Feathered Bastard

Neo-Nazi Vandals Graffiti the 'Hood of Their Hero, Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Fox 10 journo Sarah Acevedo filed a report Sunday night on the more than dozen cars hit with juvenile, neo-Nazi graffiti in Fountain Hills over the weekend. The crude swastikas, male genitalia and w.p.'s for "white power," reminded me of the ransacked aftermath in Orlando Diaz's house in north Phoenix, which I wrote about in April. One of those affected in the Fountain Hills incident, Howard Rosen, 62, lost loved ones in the Holocaust. He found his girlfriend's car sprayed with the imagery.

Acevedo noted that Sheriff Joe Arpaio lives in Fountain Hills, where the MCSO provides law enforcement for the community. She said Arpaio's out of town, but that the station got in touch with the sheriff for the story, and, "This is something he does not approve of."

Regular readers of this blog will spot the obvious irony. Arpaio gave local neo-Nazis a photo-op at a counterdemonstration to the big May 2 Walk for Respect, which was led by Zack de la Rocha and ended just across from Tent City. Former neo-Nazi Thomas Coletto -- who posted his snapshot with Joe on Stormfront.org -- was wearing the National Socialist Movement's "battle dress uniform" and standing on a Mexican flag when he asked Joe for the pic.

Joe even went so far as to tell the neo-Nazis how far along the protesters were. After Coletto left the movement, he told me he no longer supported Arpaio, but he acknowledged that Arpaio is a rallying point for the neo-Nazis.

"Arpaio's tough on immigration," explained Coletto. "And [neo-Nazis] don't want Mexicans at all anywhere in the country to begin with."

In a May 12 cover story, I detailed Arpaio's ties to extremist nativist groups and his interactions with local white supremacists. Supporters of the sheriff shrug these connections off. They defend the sheriff's obliviousness to his actions, and they scoff that obviously Arpaio is not a neo-Nazi.

No he's not. But when he plays prejudiced patty-cake with white pride types, he sends a signal to other, like-minded bigots that their activities are somehow acceptable, and that the sheriff maintains a laissez-faire attitude toward them.

In the Arizona Republic's short piece on the vandalism, Howard Rosen grumbled that the deputies who took the report on the vandalism done to his girlfriend's car seemed "pretty blase about it."

Maybe that's because the sheriff's own instinct is to shrug off neo-Nazi activity, so it's no surprise that his underlings would echo a similar worldview. The fish, as they say, rots from the sheriff on down.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons