Any notion that Alamance County’s anti-immigrant crusading sheriff Terry Johnson (pictured at left) would be at all chastened as a result of being sued by the federal government for unlawfully targeting Latinos has been quashed in recent days. On Monday, the Alamance County Board of Commissioners approved without debate a request submitted by Johnson to send four of his officers to Texas at taxpayer expense for a “Sheriff Border Summit” sponsored by the notorious anti-immigrant group, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).
As the watchdogs at the Southern Poverty Law Center document here, FAIR is an anti-immigrant advocacy group that maintains a “veneer of legitimacy” at the same time that “its leaders have ties to white supremacist groups and eugenicists and have made many racist statements.”
Click here and scroll down to page 7 to see a flyer describing the event, which looks as if it will feature a who’s who of anti-immigrant zealots. This is from the flyer:
“Join Sheriffs from around the nation for the 3rd Annual Border Summit, and education and training event created specifically for Sheriffs.
Hear from top experts in the field of:
Narco Culture and Occult
The training will include a tour of the Texas-Mexico Border meeting with Texas Border Volunteers and Texas Bar B Q at the Vicker Ranch”
Johnson’s request is that Alamance County taxpayers pay “Approx. $2,570” for four individuals from his office to travel to Texas next month to attend the event. Somewhat strangely, Johnson’s request seeks approval for the men to travel to El Paso, Texas, but the flyer attached to the request says that the event will be in the city of McAllen, which is 800 miles east of El Paso. Sounds like quite a road trip could be in the offing.
According to the Associated Press, one of the men slated to attend the event, Richard Longamore, once “forwarded an email to the sheriff and his chief deputy bemoaning a federal program that provides temporary visas to foreign nationals who are the victims of such violent crimes as rape, incest and torture.”
Johnson was, of course, has long been a controversial figure in North Carolina and one of the state’s most outspoken public officials on the matter of immigration. He was sued by the United State Department of Justice for unlawfully targeting Latino residents for investigation, traffic stops, arrests, seizures, and other enforcement actions. Last month, a federal judge in Winston-Salem dismissed the lawsuit, but advocates remain hopeful that the Department of Justice will appeal the ruling.
This is from a statement issued by the ACLU of North Carolina in response to the judge’s decision:
“’Today’s decision flies in the face of a mountain of evidence that Sheriff Johnson and the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office engaged in discriminatory policing,’ said Carolyna Caicedo Manrique, Staff Attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina (ACLU-NC). ‘During the trial, the Department of Justice presented expert testimony that Latinos in Alamance County were seven times more likely to be stopped and cited than non-Latinos in the community. This profiling was no accident. According to witnesses, Sheriff Johnson repeatedly and explicitly instructed his deputies to target Latinos, at one point even telling them to ‘go get me some Mexicans.’ We urge the Department of Justice to appeal this miscarriage of justice in order to ensure all Alamance County residents can again have confidence in their Sheriff’s department.’
The ACLU and other groups have been receiving complaints about Johnson, his deputies, and their treatment of Latinos for years. A 2012 statistical analysis commissioned by DOJ found that along three major Alamance County highways, ACSO deputies were approximately 4, 9, and 10 times more likely, respectively, to stop Latino drivers than similarly situated non-Latino drivers. The lawsuit listed examples of Latino drivers being followed by Alamance deputies for long stretches of time and then pulled over for little or no reason. Witnesses also testified about numerous incidents in which Johnson and other ACSO employees expressed prejudice against Latino residents.”
Whatever happens with the lawsuit, it looks like Johnson will be providing plenty of additional reasons to question his judgment and biases in the days ahead.