26 December, 2008

Sheriff Joe Jumps the Shark

Apparently, being treated as some sort of redneck hero for dying jail underwear pink and creating tent cities has rather gone to Sheriff Joe Arpaio's head. He was always an authoritarian bully, but he's been getting crazier and crazier over the years. This year, it appears, he's finally tipped himself right over into fascism:

I'm spending my Christmas vacation in lovely Maricopa County, AZ, this week with my in-laws. And I have to tell you that, thanks to Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his gang of thugs deputies, I'll be somewhat relieved when I leave.

After all, how would you like to live in a place where law enforcement actually arrests you for applauding briefly at a public county council meeting? Where they threaten and intimidate you just for showing up in the first place?

That's what's been happening here.

It all has to do with an anti-Arpaio group called Maricopa Citizens for Safety Accountability, which formed last spring in response to investigative reports and studies demonstrating that Arpaio's insane obsession with illegal immigrants was destroying his office's ability to actually deal with real law enforcement work.

MCSA's members have been turning up at meetings of the county Board of Supervisors and trying to speak, but the board refuses to let MCSA do so except for brief comment periods at the end of its meetings. Moreover, the board meetings are now patrolled by a huge contingent of deputies who treat the citizens who attend like criminals.

Last week, they went even further:


And, of course, deputies and security agents at the Board of Supervisors meetings have begun to arrest spectators. That development came Wednesday.

During the meeting, Board of Supervisors chairman Andy Kunasek warned spectators that they were being disruptive by applauding speakers, but deputies neither dismissed nor arrested spectators who applauded an animal advocate or a public transportation advocate who sang a birthday song for Kunasek.

The scene was different when about 15 spectators stood and clapped for 20 seconds after a Maricopa Citizens group member spoke critically of Arpaio during her turn at the lectern.

Deputies arrested Joel Nelson, Jason Odhner, Monica Sandschafer and Kristy Theilen on allegations of disorderly conduct and trespassing.


Deputies made the arrests in a clear attempt to intimidate people associated with Maricopa Citizens, said Carlos Calindo, who attended the meeting.

"It is incredible the way they behaved," said Calindo, who is not a member of the citizens organization. "You come in there and the atmosphere is incredibly oppressive. They yell at you. They scold you. They try to intimidate you. It is improper."

Must be because Faux gave him a teevee show. He thinks he's acceptable.

It's time for me old home state to wake up and smell the reality. Joe must go.

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