Local News

ACLU looking for evidence of Johnston County profiling

Posted September 9, 2008

— The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation and other civil rights groups in the state on Tuesday filed a public records request with the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office in the wake of  what they deemed to be racially inflammatory statements from Sheriff Steve Bizzell.

In a Sunday article in the News & Observer of Raleigh, Bizzell talked about his frustration with the changing face of the county where he grew up. Bizzell called Mexicans "trashy" and said the growing Latino population in his county was "breeding like rabbits."

"Everywhere you look, it's like little Mexico around here," the Sunday article quoted him as saying.

The ACLU-NCLF alleges Bizzell’s statements in the article constitute direct evidence of racial discrimination and hostility toward Latino citizens and residents of Johnston County.

The group has asked for public records and documents from Bizzell pertaining to DWI checkpoints, driver’s license checkpoints, arrests, jail bookings and other information that could reveal whether the county has complied with state law prohibiting racial or ethnic profiling by law enforcement.

“Blanket assertions like this about an entire class of people, again despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, if put into practice, are the very essence of racial and ethnic profiling by law enforcement that are prohibited by state law,” said Jennifer Rudinger, executive director of the ACLU in North Carolina.”

The Johnston County Sheriff's Office responded to the request Tuesday afternoon, noting that it had been forwarded to county attorney Ronnie Mitchell.

“Sheriff Bizzell has asked that we handle the matter in the same manner, and according to the same procedures and standards, that we have handled such requests previously,“ Mitchell said.

Bizzell apologized for the remarks on Sunday, saying in a one-paragraph statement that it wasn't his intention to make broad statements that reflected on legal and law-abiding Hispanics. He said his comments, made during interviews for a series of stories, were influenced by his anger over the April death of a boy who was killed by a Hispanic drunken driver who had been convicted before of driving while impaired.

"I obviously let my anger over this crime flash during the N&O interview," he said in his statement. "This is not a reflection on all immigrants, as legal immigration is both wanted and needed."


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  • Love being a Mom Sep 12, 2008

    Wow, speak of ignorant. I don't know about you, but I am not an immogrant. I was born and raised here in Johnston County. Now my Great, Great, Great, Great, Great Grandparents were LEGAL immogrants who wanted to, and thus, became US Citizens settling here in North Carolina before our country even took the shape it now has today. Throughout my geneology, there have been many servants to the public, as well as, the private sector. They were all Americans, as am I. I am not an immogrant. I do stand by this country. I will continue to fight for this country. I obey this country's laws and expect everyone who sets foot on her soil to do the same. I thank Sheriff Bizzell for his comments. I respect him - like it or not. I will not apologize if your feelings are hurt. No one apologizes to me for hurting my feelings and I accept that fact and move on with life. Try doing the same. Freedom of speech is a GOD given right to all legal Americans.

  • MSN93 Sep 11, 2008

    "glorified trespassing..."

    ...And fraud, identity theft, forgery, tax evasion, abuse of state services, etc., etc.
    Not to mention the out-of-proportion drunk driving casualties.

  • blazinmami8807 Sep 11, 2008

    To shed light to the abundance of ignorant people that have been writing on this website, WE ARE ALL IMMIGRANTS (unless you are Native American). I am disgusted that someone would nominate this man for presidency. First of all, the MINORITY is now the MAJORITY, so he doesn't even stand the chance. I'm not from the hispanic origin, but if he has this to say about Hispanics, imagine what he has to say about African Americans, Asian Americans, etc..

    I'm so glad that these corrupt officials are being brought to the light. Now that he has exposed himself, lets dig down deep into the real issues at hand. RACIAL PROFILING.

    I personally would rather spend my tax monies on helping a needy family instead of funding a salary to man that has taken the minority population for granted with his racial remarks.

  • zanerx Sep 11, 2008

    "Why dont we let all of the murderers an rapists out of jail while were at it...this is what you're suggesting right? let all the criminals go and have another chance, maybe they'll do something right this go around. wonderful idea arfamr1031"

    Because those murders, rapists, criminals, etc., have done things far worse than glorified trespassing. Please try to understand - I am simply saying that the legal/illegal barrier is an artificial construct we have established in accordance with current immigration policy, and the current construct and policy is not working! It may not be the right thing to do to grant amnesty to all current illegal immigrants, but we need to get beyond just the artificial legal/illegal question and solve the underlying problem - the overall appropriate limits, resources, and mechanisms surrounding legal immigration.

  • Love being a Mom Sep 11, 2008

    Amen Shotpusher. Enough is enough. Let's protect our rights for a change and encourage our right to Free Speech, which it now seems the ACLU, El Pueblo, etc. are trying to relinquish from us. Illegal aliens do not see fit to abide by our laws, yet they expect our laws to protect them. These so called protection groups even think it gives them the authority to investigate a man, regardless of stature, in the event he, as a legal American, exercises his right to free speech. Well here it goes (you are welcome to investigate me) - I support the comments made by Sheriff Steve Bizzell and second them. Maybe now is the correct time to investigate the ACLU, El Pueblo, etc., for racial bias and profiling against the caucasian population. Let's remove their leaders from office. I will be more than happy to apply for a vacant position and run it effectivly. At this point, I could do a better job of being fair to all regardless of race, sex, etc. as long as they are LEGAL Americans

  • news4u Sep 11, 2008

    WRAL - N&O

    Following comments on both boards the OVERWHELMING sentiment is STILL against ILLEGAL ALIENS INVADING the United States of America and further flaunting our laws and trashing our country once they arrive. To be impartial - I see legal American "citizens" trash it up too - but the operative word here is LEGAL.

    Of course, more liberals are posting on the N&O, which is par for this course.

  • shotpusher Sep 11, 2008

    I wish we would adopt immigration enforcement similar to Mexico. They're very tough on South Americans coming up through their country. The Mexican Federalis will hardly tolerate the prescence of illegal aliens; no job, no education, no healthcare. America is too soft, our adversaries percieve it for weakness (which is correct) and the American Taxpayer is victimized by it. The only thing is, we the American Taxpayer have no special groups like La Raza (translated: THR RACE), El Pueblo (whose first stated goal is: "The promotion of the Latino community ABOVE ALL OTHERS), CAIR, or the ACLU to look after our interests. Our elected representatives are trying to figure out how they can give illegals the right to vote so they have a group of illiterate voters to lie to and promise things to at taxpayer expense. I'm tired of being dumped on by people who don't belong here and hearing them howl when they are "offended".

  • arfamr1031 Sep 11, 2008

    If we legalized them all [call it ... amnesty (GASP!) if you will), then we could get beyond this legal/illegal smokescreen and get to the real issue - what is the appropriate amount of immigration to allow from all and various countries. Everyone has various opinions about this, but at least we could then have an open discussion. Personally, I am on the side of liberal immigration policies, but one thing that desperately needs to be done is beefing up the staff of the INS that administer legal immigration. The waiting lists hasve historically been horrendous.

    Why dont we let all of the murderers an rapists out of jail while were at it...this is what you're suggesting right? let all the criminals go and have another chance, maybe they'll do something right this go around. wonderful idea

  • preciousboo66 Sep 10, 2008

    Continued, When someone decides to take such a job as he has, then showing prejuduce as Mr. Bizzell as bluntly shown, he shouldn't be in that position no matter how good he is, people say how kind he is, I couldn't imagine needing him coming to 'PROTECT ME, and him finding out that my daughter,A MEXICAN, needed help too and her two little rabbits she has made, hoping that he could help us through the trash that happens to come with all mexicans as in his statement, I mean come on people,How could anyone justify what he has said, wrong is wrong, we talk about the hate that is out here in our streets, and what we should do to try and stop it, the fighting, the gangs, well hello, talking about immagrants in the right way is one thing, but in the way and manner that he did, shows our kids that he and all of his backers, don't care about what they don't want to, they can hate when they want to. how backwards are we, Look around people. this is one good example of why our kids HATE!

  • preciousboo66 Sep 10, 2008

    You know I have been reading alot of these comments, and some people are genuinlly ignorant, Yes, any immogrants, no matter who they are or where they're from, should either come into the US the right way or get deported, I am the first to agree, my daughter, however, is half mexican, born and raised here in the US, but I was offended by Mr. (SUCH A GOOD GUY,HONEST,HARD WORKING,KEEPING UR COUNTY SAFE, OH DID I SAY HONEST) Bizzells comments, not just the rabbit one or the trashy mexican one, but to insinuate some of the other things that no one is even talking about was appaulling, he talked about feeling sorry for the little kids and what a tax burden they will become, for one thing, alot of these kids, were born here in the us regardless if thier parents weren't, and that was just another of his many KIND words he chose to share, there was one person here on golo that said what happen to free speech, well he chose to serve & protect, showing prejuduce is wrong. to b continued