Guadalupe Redux: Will Joe Arpaio Return to the Scene of the Crime, or Punk Out? (w/Update)

As I reported in last week's Bird column, Guadalupe's lickspittle Mayor Frankie Montiel has invited Sheriff Joe back to his square-mile town for Thursday's town council meeting, and perhaps a meal of Mexican seafood. Arpaio's return comes one year after the MCSO ran roughshod over that town in an anti-immigrant sweep, pulling over everyone brown (which is the whole burg), harassing law-abiding citizens, even menacing a Catholic confirmation for the town's children led by Bishop Thomas Olmsted.

Montiel also invited Joe for a meal of Mexican seafood with council members, but this is unlikely to occur, in part because most of the other council members want nothing to do with Arpaio, and because such a supper, with a quorum of the council present, would violate Arizona's open meeting law.

But Montiel's fawning aside, will Joe really have the stones to show as scheduled?

The council members I've spoken to believe this to be the case. They tell me that the MCSO's liaison with the town has informed them that metal detectors might be used to check those entering Guadalupe's small town hall. This same deputy inquired about whether he can keep some people out. He was informed that it was an open meeting, and that he cannot pick and choose who can enter.

As there will be protesters and many pissed-off residents present, I suspect that if Joe does show, his deputies will sneak him in through the back, as there is a door in the town hall meeting room that leads directly to the MCSO's Guadalupe substation in the rear of the same building. On the other hand, it would also be classic Joe for him to punk out, and say he never promised to be in Guadalupe, despite Montiel's claims to the contrary.

Joe's return comes during the Lenten season in Guadalupe, which involves weeks-long celebrations by Pascua Yaqui Indians, who make up half of the town's population, the other half being Mexican. It's a holy time for all Guadalupanos, and Arpaio's mere presence is considered to be an affront to the unique traditions of the community.

"It's beyond an insult," said community activist Andrew Sanchez, whose family was profiled in Michael Lacey's recent cover story "Are Your Papers in Order?," and who is organizing a peaceful protest to greet the sheriff. "It's like he's disturbing our peace."

Sanchez says it was also an insult for the MCSO to set up metal detectors or use wands when they've never been used at council meetings before.

"What is he, a celebrity?" asked Sanchez, whose family has been mercilessly harassed by the MCSO because of Sanchez's activism. "He's no celebrity. He knows our community is non-violent. He's trying to make it seem like we're bad people."

The council meeting is set to begin at 7 p.m., but protesters will be gathering around 4 p.m. at the southeast corner of Guadalupe Road and Avenida del Yaqui. Already, Sanchez and his allies have signs up around town. Several feature an eye, with the slogan, "Cuidado, viene Arpaio," which means, "Look out, Arpaio's coming." Some remind the sheriff of last November's election tally from the town: Saban, 1,181 votes; Arpaio, 183.

And if Joe blows the meeting off?

"That just means we won," said Sanchez with a smile. "If he doesn't come, it's because of us."

UPDATE: Just received the following message from Guadalupe Frankie Montiel to Joe's top flack Lisa Allen. It speaks for itself. In turn, Andrew Sanchez is calling on all town council members to walk out of the meeting once Arpaio shows. More as it comes.

From: frankie montiel [mailto:azbaseballathlete@yahoo.com] Sent: Wednesday, March 25, 2009 10:07 AM To: l_allen@mcso.maricopa.gov Cc: Yolanda Solarez; dledyard@faithlaw.com; Rosemary Arellano Subject: Forward to Media contacts

Mrs. Allen,

Could you please forward this Press Release to all of your media outlets, Thank you!

Mayor Montiel Press Release:

Sheriff Arpaio has been invited by Mayor Frank Montiel into the Town of Guadalupe and will be attending the March 26, 2009 regular council meeting at 7p.m. Sheriff Arpaio and his representatives will be first on the agenda. This is not a sweep, show of force or anything that can be categorized as negative. Mr. Arpaio is coming to meet with the council and citizens of Guadalupe to conversate about how we can address law enforcement concerns together in Town for the betterment of the community.

I have heard there may be some protesters in the parking lot which is perfectly fine and everyone is entitled to free speech. The Sheriff will have security there with him which precludes any notable elected official. Extra Sheriff deputies will be in the parking lot for the safety of any protesters pro or anti Sherriff Arpaio. Upon entering the Town Hall citizens will go through security and may be wanded with a metal detector for all elected officials safety and citizens safety. This is not a violation of civil rights lets just all pretend we are at the airport security ultimately ensuring us all we will be safe during and after the meeting.

Thank you for your time and I'm looking forward to a positive and productive meeting.

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