ACLU demands apology from Arapahoe County Sheriff for gypsy reference

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ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. -- The cable T.V. show, "My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding," pokes fun at the gypsy culture. The ACLU says an alert from the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Department is nothing to laugh about.

The alert was issued as a response to a series of recent scams in which homeowners were dubbed by unqualified workmen, and the ACLU said it advised citizens to look out for gypsies.

“The sheriff’s office bulletin describes a gypsy as a medium to dark-complected Caucasian with dark hair and dark eyes who’s often mistaken as a Hispanic,” Sara Rich of the ACLU said.

It’s that physical description that has civil liberties lawyers so upset. Charging such words can easily lead to racial profiling.

“It's inviting the public and his own officers, really, to presume anybody who walks up to somebody’s door – if they’re some with a dark complexion or Hispanic – they’re likely a criminal,” Rich said.

As of Monday night, the Gypsy scam alert was still on the sheriff’s department website. But it no longer included any of the controversial wording or the physical inscription of the gypsies.

“There is information there, but it has nothing to do or says nothing about the descriptor,” Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said. “The descriptor is certainly contrary to the way we do our business at the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office.”

The ACLU is demanding the sheriff apologize, take down the bulletin and retract any comments about any possible scams involving gypsies.

“We would like the sheriff to make a statement to publicly denounce he use of racial profiling,” Rich said.

Robinson is standing firm.

“If I have something to apologize for, you know I will apologize and make it right,” he said.

The ACLU said the sheriff’s department only removed the information from its website and the bulletin only after it learned the group was going to file a complaint. The ACLU is now giving the sheriff 10 days to make a public apology.