I've just received confirmation from Monica Sandschafer, ACORN's lead organizer in Arizona, that the Rev. Al Sharpton will be in Phoenix this Friday, June 19th. For those unaware of it, that date is known as Juneteenth, and it commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.
According to Sandschafer, Sharpton's itinerary will include a prayer breakfast at Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church in downtown Phoenix from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Afterwards, Sharpton will do his radio show live from Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox's El Portal restaurant, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Back in April, Sharpton and ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis called on Sheriff Joe Arpaio to step down from his elected position by the end of May, otherwise he and Lewis would bring the battle to Arizona. During a media conference call at the time, Sharpton compared Maricopa County to "pre-Mandela South Africa," and denounced Arpaio in stark terms, calling him out as a 21st Century Bull Connor.
"We must stop Arpaio to stop the spread of racial profiling," Sharpton indicated in the April 7 call."It is imperative on the African-American community to stand with the Latino community, the Latino community to stand with the Asian community. This is a human rights issue. You cannot have human rights for some and not for all. We must stand with our brown brothers and sisters...this is a national outrage."
The next day, Sharpton and Lewis took their tag-team anti-Arpaio smackdown to CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight where they ran rings around bottle-blond Hispanic-hater and TV minuteman Dobbs. Since then, Arpaio's been challenging Sharpton to ride into Phoenix ready for battle. In a letter to Sharpton dated June 3, Arpaio took off the gloves, daring Sharpton to fulfill his promise.
"Your self-imposed deadline of June 1 has come and gone," he told Sharpton in the missive. "I am still here and here I will remain."
Sharpton's appearance on June 19th offers a symbolic link between the battles of two minorities in the Unites States for human dignity. The common ground is racial profiling, which both African-Americans and Latinos endure.
We may not get to see Sharpton and Arpaio duke it out in the street, though I wish we could. My money would be on the Reverend. Arpaio wouldn't stand a chance. And that goes double if the donnybrook were merely a verbal one.