Feathered Bastard

A Joe Arpaio Christmas at Pruitt's: Bigotry and hate aplenty.

Jeez, what fell in my eye? Did that come from The Bird!?

Ah, the Christmas season, so full of joy and goodwill towards one's fellow man. But not at the PHX Pruitt's protests, boyo, where the Prince of Peace would certainly not be welcome by the nativists if his eyes and skin in any way resembled those of George Lopez. (A line that recalls our immigration parody of last year, "The Passion of El Cristo," 'cept that back then, we made Sen. Jon Kyl "Satan," and he's since redeemed himself somewhat.)

Indeed, the situation this past Saturday (12/22) was about as ugly as I've seen it, with Sheriff Joe showing up to try and provoke those in immigrants-rights activist Salvador Reza's camp. Indeed, ol' Nickel Bag strutted down the north side of Thomas Road, in an impromptu one-man Xmas parade that forced PHX PD to direct traffic around him. This was slightly before I arrived. When I got there, Arpaio was holding court with his nativist fan club, many of whom were on the south side of Thomas. Knowing that MCSO PIO Paul Chagolla had recently referred to my colleague John Dickerson's cover story "Inhumanity Has a Price" as a pack of lies, I teased the aged lawman, shouting out, "So when're we gonna get that $41 million back, Joe?" This, a reference to the lawsuits caused by Sheriff Joe's jails that have cost county taxpayers millions.

Joe squawked, "You guys never were any good at math!"

And this from a Sheriff whose department is currently knee-deep in the red.

Arpaio dodged further queries, and I was eventually caught up in debating the nativists, if you can call it debate. As per usual, there were a lot of threats to kick my ass. Toothless biddies and various Harley-ridin' types were screaming at me to "Go over there [to Reza's side of Thomas] where you belong!" I told 'em I owned the sidewalk as much as they did, so they could suck it. They all seemed convinced everyone on Reza's side was illegal, and I told them that was bullshit. Could any of them prove they were American citizens, I wondered? One dood said, "I've got my driver's license right here." He seemed genuinely offended when I informed him that a driver's license is no proof that he's a citizen of these United States. Reckon he'll have to rely on his good looks till he gets his passport renewed.

"Something bad's gonna happen to you!" this putz promised me. Hey, give it your best shot, Oswald.

One middle-aged ass, who was too much of a pussy to give me his name, kept telling me I'd better leave, or something bad was going to happen to me. I offer a pic of the guy above, in case the po-po need to jump-start their investigation should I end up shot in the back someday. Another biker fella nicknamed "Jimbo" with Riders Against Illegal Aliens, who I've run into before at nativist rallies, advised me that, "A lot of people here wanna thump your head." No shit, Sherlock. Normally, I'd suggest he be added to the list of possible suspects in the case of my offin' or boot-stompin', save that he sweetened up a bit toward the end of the demonstration as we discussed hypocrite Hispanic-hater Rusty Childress' recovery from a severe motorcycle accident months back. Jimbo said Childress was there that day, though I didn't see him. Maybe he was off somewhere checkin' his Blackberry for possible CYA memos from F.A.I.R., the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

(Inside baseball, I know, but read this Bird item, if you care to grok that last reference. And remember, Rusty, sometimes certain laws can be retroactively applied. Well, at least, according to one County Attorney. Constitutional guarantees against ex post facto be damned!)

"A lot of people here wanna thump your head." Tell me about it, Jimbo.

Nativist hottie Michelle Dallacroce was on hand, blaring Twisted Sister's "We're Not Going to Take It" on her bulky, MASH-style speakerphone. And I also ran into lesbian-pagan-Mexican-flag-burnin' firebrand Laine Lawless, who was there representin' her group Border Guardians. An independent thinker, Lawless actually has liked New Times' "Target Practice" series on Sheriff Joe, and disagrees with the abuses in his jails. While we were discussing this, self-loathing Latino Anna Gaines of the F.A.I.R.-sponsored group You Don't Speak for Me -- who looks like she's about four feet tall but is as feisty as they come -- walked up to me and informed me, cattily, "I just wanted you to know that she is not a part of our group."

"Which group is that?" growled Laine as Gaines scurried off.

I would suspect she meant former Kia-peddler Rusty Childress' United for a Sovereign America, though Lawless has attended their meetings, and is hardly the most extreme of the bunch. Neo-Nazi J.T. Ready and a certain grizzled buffalo chip everyone knows and loathes are far, far worse. Maybe Gaines doesn't like Lawless because she's a lesbian, or maybe Gaines is just jealous of the attention Lawless has gotten, specifically my story on her early in 2007 titled, "Burn, Baby, Burn!"

Mexican-flag-torcher and Joe Arpaio-critic Laine Lawless holdin' up one side of her Border Guardians banner.

Twisted Sister: Anti-anchor baby urban cougar Michelle Dallacroce cranks some Dee Snider.

As Reza's group, minded over by local pro-immigration legends Alfredo Gutierrez and Danny Ortega, filed away at 11 a.m., I was struck by how disciplined they were in the face of the taunting and viciousness of the nativists, who chanted the refrain to the Steam hit "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye," as the protesters walked away. One particularly nasty trailer trash tart, kept shouting at the top on her lungs, "You're going the wrong way. The border is THAT WAY!" Others stepped on Mexican flags and screamed insults. When one of Reza's people, ironically an Anglo, began to respond in kind, Ortega quickly shut her down. The leaders of the Pruitt's protests know that the nativists want to provoke an incident that they can turn to their advantage, or maybe even allow the nativists to use the guns they so often brag about carrying.

Take that, Messcans!

Is that Dog the Bounty Hunter on the left?

This is one reason why Arpaio's stroll down the street was morally reprehensible. As Alfredo Gutierrez pointed out to me as the protesters were leaving, if he had done exactly the same thing as the Sheriff, on the other side of the street, he likely would've been arrested, or at the very least cited for obstructing traffic. Gutierrez says he and the boycott's other leaders will look into filing a complaint against Nickel Bag, though even they know that's unlikely to go anywhere.

Reza's told me previously they're taking a break for Xmas and will not be back out at 35th and Thomas till after the first of the January. Look for things to get even uglier and meaner next year, with the employer sanctions law set to start, and a possible revision of PHX PD's Operations Order 1.4.3 on the table. All of this xenophobia and anti-illegal rage hasn't peaked by a long shot.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons