MALDEF Asks Johnston County, NC Commission To Call For Resignation Of Sheriff Based On Inflammatory And Derogatory Statements About Mexicans

September 24, 2008

ATLANTA, GA – Today, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the nation’s leading Latino legal organization, sent a letter to the Johnston County Board of Commissioners condemning Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell’s recent inflammatory comments about Mexican immigrants living in Johnston County (See Attachment). The Commissioner’s comments, published in the September 7, 2008 Raleigh News and Observer, included a number of derogatory references to Mexicans.

MALDEF’s letter to the Johnston County Board of Commissioners notes that Sheriff Bizzell’s statements conflict with International Association of Chiefs of Police Law Enforcement Code of Ethics, as well as basic civil and human rights. The letter goes on to request that the Commission formally denounce Sheriff Bizzell’s statements and call for his resignation.

“We are heartened by the support the community has received from, among others, the North Carolina Chapter of the NAACP, the North Carolina Justice Center, El Pueblo, Inc., the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, and Asociación de Mexicanos en Carolina del Norte (AMEXCAN). This is an offense to all members of the community, not just Latinos,” stated Elise Shore, MALDEF Southeast Regional Counsel.

“The Sheriff’s statements and attitude erode the community trust and cooperation vital to preventing and solving crimes in Johnston County,” stated MALDEF National President and General Counsel, John Trasviña. “Such attitudes call into question whether the Sheriff can serve all members of the community and encourages racial and ethnic hostility and intolerance.”

For all media inquiries, please contact Laura Rodriguez.

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund