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Thousands Protest Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Tent City Jail

Thousands Protest Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Tent City Jail

You’ve undoubtedly read all about Joe Arpaio, the Maricopa County, Arizona, sheriff, who prides himself on being a hardliner on immigration and an outspoken critic of President Obama.

Such a hardliner, in fact, that last month the Department of Justice announced that it had had enough of Arpaio and was suing the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. The suit asks a federal judge to issue an order against discriminatory practices by sheriff’s deputies, and to require the Sheriff’s Office to eliminate a “pattern or practice of unlawful conduct.”

The sheriff has said the Justice Department’s investigation of his immigration patrols was a politically motivated attack by the Obama administration and denied allegations of systematic discriminatory policing.

In case you weren’t aware of this, there is also the issue of the sheriff’s “tent city.”

Thousands of protesters rallied in Phoenix last Saturday night, calling for the closure of a “inhumane” complex of canvas prison tents and claiming that confinement to the “tent city” violates prisoners’ human and constitutional rights.

From The Guardian:

Last year, temperatures inside the temporary structures hit 145 degrees, more than 30 degrees hotter than the outside high for that day. The canvas jail, which has been criticised by an Amnesty International report, can house up to 2,000 inmates, all of whom have been convicted of non-violent crimes.

“We are with you,” protesters chanted in both English and Spanish at yesterday’s demonstration, in hopes that inmates could hear them.

Most protesters held candles and wore yellow T-shirts that read “standing on the side of love”, a slogan of the Unitarian Universalist Association, which was holding its annual convention in Phoenix this weekend.

The Unitarians organized the rally along with the immigrant-rights group Puente Arizona.

By way of response, Arpaio has repeatedly said he doesn’t see any problems with housing inmates in tents and often points out that some members of the US military live in tents.

Let’s just say that Arpaio enjoys making inflammatory statements.

In fact, as The Associated Press points out, Arpaio is a national political fixture who built his reputation on jailing inmates in tents during Phoenix’s triple-digit summer heat, dressing inmates in pink underwear, selling himself to voters as unceasingly tough on crime and pushing the bounds of how far local police can go to confront illegal immigration.

Meanwhile, a new book may well add more fuel to the fire surrounding Joe Arpaio. “If There Were Any Victims…” by Bill Louis, a retired El Mirage assistant police chief, promises to look into the El Mirage, Arizona, child sex-crime cases mishandled by Arpaio’s office.

Now that should be interesting reading.

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126 comments

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8:57PM PST on Feb 2, 2013

Thank you.

8:57PM PST on Feb 2, 2013

Thank you.

8:56PM PST on Feb 2, 2013

Thank you.

4:39AM PST on Feb 1, 2013

Arpaio is a dumb redneck white-trash honkey!!
He should be stripped of his job and charged with TREASON!!!

2:04PM PST on Dec 26, 2012

Ann, your humanity is breath taking.

9:33AM PST on Dec 26, 2012

If our troops in iraq can live in tents, and wearing extremely heavy backpacks in the heat, that is in the desert, why should prisoners be treated any differently.

I feel that illegal immigrants should not be treated the same as prisoners, they should be sent back to their country of origin as soon as possible. Illegal immigrants being detained in our jails any longer than necessary costs our government money, that could be put to much better causes.

2:05PM PST on Dec 25, 2012

It's just absolutely amazing that someone hasn't killed Sheriff Joe Ignorance yet !

12:16PM PDT on Aug 30, 2012

22% voted YES! that it was okay to house non-violent persons in tents where temps reach as high as 145 degrees. You people are sick and ignorant.

Things generally come around (go around, come around) and I do hope you have a chance to experience torture similar to what you voted on...the sooner the better.

This is the way the world ends, not with a bang, but a flush.

10:12AM PDT on Jul 10, 2012

LB. D. You should try to drink the Kool-Aid a little bit slower, it seems to have impaired your ability to reason, God knows your ability to show compassion is long since GONE.

12:34PM PDT on Jul 7, 2012

What possible good can it do to hold anyone in tents in triple digit heat? Do the folks who support keeping nonviolent prisoners in such conditions celebrate when one of them falls from heatstroke? This practice constitutes indiscriminate punitive punishment of everyone so detained, regardless of their offense (including that of longing for a better life for themselves and their family), and places those who practice this type of imprisonment in the company of some pretty iffy people. Such treatment is not going to build the type of world you want for those you love.

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