Chase Field, where the Major League Baseball All-Star Game is scheduled to take place July 12, there's ample evidence Arpaio should be in stripes right along with them, cleaning the sidewalks of cigarette butts and soda cans.

Not only is Arpaio the subject of a federal grand jury probe looking into abuse of power allegations against his office, he's also guilty of racial profiling by proxy. And for all of you nativists out there, racial profiling is illegal, no matter how much you may cotton to the idea.

See, the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona has just announced that it's reached a settlement in the federal lawsuit Mora v. Arpaio, one of the most egregious cases of ethnic and racial profiling to come out of Arpaio's campaign of Hispanic-hunting sweeps and anti-immigrant raids on local businesses.

Arpaio's lawyer Tim Casey today threw in the towel, essentially agreeing to a $200,000 payout to Julian and Julio Mora, the father and son zip-tied and held for three hours during a 2009 MCSO raid of the Phoenix landscaping firm Handyman Maintenance Inc., where the elder Mora worked.

Joe's boys-in-beige were after illegal immigrants that day, but Julian Mora is a legal permanent resident. His son Julio is an American citizen.

But all that mattered to Arpaio's goons was the Moras' skin color. Because they were brown, sheriff's deputies pulled over their truck as the elder Mora drove to work. They were zip-tied and laughed at when they asked to use the facilities.

Mora senior, who suffers from diabetes, was finally allowed to make water behind a parked vehicle. The junior Mora was allowed to go to the bathroom, but deputies refused to remove his zip-tie, and mocked him as he struggled to relieve himself.

The Moras had done nothing wrong, yet they were treated like criminals.

So they sued Arpaio and the other idgits involved, like the bigoted Barney Fife, MCSO Lt. Joe Sousa, the brain surgeon in charge of the sheriff's human smuggling unit, best known for telling elected officials critical of his jefe to "shut up" at a deputies' press conference in 2009.

Oh, if only the $200K could come from the pocket of an aggro idiot like Sousa. But, alas, as with all of the settlements and judgments that result from the misdeeds of Arpaio and his dull-witted minions, it's the county that has to pick up the tab for this Keystone-Koppery.

Interestingly, one reason the defense in this suit flopped on its face is that the MCSO's moronic administrators could not determine which MCSO goons in particular pinched the Moras. Flip to the word "incompetence" in Webster's Dictionary, and I can almost guarantee there's an illo of an MCSO badge.

In April, District Court Judge David Campbell ruled that the Moras' Fourth Amendment right to be free of unreasonable search and seizure had been violated.

"Julian had committed no traffic violation, and neither plaintiff was ever charged with a crime," Campbell wrote at the time.

"In short," he added, "the undisputed evidence shows that when the John Doe Deputies stopped plaintiffs, they had no suspicion, reasonable or otherwise, that plaintiffs were in violation of the traffic laws or engaged in criminal activity."

Campbell's April ruling practically guaranteed Arpaio's capitulation. On the Fourth Amendment claim, the defendants already knew they were going to lose.

Annie Lai, the ACLU's lead attorney on the case, warned the county that it will be on the hook for Arpaio's continued unconstitutional shenanigans.

"Sheriff Arpaio's deputies are not free to ignore the Constitution when they are enforcing immigration laws," Lai said in a statement released by the ACLU. "County officials should take heed that the Moras and hundreds of other Latino residents who have been detained in the raids without any evidence of wrongdoing have recourse in the courts."

Lai just left the ACLU this week, on her way to a teaching gig at Yale University. I interviewed her before she left, and she will be the subject of a future blog post.

Congrats to her, the Moras and all the lawyers at the ACLU and elsewhere who helped win this one. Occasionally, there's a little justice here in Sand Land, though I won't be satisfied till I see Arpaio suited up in stripes, working the side of the road, hopefully with all of his henchmen right beside him.