Best David and Goliath Moment (2008)

Rebecca Jimenez, former Guadalupe mayor

Public opinion, from anybody with half a brain, began to go bad for Sheriff Joe Arpaio's immigrant "sweeps" after he took his forces into the tiny town of Guadalupe. Before, Joe had gone to places where the legal citizenry was more likely to be non-Hispanic. It made it less obvious that he was racially profiling. But when he sent his deputies into Guadalupe, it became clear to any rational person that he wasn't just targeting illegal aliens but anybody with brown skin. The reason is that the whole town is populated by Latinos and Yaqui Indians, and the vast majority of residents are longtime American citizens.

In fact, so many citizens were detained by MCSO deputies in the Guadalupe raid that there no longer was doubt that Arpaio's troops would violate anybody's civil rights if it meant nabbing a single undocumented worker. And stop U.S. citizens his deputies did — for cracked windshields, headlights allegedly too dim, wide turns, improper license-plate coverings . . . you name it. And many of the citizens detained complained to federal authorities, who'd already commenced an investigation.

But what sticks most in our mind about the Guadalupe raid was the bravery of a small-town public official, a mayor who wasn't afraid to stand up for what's right. Who wasn't afraid to tell the mighty Joe Arpaio that he and his brown-bashing brown-shirts weren't welcome in her town. New Times published a photo of Rebecca Jimenez, back to camera, politely telling off an infuriated Joe. Hair awry, teeth gritted, waving his finger menacingly in her face, he's telling the soft-spoken Jimenez that — if his anti-Latino sweeps won't be abided in Guadalupe — he would rescind the law-enforcement services the town pays the MCSO to perform! And he and the county Supes announced just before press time that the county will make good on the threat. (That's another million bucks out of county coffers, but what does Joe care as long as he can preen to ignorant racists before TV cameras?)

Arpaio's threat isn't the only one Jimenez received because of her heroic stance. Anonymous cowards have threatened the now former mayor's safety in phone calls and e-mails. Unlike others who've bucked Arpaio (officials who have state and city police forces to back them up), Jimenez had but the slingshot of her own convictions.


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