Long before the judges and lawyers got into the act (excepting such stalwarts as Danny Ortega and Antonio Bustamante, who've been active since the beginning), Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox was speaking out, marching and working against Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Wilcox was instrumental in getting former Mesa Police Chief George Gascon to go to Washington and testify before the House Judiciary Committee against Arpaio's misuse of the 287(g) program, she marched with Sal Reza and Zack de la Rocha protesting Arpaio in the streets of Phoenix, she hosted Al Sharpton's radio show when he came to town to denounce Arpaio, and she's voted against Arpaio time and time again in her capacity as supervisor. This, before the Supes were alienated by Arpaio's harassment and vindictiveness.
Indeed, I remember very clearly Wilcox's words in May as she explained her vote against giving Arpaio $1.6 million from the state Legislature to chase undocumented gardeners and dishwashers.
"What we are doing if the vote is affirmative today is releasing a reign of terror on our community."
She later added, "We have been threatened. And I am not afraid of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. I will not succumb to his threats. And I know I will suffer because of it. It's not about me. It's about the community and about the misuse of these monies."
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Prescient words considering the fact that Arpaio targeted her in an investigation, and Andrew Thomas later brought an indictment against her concerning loans she took out from Chicanos por la Causa.
Apparently, Wilcox received no sweet deal from CPLC, as CPLC has stated that the interest rates on the loans (two of which have been paid back) ranged from 8 to 12 percent. The Supervisors have voted to give CPLC funds to assist HIV/AIDS patients. If there was a conflict, it did not result in anyone benefiting from it, other than the HIV/AIDS sufferers.
In any case, Wilcox has become an icon in the immigrant-rights community, which explains the fact that St. Anthony Catholic Church was packed Monday night with souls praying for Wilcox as a mass was said on her behalf. Later, supporters gathered at El Portal to drink coffee and discuss Wilcox's case.
Some will argue that because Wilcox is Hispanic, her anti-Joe stance is to be expected. However, I would counter that there are a boat-load of Latino politicians and so-called Democrats who never utter a peep in opposition to Arpaio. Wilcox's defiance puts them all to shame.