An illegal alien cozying up to Lady Liberty at Monday's protest.
As part of a last-minute anti-Arpaio demonstration, hastily organized via the Internet, about 80 protesters from the Phoenix arts community and various immigrant rights organizations besieged the gates of the Arizona American Italian Club on North 12th Street, where Nickel Bag Joe was slated to speak Monday evening before an audience of nativists, bikers, and a vast, unwashed army of the dentally challenged.
The first illegal immigrant ever...
The spirited protest featured striking, stenciled signs crafted by Downtown spinmeister Alex Djentrification and numerous other merry pranksters -- signs bearing the likenesses of Cesar Chavez, Martin Luther King and Gandhi. A drummer, sometimes wearing a Viking helmet, wailed on his instrument, while practical jokers decorated a statue of Christopher Columbus -- the first ever illegal alien -- with placards depicting Arpaio as a clown, and others that read, "40,000 felony warrants? Do your job! Arrest real criminals."
Don't eat like a pig, Joe. People will think you are one.
Across the street a green, bug-eyed alien held a rake with a sign pasted to it which read, "I'm here for work." Next to him was Lady Liberty herself, bearing a sign reading, "Give me your tired, your poor..." She was played by the lovely Tamara Underiner, of the local, indie performance festival Teatro Caliente, which is part of the Theater in My Basement crew.
Have you met my wife? She speaks Spanish, and (ahem) her family's very proud of me.
Underiner explained that she was Italian on her mom's side, and that, "It embarrasses me to have Arpaio as a paisano." Hey, I feel your pain, Tamara. It embarrasses me to have Arpaio as a member of the human race.
"There's a promise here that needs to be honored," explained Tamara of Lady Liberty's message, borrowed from the famous Emma Lazarus poem. "And Arpaio's not doing it."
In case you're wondering, payaso means "clown" in Spanish.
There was a nice mix of young and old, Anglo and Hispanic out Monday night, the recipe for a coalition that could drive back Joe and his nicotine-addled knuckledragger hordes. In addition to the 20- and 30-something artists, there were Hispanic college students, and organizers from the newly founded Pueblo Center for Legal and Human Rights, such as the Stanford-educated Ray Ybarra. They were joined by veteran activists such as attorney Antonio Bustamante, and Salvador Reza of Tonatierra and the Macehualli Work Center. Phoenix designer Lisa Jacobs (aka "Stickerclubgirl") of the co-operative art-space Conspire also came out for the event.
M.A.I.A.'s Michelle Dellacroce takes in the demonstrators, while do-ragged "Jimbo" of R.A.I.A. sucks on that butt like his life depends on it.
Despite taunts and provocations from the nativist knaves and their slatternly wenches, the crowd remained peaceful, even when incited by Candy Thomas and Arpaio themselves. Thomas came out to the crowd, smiling like a trepanned idiot, and asked one girl if he could buy her anti-Arpaio sign. All this while the crowd chanted "Thomas -- Racist!" He quickly scuttled away into a welcoming gaggle of snaggletoothed supremacists, some of them from R.A.I.A. (Riders Against Illegal Aliens), which should be forever known as "Rednecks Against Immigrant Americans."
Arpaio followed him out not long afterward, munching on a half-piece of pizza and mumbling to himself as he stuffed his pie-hole. I asked him why he was still sending deputies to Honduras, but he just shrugged and took another bite. Likewise there was silence to a question about all the hate he's inspired. The only thing he managed to burp out was a reply to my query about the quality of the pizza.
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"Well, it is the Italian-American Club," he snorted.
As the crowd shouted, "Sheriff Joe has got to go!" a blonde nativist bimbo who looked like she'd just crawled out of the movie Barfly ran interference for Joe, trying to prevent more questions from me. He was also accompanied part of the way by Michelle Dallacroce of Mothers Against Illegal Aliens, who was a perfect lady that eve and continues to be the only urban cougar in the nativist camp. Later Joe ambled over, zombie-like to accept the adoration of a cluster of trailer park refugees. Is this the best you can do these days Joe? Has your support shrunk to this handful of witless brown-bashers? Joe still crows (falsely) to the cameras that his support is in the 80th or 70th percentile. That is a bald-faced prevarication. Try just a little over 60 percent, Joe, and droppin' like a clay pigeon.
After Joe departed in his sinister black sedan with tinted windows, the nativists tried picking fights with the crowd, and generally acted like ill-bred idgits they are. But it didn't work. The protesters pulled away from them, forming a circle and dancing to the beats of the drummer. All in all, it was a victorious outing. One I hope to see repeated at nearly every Arpaio event.
For more pics from the protest, check out the slide show, here.