Grand Wizard Arpaio

Sheriff Joe in Klansmen's gear? Hey, if the sheet fits. That was the first thought this nutcracker had upon seeing the now-infamous Photoshopped pic of "Nickel Bag" Joe Arpaio in KKK garb about to lynch a Latino. The photo's made the rounds of late under the slug, "cosas curiosas en Maricopa County," or "curious things in Maricopa County." In it, a stereotypical Mexicano dood in a poncho's being strung up for "doing the jobs nobody wants," while Arpaio's called out for his "new political career" in the White Knights.

The pic was sent anonymously to Elias Bermudez of Immigrants without Borders, who then forwarded the image to others with the observation, "Just the plain truth from the eyes of the Hispanic community."

That's a mild comment considering Arpaio's recent anti-Hispanic activities, like the racist MCSO "hotline" that's been set up for reporting illegal immigrants. Also, Arpaio continues to collar the undocumented for the crime of "conspiring" to smuggle themselves into the country. And Joe's promised to pop any illegals who have the temerity to show up to visit loved ones locked in his gulags.

Heretofore, this tweeter's just figured Joe for a cruel, power-mad asshole. But more and more, he's been pandering to the nativist crowd, including a recent appearance at one of the regular Thursday-night prejudice powwows at Rusty Childress' Kia dealership, wherein members of United for a Sovereign America do everything but don white robes, burn crosses, and, uh, you know, lynch some beaners.

Oddly, at the Childress meeting Arpaio attended, Joe mentioned that he felt some compassion for illegals, but this sentiment garnered scorn from the Childress chowderheads, as was reported previously in The Bird ("Arpaio, Compassionate?," August 16). Deep down, Arpaio's an equal-opportunity sadist, but his doings of late have nudged him over to bigot Russell Pearce's camp.

The Photoshopped pic seemed right on the money to this mockingbird. Why then all the squawking from the local Fourth Estate, who you'd think had never seen a political parody before?

KTAR's Darrell AnKKKarlo did a segment denouncing it. No surprise there. Ankarlo-brow doesn't draw a check as a flack for the MCSO, but he might as well, for all the derrière-smoochin' he does. The Arizona Repugnant ran a brief item, acting like the scrutiny of Bermudez over this was normal. Bermudez himself was getting so much pressure that he felt the need to apologize on Channel 12, though for what, this buzzard's uncertain.

"The resending of that picture through the Internet was truly a stupidity on my part," Bermudez told the camera. "And I do apologize. I apologize to the sheriff. I know he's upset about this."

Channel 12 had Arpaio on camera ready to respond.

"First of all, I don't accept his apology," growled the decrepit copper. "And I think in a very short time, he'll know why."

Did this not-so-daffy dodo hear that right? Was Arpaio threatening some retaliation because Bermudez forwarded a satirical pic of the county's top doughnut-eater? Or was something else involved?

Someone should inform the chief constable of the little thing called the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which protects satire, especially when leveled against public officials. Not that Arpaio gives a hummingbird's hiney for America's highest law. The MCSO regularly violates the constitutional rights of those in its custody, and rides roughshod over the First Amendment rights of this paper and others, gloating all the way.

Channel 12 indulged Arpaio, noting that the sheriff was "traveling with security staff for the first time in 15 years," even though it's Bermudez who's been receiving veiled death threats over the 'toon.

Why did Bermudez even bother to say sorry to the sheriff? He didn't do anything wrong.

"I'm not just one person," Bermudez peeped to The Bird. "I represent a whole bunch of other people, and I don't want the sheriff going after them even more because of this."

Bermudez confessed that he's afraid Joe's thugs will soon arrest him on trumped-up charges, perhaps unrelated to the Klan pic, and that he has hired an attorney in case this occurs.

"My information is that for some reason or other, the sheriff feels that I might be part of a conspiracy to take his life," he said.

As wild as it sounds, it would not be the first time Apraio's pulled such a stunt. Anyone remember James Saville, the poor schmuck whom reporter John Dougherty wrote about in New Times ("The Plot to Assassinate Arpaio," August 5, 1999)? The sheriff's office unsuccessfully attempted to entrap an 18-year-old parolee in a fake bomb plot. Four years later, a jury acquitted Saville, who turned down a plea deal while waiting for his day in court.

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