"There's not a Red America, or a Blue America, there's the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA." ---Barack Obama, 2004

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sheriff Arpaio: Arizona's Public Enemy #1

I want to start out by saying that I don't normally -- or like to -- target law enforcement officers in my blog. I have the utmost respect for their kind and what they do, and I personally know some Seattle cops. I'm also heartbroken over the recent murders of 5 police officers in the Puget Sound area.

However, I'm focused on an individual today who is an exception to the noble profession of the police...a man who, for many years, has been degrading all other cops around the country, and retarding what it means to be a law enforcement officer. He erodes the great reputation of his profession and the very concept of public service in general.
He disgraces law enforcement, period.

Having spent 16 years of my life in Arizona, I'm very familiar with the ways, means, and tactics of Maricopa County Sherrif Joe Arpaio. I'll let you google his name to look him up on your own, but one thing's safe to say: you don't ever want to get pulled over in Maricopa County, or Arizona at all for that matter, if you even have anything to the effect of or resembling an unpaid parking ticket. Chances are pretty good that you'll get hauled into jail...and while you might encounter an understanding cop, he/she is more than likely in the same school of thought as Arpaio and will do everything in their power to at least detain you, even if they don't have a good reason to arrest you.

That's because if he could be judge, jury, and executioner, Arpaio would be all three...including for petty crimes such as clapping at a county supervisor's meeting, which this article talks about, among other things.

His actions, however, aren't completely without reactions or consequences. Here's an article on his interview at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism on the ASU campus that he walked out of due to protesters. Boy I wish I could have been there to see that! Hopefully he left the stage shaking his fist in the air shouting "You Liberals!" Well, probably not. It's still fun to imagine.

Allow me to back up a bit, since the story of Sheriff Arpaio is based out of Phoenix and Maricopa County in the late 1980s.

There was a time when someone like Arpaio sounded like a good idea. In the early 1990s, Phoenix's crime was out of control, and the public were losing their tolerance with endless accounts of innocent folks killed by drunk drivers. Many of the accounts of bad behavior and violence stemmed from much of Arizona's transient population and newcomers who had very little vested in their communities, or were in the state under shady pretenses to begin with.

So when Joe Arpaio came up for election as Maricopa County Sherrif in the early 90s, promising to "clean house," the public drones, in a typical and predictable knee-jerk reaction, jumped all over it.

Something needs to be understood about the makeup of the Maricopa County populous...let's see...how do I explain this. It presents for the most part an obedient audience, sorta like the minions who won't put up a fight or dare to speak out against the Evil Galactic Empire in a Star Wars movie. Those who put Arpaio into office are folks who don't think much for themselves, much less dare to in the first place. They vote out of fear; there's really no other explanation to the phenomena of voting for and empowering a coward like Arpaio.

If you consider that public mindset and the added theater Arpaio puts on for the news (being the media whore that he is) about how he's doing "this," cleaning up "that," and implementing the "other" -- with all that "media meat" sandwiched in a "bun of fear" through the spectre of "all the problems caused by illegal immigrants," if you follow the bad analogy -- then you have the perfect recipe for mass deception and brainwashing...not to suggest that the web Arpaio spins is that complicated, as I don't think the man's really that smart. It has more to do with the public he served in his county than any brainchild maneuver on his part.

So, needless to say, it's been a mess of accounts of racial profiling episodes, and a host of horrors for the Hispanic community in Phoenix, capped by accounts this past decade of ripping families apart and sending members out of the country in middle of the night house raids. Sure, some of these folks have been illegal, but many also have not. When one considers the potpourri of countless rights-trampling escapades and how many innocent lives have been destroyed and disrupted, one might start to wonder.

As first, some of the stories coming out of his summer jail camp episodes, such as making inmates wear pink underwear, came across as funny and cute. However, as the surface started to get peeled back and as more stories about inhumane conditions were brought out into the light (many, oddly enough, by Arpaio himself), things weren't really that funny and cute anymore. Many were left asking: "...and why exactly is this necessary?"

I'd imagine it all has the same effect as torturing terrorists in Guantamano Bay; you don't cut down on crime by humiliating and dehumanizing criminals, let alone someone who's been pulled over for a petty traffic infraction or an expired parking ticket. You tend to get the opposite reaction -- breeding fear and hatred towards law enforcement and government in general, for that matter.

Being not exactly the youngest kid on the block, it seems to be rather simple. Bad behavior manufactures, well, bad behavior. One might think that a slightly more balanced approach to handling a jail one-timer who goofed or had a bad day is different from how the system handles, say, a really bad criminal such as a murderer -- AND NOT THROW THEM IN TENT CITY TOGETHER. Just a thought.

So what does one do with Arpaio and his cronies? I guess it's simple...but there's good news and bad news about this guy. Good news first.

You can get rid of the guy by voting him out. Now here's the bad news.

Unfortunately we're talking about Maricopa County; the most populated county in a state of mainly anti-government transplants who, in my opinion, are either retired and don't want taxes (usually Republicans), the types "running away from something" (also typically Republicans by nature, as they're usually anti-govt due to past experience or run-ins with the law), or just simply trying to "start over" from a former life. That being said, there are few Arizona natives...they're totally outnumbered.

So then, needles to say, the place is run from top to bottom by the lunatic fringe...meaning people who are intolerant and don't understand what dignity is. Hardliners on petty crimes who think everyday folks who have no record and goof, or make a mistake once, should be "taught a lesson" and thrown in jail with murderers. People who rule their lives by fear, because that's how they were brought up or the society conditioned them that way. It's all they know.

The following is a post I put up on the Spokane Examiner in response to comments assuming it's all Liberals making the noise against Arpaio's fascist regime.

It's not all Liberals who oppose Arpaio's fascist ways of policing...plenty of conservatives and Republicans are unhappy with him, and there's good reason. He has a rap sheet that goes back to the early 90s, and a HORRIFIC track record of stomping on First Amendment rights of everyday citizens.

Unfortunately the majority of the populous in Maricopa County is too brainwashed by anti-immigrant propaganda, and/or too uneducated to understand that the trampled rights of a few mean that the rights of everyone are taken away...like being arrested for clapping in a county supervisor's meeting. That's illegal? You're kidding, right?

Give me a break. If that sort of freedom of expression is being quashed, then Phoenix residents have more serious issues to worry about than the other problems triggered by Arpaio and his henchmen...such as rounding up alleged illegals via racial profiling, and folks with old parking tix being thrown in with murderers in 1930s-style prison camps in 120 degree heat.

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