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GR Press runs favorable article on Arizona sheriff known for racial profiling

May 10, 2010

Yesterday the Grand Rapids Press ran an AP article on page A19 entitled, “Immigration bill old hat for Sheriff Joe.”

The article presents a fairly favorable look at Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona who has been known for using repressive tactics in dealing with immigration.

The Associated Press story talks about the 15 “crime and immigration sweeps” Arpaio has conducted since April of 2008 and that he has arrested over “2,000 illegal immigrants since 2006.”

In the Grand Rapids Press version of the AP story only Sheriff Arpaio is cited, but in the original version they also cited an Arizona State Senator and marketing professor, both of which do not provide any criticism of Arpaio.

The article does say at one point that “Critics say his deputies pull people over for minor traffic infractions because of the color of their skin so they can ask them for proof of citizenship.” Unfortunately, none of these critics are named in the article, even though there are numerous sources that the AP reporter could have cited.

For instance, the FBI and the Attorney General’s office in Arizona have begun a Grand Jury investigation into claims that Sheriff Arpaio has abused his power and even begun investigations of local politicians who have been critical of him.

There are also citizen groups that have been critical of Arapio, one which calls for the overthrow of the sheriff. Another group, America’s Voice, which advocates for sensible immigration reform, has documented numerous charges against Arapio. Among these charges are – the sheriff gives priority to immigration sweeps over felonies, racial profiling of Latinos and the use of forced labor in his “tent city” prison camp.

If the Grand Rapids Press is going to run wire stories about an important issue, such as immigration policy, they need to make sure that these stories have more balance so as to provide readers with multiple perspectives on the critical issues of the day.

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