I don't know about the devil goin' down to Georgia, but Sheriff Joe did go down to Houston this weekend to pimp the pack of bogus yarns in his 2008 tome Joe's Law. You know, the one wherein he claims credit for busting the French Connection, says he pulled over Elvis, spins his nickname "Nickel Bag Joe" as a positive thing (though it's not), insists the Mexican mafia along with Phoenix immigration activist Elias Bermudez and some rogue minutemen conspired to off him once (though this is b.s., too)?
Well, according to a blog item by my colleague Liana Lopez at New Times' sister paper Houston Press, some 250 persons shelled out $30 a pop to hear Joe rattle on about how great he and his book are. Joe also had copies of Joe's Law for sale, and was autographing them. His visit was sponsored by the organizations Texans for Immigration Reform and U.S. Border Watch, both of which have been tagged as "nativist extremist" groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Interestingly, the guy who introduced Arpaio to the crowd of mostly ofay fogies was none other than Ignacio Ramos, who, as Lopez correctly describes him, "is one of the border agents convicted for shooting an unarmed immigrant in the butt and lying to supervisors about the incident." One of George W. Bush's final acts as president was to commute the sentences of Ramos and his fellow Border Patrol Agent Jose Compean.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the terms of the Ramos and Compean commutations were,"Sentence of imprisonment commuted to expire on March 20, 2009, leaving intact and in effect the three-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and the fine."
Know what that means? That means Arpaio was being introduced by a convicted criminal. Heh.
Lopez also relates that as she was reporting on Arpaio's appearance, she was "followed around by some attendees with cameras," and was started at with suspicion. At one point, she was "approached by a woman who told me that she didn't like me and that I didn't belong there." The woman, Lopez told me, was white, and later hid her face from Lopez's camera. Lopez is a Latina.
Several members of the crowed "shunned the camera as I took pictures of them."
Rightly so, they should be ashamed.
Another example of outright bigotry came when one audience member shouted his disapproval of the sheriff of Harris County, of which Houston's a part of.
"When Arpaio turned his attention to missing Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia," writes Lopez, "things got ugly. Someone in the crowd yelled out,`He's only sheriff because he's Mexican.'"
Outside the Marriott where it all went down, about 100 protesters gathered with signs, according to Lopez. But inside is where the real action took place, with an activist by the name of Liliana Castrillón giving Joe an award on the sly, which she dubbed, "The 2009 Bull Connor Award for his `promotion of racial discrimination, disregard of human rights, abuse of power and general hatred of the `other.'"
Wish I could've been there to see the sneer on Arpaio's wrinkled mug. Of course, knowing Arpaio, he may have taken it as a compliment.
(For more pics from Joe's visit to Houston, check out Liana Lopez's gallery, here.)
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