Feathered Bastard

Joe Arpaio: Tent City a "Concentration Camp"

Kudos to Valeria Fernandez and A.J. Alexander for their work on this video

You never know when Sheriff Joe is going to blurt out a bit of the truth. Case in point: This video from the crew at 90 Days to Phoenix, part of a documentary about Arizona currently in post-production.

Crusading independent journalist Valeria Fernandez (who's done work for CNN en Espanol and New Times, among many others) and cameraman A.J. Alexander captured our geezer lawman during an appearance in 2008 at the Arizona American Italian Club in Phoenix, where he calls Tent City a "concentration camp." You know, like the ones the Germans used back in the 1930s and '40s.

Responding to some crackpot from the audience who wonders when Joe'll start using concentration camps, Arpaio gives the following response.

"I already have a concentration camp," he snarks around 2:52 in, with nativist GOP politicians Don Goldwater and then Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas chortling along. "Andy, you gonna cover me on this, too? It's called Tent City."

Skip to 2009, during the forced, public march of undocumented inmates to a segregated part of Tent City. There, Fernandez confronts Arpaio on his previous statement.

Arpaio denies he said any such thing.

"I never called it a concentration [camp]," he states, though the video obviously shows otherwise.

Our septuagenarian sheriff apparently doesn't regard his facilities as humane in any way. Otherwise, why would he make an analogy to the extermination of the Jews?

One other interesting comment from Joe comes as he's being done-up with mascara and powder prior to a CNN appearance. 

"I look like I'm dead, with all this makeup," he says, looking into a mirror.

Dead? Only spiritually, Joe. Only spiritually. 

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons