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Sheriff Joe Arpaio shuts down jail in response to racial profiling protest

PHOENIX — Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio decided to shutdown a jail for the weekend while a local migrant justice organization protested to demand the sheriff step down.

News footage showed hundreds of protestors marched through downtown Phoenix before stopping outside of the Fourth Avenue Jail.

Puente Arizona, a local organization that aims to “fight enforcement that criminalizes our people” according to their website, protested the presence of Arpaio and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers in Maricopa County.

Carlos Garcia, director of the Puente Movement, said the sheriff’s continued actions against minorities and immigrants has driven the group to call for his removal.

“Arpaio will never willingly change his ways, as shown by his speech at Donald Trump’s campaign stop in Phoenix,” he said in a recent press release. “Maricopa County needs to remove Arpaio from office immediately and it needs to end the policies and institutions he’s established with him.”

In response to the protest, Arpaio tweeted Thursday that he would be shutting down the jail at noon.

Arpaio has recently been brought on federal charges regarding racist policies he set and executed while in office, most notoriously against Hispanics. U.S. District Judge Murray Snow issued a ruling in 2013 that found the sheriff and his deputies racially profiled against Hispanics during traffic stops and immigration patrols.

Garcia said the Hispanic community hopes to ensure new policies are set into place after Arpaio leaves office.

“The racist policies that Arpaio spearheaded while in office set precedent for other states and were operationalized by the federal government,” he said in the press release. “What we’ve seen in Phoenix paved the way for the president’s record deportations and anti-immigrant backlash everywhere. The same community that has been terrorized by Arpaio for all these years will be the ones that ensure that when he leaves, it starts a new day and doesn’t just put a new face on his terrible reign.”

Netroots Nation, a group of activists and newsmakers aiming to open discussion about race relations, joined the group in their protest.

“Sheriff Arpaio has a long history of abusing power and terrorizing immigrant families in Maricopa County,” Netroots Nation Executive Director Raven Brooks said in the press release. “We’re proud to stand with local organizers against this legacy of inhumane treatment and racial profiling.”

Noemi Romero, who was one of many who were arrested an Arpaio workplace raids, said she is fighting for the rights of her entire community.

“I am one of hundreds arrested by Arpaio for nothing more than working,” she said in the press release. “We are taking our power back to get rid of Arpaio and make sure that no one else has to suffer like we have.”