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Posted by Immigration Attorneys at Alcock & Associates.

About 100 protesters gathered Friday afternoon outside the offices of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, to protest the death of Ernest Atencio at Arpaio’s 4th Avenue Jail in Phoenix, Arizona.

This latest protest was convened by the PUENTE Movement, an Arizona-based immigrant rights group, in the wake of public outrage over surveillance videos that show deputies beating and using a Taser gun on Atencio on December 16, 2011. Phoenix police officers struggled with Atencio in the booking area at 4thAvenue Jail and Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputies joined in. A hospital report stated that Atencio was stunned six times with a Taser and then left naked in a safe cell. The PUENTE group is just one organization holding Arpaio accountable for the death of Atencio, which is under investigation by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s office.

Carlos Garcia, an organizer for PUENTE, said “We want him behind bars.” Garcia recalled the recent Department of Justice report that alleged Arpaio racially profiles Latinos and bases immigration enforcement on racially charged citizen complaints. The Department of Justice still has an ongoing investigation into the excessive use of force inside Arpaio’s jails. Arpaio is also under the scrutiny of a criminal grand jury for abuse of power and retaliation against political enemies.

In addition to requesting Arpaio’s arrest for the murder of Atencio, Garcia called for Arpaio’s outdoor jails, the infamous “Tent City”, to be shut down, and for law-enforcement agencies to stop working with Arpaio’s office. Arpaio’s agency has also been scrutinized recently for hundreds of sex crimes that were not investigated by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s office.

Arpaio denies the allegations made by the Department of Justice and says the civil rights investigation was politically motivated. The sheriff has made no comment about the Atencio incident, and called Friday’s protest “disgraceful” and a “despicable action by pro illegal immigrant group” in a message posted to his Twitter account. Generally speaking, immigration attorneys concur that Arpaio’s actions are beyond the pale.

PUENTE and other groups, such as Citizens for a Better Arizona, have been applying pressure on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to hold America’s self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff” accountable. PUENTE organizers will continue to hold bi-monthly rallies until the sheriff is “brought to justice” according to a news release.

Posted by the immigration attorneys at Alcock & Associates.

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