Joe Arpaio's Tent City: Shut It Down, Puente Protest Demands

Shut down Sheriff Joe Arpaio's notorious outdoors-deathtrap Tent City? Sounds like a solid idea to me, and one the Phoenix human rights organization Puente will be pushing Saturday, June 23 during a rally and vigil outside Joe's al fresco gulag.

I had to look twice at the announcement for this action initially, thinking it was promising to shut Tent City down. The message is slightly less in-your-face, though I doubt Joe will like it:

Likely following the Supreme Court decision on the DOJ SB1070 case, Puente and the UU's Standing on the Side of Love are calling for a rally and vigil at Sheriff Arpaio's Tent City.

Thousands of Unitarian supporters and community members will hold a peaceful vigil at the site of one of Arizona's longest standing embarrassments and epicenter of human rights violations calling for it to be shut down, Sheriff Arpaio's "tent city."

We are the 99%, Arrest Arpaio, Close his tents.

Location, Tent City, 2939 W Durango, Phoenix, AZ 85009

Time: 8 p.m., Saturday, June 23.

The demonstration is scheduled to coincide with a General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association in Phoenix that weekend. 

A press release issued by UU headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts confirms UU participation in the event and notes the human rights abuses of Joe's jails.

"To date, more than 427,000 inmates have gone through Tent City Jail," it reads, "where people are crowded together on wooden planks in broiling heat in the summer and freezing cold in the winter. This facility represents the worst of a culture of cruelty perpetrated in the name of the U.S. government."

The UUs have been a powerful presence at pro-immigration demonstrations in Phoenix, easily identifiable by their yellow shirts promoting their Standing on the Side of Love campaign for human rights.

Indeed, during the wave of civil disobedience that occurred on July 29, 2010, in defiance of Arizona's breathing-while-brown law Senate Bill 1070, UU members were arrested for acts of civil disobedience, including UU president Reverend Peter Morales.

The online flier for the demo quotes an infamous Arpaio line from his 2008 appearance at Phoenix's Arizona American Italian Club, where Arpaio was caught on tape saying, "I already have a concentration camp...it's called Tent City."

The infamous Arpaio quote comes 2:50 in

You can thank award-winning journalist and filmmaker Valeria Fernandez and her collaborators for catching that outrageous Arpaio flub. Fernandez is co-director of the new documentary Two Americans, which contrasts the life of Sheriff Joe with that of Katherine Figueroa, a little girl whose parents are arrested in one of Arpaio's anti-immigrant raids on a local business.

In the video from Fernandez, et al., Arpaio's comment comes at 2:50 in. Note his shout-out to his former fellow Sith Lord, ex-County Attorney Andrew Thomas, now disbarred for the shenanigans he pulled with Joe's collusion.

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