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Arpaio in court to testify in his racial profiling trial

Arpaio in court to testify in his racial profiling trial

CREATED Jul 24, 2012 - UPDATED: Jul 24, 2012

Reporter: Craig Smith
Web Producers: Ina Ronquillo, Rikki Mitchell

PHOENIX (KGUN9-TV) - In Phoenix, it's day two of a civil court trial for Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Arpaio entered the courtroom around 7:50 a.m. for hearings to start at 8:30 a.m. He entered the courthouse through an alternate entrance that kept him away from cameras and potential protesters.

Phoenix police let Arpaio protesters have their say for about 40 minutes,  then arrested four who refused orders to clear the street.

Inside the courthouse attorneys suing Arpaio got him to concede that in 2005 he didn't think illegal immigration was a priority and that he never mentioned it in his first book written in 1998.

But in 2005 he got a letter from the Minutemen, a vigilante group pushing a hard line on illegal immigration,  which said the Minutemen were looking for a local agency willing to step up immigration enforcement.

Arpaio forwarded the letter to his chief deputy for discussion.

Soon after Arpaio's department began saturation patrols that are the heart of the case because Hispanics complain those patrols target them for harassment.

Plaintiffs attorneys produced news conference video in which Arpaio said he was specifically targeting illegal immigration even if the people stopped committed no other crime.

There was even a clip from Fox News where Arpaio said when people compared him to the Ku Klux Klan he regarded that as an honor because its a sign hes doing something.

In court he was quick to say he has no use for racist groups like the Klan and that clarification was cut from the Fox presentation.

The American Civil Liberties Union is suing on behalf of a variety of plaintiffs who claim Arpaio has set up a persistent system of racial profiling against Hispanics.

If the judge agrees, plaintiffs want a court order to forbid racial profiling and set up a court monitor to assure compliance.