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Friday, September 28, 2012

Alamance protestors slam Sheriff Terry Johnson

Posted by on Fri, Sep 28, 2012 at 3:10 PM

In an emotional press conference this morning, Alamance County protestors rolled out a lineup of area Latinos they say were racially profiled by controversial Sheriff Terry Johnson's office in recent years.

The conference, put on by a group called Fairness Alamance,  comes one week after a U.S. Department of Justice report concluded Johnson and his deputies are racially profiling Latinos.

Organizers Friday slammed Johnson and called on him to comply with the DOJ investigation, which has already led to federal customs officials' decision to revoke Alamance County's use of the 287(g) program allowing deputies to act as immigration officers.

"We are holding accountable the Sheriff Terry Johnson," said Jose Rico Benavides, a member of the N.C. Dream Team, a group of undocumented young people opposing deportation for immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

Triangle attorney Marty Rosenbluth, who specializes in defending Latinos in deportation cases, said the sheriff's office has had an "agenda" to book Latinos in order to bring about their deportation.

He pointed to numerous Latinos he says were entered into deportation on minor traffic offenses, despite Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) policies directing law enforcement to target dangerous criminals.

"ICE does now not know what to do with all these Alamance County cases," Rosenbluth said. 

Undocumented woman Consuelo Lucia said she was pulled over by Alamance law enforcement for faulty brake lights and arrested for not having a driver's license. 

Meanwhile, Raleigh's Suyapa Mejia-Guevara, an American citizen who said she has resided in this country for more than 20 years, said she was harassed by an Alamance deputy at a traffic checkpoint because the deputy believed she was undocumented. 

Fairness Alamance leaders speculated Friday that a DOJ lawsuit could be pending for the county if Johnson's office does not comply with justice officials. 

Look for expanded coverage in next week's Indy.

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