Barnes and Ignoble: Sheriff Joe Arpaio autographs a book for Scott Norberg, suffocated to death June 1, 1996 in one of Joe's gulags.
Above is another outstanding video just posted by local pro-immigrant activist Dennis Gilman. The occasion: a Joe Arpaio booksigning at the Barnes and Noble in Goodyear this past Saturday, May 31, 2008. As the video mentions, that date came close to making it almost 12 years to the day that Scott Norberg suffocated to death in one of Sheriff Joe's infamous, Amnesty International-denounced restraint chairs. With the help of tort titan Mike Manning, the Norberg family sued the Sheriff, and won an $8.25 million settlement against Arpaio. As my colleague Sarah Fenske wrote in her story Money Shot,
"[Norberg] was in Arpaio's jail just 15 hours before he was handcuffed by guards, kicked, stomped on, and then strapped into a restraint chair. There, guards held a towel over his head, literally suffocating him. Medical records later revealed that he had been shot with a stun gun at least 14 times and beaten so badly that his larynx cracked."
These deadly restraint chairs were finally abandoned by the county in 2006, in large part because of such lawsuits.
When the local activist in the video approaches Joe and asks him to sign his book, he sneakily starts off by asking Joe to make it out to "Scott." The activist waits till Joe's scribbling, then lets fly the name, "Norberg." The expression on Joe's face is priceless, a momentary mix of pants-shitting-fear and deer-in-the-high beams shock. The guy follows up with a question about Honduras, then he's quickly ushered out by Arpaio's bodyguards.
I'm just sorry I didn't get to see it in person. I arrived a few moments later, and ended up sitting next to Joe for about an hour or so, lobbing Qs at him. For a full report on what happened, the other person who got led away, and the protest on the street outside the bookstore, check this week's Bird column, which should be up Wednesday night.
I should also mention, for the record, that though Gilman put the video together, and added the ominous Tibetan chanting by the Dalai Lama, there was a different activist involved in actually shooting the video and confronting Arpaio. Joe's camp is notoriously paranoid, and were especially so on this day. But this was a peaceful, lawful protest. The activist even bought the book, for crying out loud.
You can watch more of Dennis Gilman's videos, here. Keep making them, Dennis. Each one helps peel back the scab on this sucker, and shows him for who he really is...
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