Jewish groups join condemnation of Trump over Arpaio pardon

Former Arizona sheriff described prison as a 'concentration camp'


President Donald Trump's decision to pardon former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio "defies explanation and flies in the face of American values" according to Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League.

Mr Trump used the first official pardon of his presidency to end proceedings against the 85-year-old former sheriff of Maricopa County, who was awaiting sentence after being found guilty of contempt of court in July after an investigation into his racial profiling of Latinos.

"We stand today with the Latino community, who have been the primary targets of Arpaio’s bigotry and feel the president’s decision to pardon him particularly acutely,” Mr Greenblatt said. 

Mr Arpaio's career was characterised by a litany of highly controversial law enforcement measures, many of which specifically targeted minority groups.

He proudly described a prison in Phoenix as being like a concentration camp, and frequently staged publicity stunts including marching Latino prisoners into a segregated area ringed by electic fencing. Many inmates died in the prison.

Mr Greenblatt's statement continued: "This pardon leads us to question where President Trump stands on the rule of law. Arpaio willfully defied a court order for racially profiling Latinos and now is getting away with it – a very dangerous precedent. 

"The pardon will foster divisions in our country at a time when we need healing. No doubt anti-immigrant extremists will celebrate this decision, but it is a sad day for Americans who care about justice, equality and strengthening our social fabric.” 

Other Jewish groups offered similar condemnations of the presidential pardon.

“President Trump’s pardon of Sheriff Arpaio is shameful,” said David Harris, the CEO of the American Jewish Committee. “It undermines our judicial system and, ignoring the rule of law, endorses the egregious maltreatment and racial profiling of individuals in our country. Public humiliation of detainees was an Arpaio specialty.”

The Anne Frank Centre tweeted its disgust. "The evil @POTUS pardoned: Racist Joe Arpaio admitted 'concentration camp' for his outdoor prison where he chained immigrants to each other."

Mr Trump described Mr Arpaio as an "American patriot" who "kept America safe". The president also admitted that he issued the pardon as Hurrican Harvey was hitting the mainland United States as he "assumed the ratings would be far higher than they would be normally".

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