Trump's Arpaio Pardon? Instead, Arizona's Confederate Monuments Must Come Down

Arizona already has six Confederate monuments. It doesn’t need another one.

Any pardon of disgraced and criminally convicted former Sheriff Joe Arpaio by Donald Trump would be a de facto monument to “the most egregious racial profiling in the United States” and “chronic culture of disregard for basic legal and constitutional obligations,” at least according to a federal Justice Department report in 2011.

Arizona already has six Confederate monuments — almost all of them dubiously constructed in recent memory. It doesn’t need another one, albeit in the form of a presidential pardon.

Don’t forget: Arizonans in Maricopa County rejected Arpaio’s odious legacy last fall, in a long-time grassroots campaign that mobilized voters and brought an end to his decades-long reign, even as Trump won the state.

Federal contempt conviction aside, Arpaio’s rap sheet has been well documented for years. The East Valley Tribune won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for their damning five-part exposé on how Arpaio’s brutal raids and obsession with hunting down nonviolent undocumented immigrants shifted limited resources and law enforcement efforts from violent crime investigations. In the fall of 2007, Arpaio quipped on CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight that he thought it was “an honor” to be compared by his critics to the Ku Klux Klan. The Justice Department found his operations involved “a widespread pattern or practice of law enforcement and jail activities that discriminate against Latinos.” In 2010, Arpaio headlined a rally on the U.S.-Mexico border with some of the most notorious white supremacists. The list is endless.

“Not only did Defendant abdicate responsibility,” United States District Judge Susan R. Bolton wrote in her guilty verdict last month, “he announced to the world and to his subordinates that he was going to continue business as usual no matter who said otherwise.”

Let’s be clear: Arizona was not even a recognized territory during the brief Confederate occupation of southern Arizona in 1862, below the thirty-fourth parallel, which was nothing less than an illegal act of treason by a handful of carpetbaggers, land speculators, transients, mercenaries and fugitives. Within months, Union forces from California sent the yahoos fleeing from Tucson. President Abraham Lincoln signed the territory of Arizona into existence on February 24, 1863. Another half century passed before Arizona even gained statehood.

Instead of monuments to treasonous outlaws, we need more monuments to heroes like Estevan Ochoa, a Mexican immigrant who defied the Confederate occupation in Tucson.

Bottom line of history: Various Confederate sympathizers and traitors in Arizona ended up imprisoned briefly in the historic Yuma jail.

That would be a good place for the Confederate monuments today—and the legacy of hate and all of its modern-day expressions.