Maricopa County, Arizona residents are used to seeing tent cities, chain gangs of prisoners, and pink underwear. This fall, as Sheriff Joe Arpaio faces a much closer reelection for Sheriff than usual against Paul Penzone, residents are also seeing impassioned protests in unusual forms, involving chickens and monarchs.
Yesterday, the anti-Arpaio group Citizens for a Better Arizona—led by president Randy Parraz—carried a man posing as “King Arpaio” into a Maricopa County board of supervisors meeting, protesting the board’s failure to sanction the Sheriff. The group had spent two weeks repeatedly requesting the board to take action against Arpaio for his record of police abuse, including his failure to investigate 400 sex crimes cases. Board Chairman Max Wilson did not respond to their requests, so yesterday, the Citizens took their protest to him, chanting, praying, and singing through the board meeting.
“I’ll be on top of this county for four more years!” ‘King Arpaio’ yelled repeatedly from his throne.
Wilson and the other board members sat through the protest for some time, listening as the protestors came up to the mike to demand justice against Arpaio and justice for Deborah Braillard. Braillard was a woman who died in 2005 after being arrested by the Sheriff’s office, which denied her diabetes medication for three days and dismissed her symptoms to drug withdrawal. The board was meeting to vote on a $3.25 million legal settlement with Braillard’s family.
Eventually, however, the meeting ended without the vote, and seemingly without the private meeting with Chairman Wilson that Parraz and the Citizens were demanding. Though the protestors were prepared for the possibility that they would be arrested, no arrests were made.
The Citizens for a Better Arizona group is perhaps best known for their successful campaign recalling former state senator Russell Pearce—a far-right lawmaker who wrote Arizona’s SB 1070 anti-immigrant law—last year. Now they have set their sights on Arpaio, who has recently come under even more controversy than usual for his birther investigation against President Obama, for the 400 sex crimes cases, and for the multiple investigations that federal officials have launched against him.
Even Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is making it known that he is less than thrilled with Sheriff Arpaio, telling the Examiner that who he was supporting for Maricopa County Sheriff depended on who was running against Arpaio. He also condemned Arpaio for neglecting key priorities of the job: “I will continue to express my embarrassment that there would be sex crimes committed, and they were supposed to be investigated by his people and were not. That is an unacceptable performance.”
We’ll be putting out what we have to say against Sheriff Arpaio too, next week. Stay tuned.
View video of the protest below: