Phoenix' Mayor Greg Stanton asked U.S. President Donald Trump to postpone his trip to the city where he is expected to pardon a former sheriff, who has been found guilty of criminal contempt and is known for his anti-immigrant and racist stance against Latino migrants.
Stanton said now was not the time for the visit, "Our nation is still healing from the tragic events in Charlottesville."
"If President Trump is coming to Phoenix to announce a pardon for former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, then it will be clear that his true intent is to inflame emotions and further divide our nation," Stanton said.
Stanton made his remarks shortly after Trump posted a link for tickets to attend a rally in Phoenix, and reportedly saying he is "seriously considering" a pardon for Arpaio, according to NPR.
Arpaio was convicted on July 31 of misdemeanor contempt by a U.S. District judge in Phoenix for willfully disregarding a judge’s order that barred his officers from stopping and detaining Latino motorists solely on suspicion that they were in the country illegally. Arpaio continued the patrols for about another 17 months.
Arpaio had styled himself as "America's toughest sheriff," using tactics such as requiring male inmates to wear pink underwear and the use of an outdoor jail known as "Tent City," which remained open even during Arizona's hottest months when temperatures can climb to 120 degrees.
He lost his bid for re-election as Maricopa County sheriff last November after 24 years in office and faces a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a fine when he is sentenced on Oct. 5.
The news comes days after a white supremacist plowed into a group of anti-fascist protesters in Charlottesville, killing Heather Heyer and injuring 19 other people, after hundreds of white nationalists protested against plans to remove a statue of General Robert E. Lee, commander of the pro-slavery Confederate army in the U.S. Civil War.
Trump's weak response to the attack was criticized as he said there was "blame on both sides," even after other Republicans called it "domestic terrorism."
Trump insisted that not all of the facts were known yet about the aftermath of the white supremacist rally in Virginia and accused left- and right-wing groups of using force. He claimed the "alt-left" bears some responsibility for the violence.