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Trump pardons sheriff who ran racist ‘concentration camp’

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Issue 2569
Racist sheriff Joe Arpaio
Racist sheriff Joe Arpaio (Pic: Flickr/Gage Skidmore)

Trump used the cover of Storm Harvey to pardon Joe Arpaio, the racist former Arizona sheriff.

Arpaio, former sheriff of Maricopa County was convicted in July of criminal contempt of court after defying an order to stop racially profiling people.

He was awaiting sentencing and faced jail until Trump started hinting that he was considering a pardon.

In his 24 years as sheriff Arpaio built a foul reputation for harsh conditions in his county jail and for his campaigns against immigrants.

He ran a “temporary” outdoor jail—which stayed open for over two decades—called Tent City. He once referred to it as a concentration camp.

He had Latino prisoners marched into a segregated area with electric fencing as a publicity stunt. He humiliated people who had been arrested with a “mugshot of the day” contest on the police website.

He had hired a private detective to investigate a judge who had ruled against him, and even staged an assassination attempt against himself for publicity.

Trump said Arpaio was an “American patriot” who “kept Arizona safe”.

The pair have long had a friendly association going back to their mutual involvement in the so-called birther movement. This falsely claimed that former US president Barack Obama had lied about being born in the US.

Trump also used the cover of the storm to sign a long threatened directive that precludes transgender people from joining the military.

The directive leaves defense secretary Jim Mattis discretion to decide whether those transgender people already in the armed forces can remain in the military.

Anti-fascist protests force Nazis off streets

Anti-fascists are organising on a wider scale in the US—and showing how to beat back Nazis.

They rallied in San Francisco last Saturday in celebration after a planned far-right rally was cancelled.

The group “Patriot Prayer” had been issued a permit to rally. But it backed out when it became clear that there would be a mass mobilisation against them.

The next day a tiny group of pro-Trump protesters who planned a “No Marxism in America” rally were chased from a park in Berkeley, California.

Again organisers had called off the rally.

Mobilisations against the fascists have grown after the Nazi killing of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville. Those mobilising against the Nazis include Antifa and others.

There is a clear opportunity for a mass movement against fascism based on anti-fascists and anti-racists, trade unionists and others.

One of the groups organising is the Campus Antifascist Network.

Bill Mullen from the group told Socialist Worker, “There have already been very sizeable anti-fascist mobilisations this year.

“Politically, the potential is heightened by Trump’s open support for white supremacy and white nationalism.

“The anti-fascist movement also carries the memory of Black Lives Matter, whose activists were represented in Charlottesville. There is also a strong anti-Islamophobic current in the movement. The fascists have consistently used Islamophobia.

“An entire day of right wing marches against ‘Sharia Law’ took place in June. It is critical that anti-fascist organisers confront the threat of Islamophobia.

“Finally, it’s urgent to defend the oppressed at street level.

“The white supremacist murder of three people in Portland, frequent attacks on Muslims, increasing deportations of migrants, all generate a need to mobilise in the streets.”

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