Nativists, Comicon enthusiasts, and supporters of the effort to recall Sheriff Joe Arpaio from office.
Downtown Phoenix was abandoned on Sunday, save for these three groups as members of the pro-recall organizations Respect Arizona and Citizens for a Better Arizona set up tents on the plaza in front of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Auditorium at 205 West Jefferson Street.
See also: -Joe Arpaio's Doomsday: Arpaio Loses ACLU Civil Rights Lawsuit, MCSO Enjoined from Racially Profiling Latinos -Joe Arpaio Recall Needs 100,000 Signatures According to Organizers (w/Update) -Joe Arpaio Recall Suspends Paid Signature Gathering Campaign for Second Time
Respect Arizona campaign manager Lilia Alvarez said her group would be camping out Sunday and Monday nights, and would be either in front of the BOS auditorium or across the street at Cesar Chavez Plaza till 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, May 30, which is the deadline for the effort to turn in its signatures to Maricopa County Elections.
Alvarez estimates that the recall now needs 90,000 more signatures to have a cushion in addition to the 335,317 necessary to force a recall.
"We're really pushing now for Arpaio to resign," she told me. "After this ruling, we should not have to spend the taxpayer dollars to have a recall special election."
Alvarez was referring to the ruling handed down by federal Judge G. Murray Snow on Friday, finding that the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office racially profiles Latinos and ordering Arpaio's office to stop.
She said Snow's 142-page ruling had given the recall a boost, but whether it would be enough to put the recall drive over the top remains an open question.
"If we're under the amount necessary to trigger an election, we're going to say that," she explained. "We're not going to turn them in unless we hit our mark."
That would be prudent, as Maricopa County Elections Director Karen Osborne estimates that it will cost her office $1.5 million to validate the recall petition's signatures.
If the county finds that there are enough valid signatures from qualified electors, Arpaio would have five days to resign before a special election is ordered.
One of those who would like to see Arpaio resign or be recalled is Julio Ortega, a Vietnam vet and former Marine. He stopped by Camp Recall Arpaio with his wife to sign the petition.
Ortega, 70, said that the people should be allowed "to speak on the recall," and that Arpaio should have to defend himself and debate an opponent, something the sheriff dodged in the 2012 election.
I asked him what he thought of Judge Snow's ruling and the finding that Arpaio's deputies discriminate against Latinos.
He recalled friends of his, other Hispanic soldiers, who died in Vietnam.
"If we were good enough to get shot and killed and wounded, mutilated, like is still going on in other wars," he said, "whether you're white, black, Indian, whatever you are, you should have the right to be treated like a human being."
On the other side of Jefferson Street, the Joe-lovers kept vigil, sometimes shouting through megaphones, sometimes blasting music, like Twisted Sister's "We're Not Going to Take It."
It was pretty much the same sad old, hateful crew that you would have seen supporting Arpaio back in 2008.
There was aging Arpaio-worshipper Barb Heller, plus-sized masseuse Brandy Baron, non-Hispanic "Hispanic" Art Olivas (who sometimes says he's of Mexican descent and other times denies it), Santa Claus-bearded biker dude Reverend Jim, nativist soccer-mom Michelle Dallacroce, and ex-KIA dealer and redneck playboy Rusty Childress.
Childress has bobbed back to the top of Arizona's slimy stew of bigotry recently after being out of sight since he sold the car dealership his father had built and then handed down to Rusty, who liked bashing Mexicans more than bid-ness.
Which is ironic, considering that some of his fellow nativists once accused him of sub-contracting out the car cleaning on his lot to a company that used undocumented labor.
Dallacroce, too, is an old hand at the immigrant-bashing game. She founded a group called Mothers Against Illegal Aliens in 2005, and has officially dropped out of the movement only to re-emerge from time to time.
The nativists started out with about 15 or so counter-protesters, and that diminished to just a few after an hour and a half. The only excitement, if you can call it that, occurred when Art Olivas, wearing a sombrero, crossed the street to shout at videographer Dennis Gilman with his megaphone.
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SHOW ME HOW
He made the mistake of giving Gilman the mic at one point, and almost didn't get it back.
This kept passers-by amused, some of them on their way back from the Phoenix Comicon, which wrapped up Sunday afternoon at the Phoenix Convention Center.
Art should have attended, as he had on a costume. A circus would have been better for him, though. He's got the clown shtick down pat, you see.