Feathered Bastard

Sheriff Joe Arpaio Inspires Children's Crusade Against Him This Friday, August 7

Ever read those tales of the Children's Crusade when you were in junior high? You know, where legions of kiddies during the Middle Ages supposedly marched toward the Holy Land with the idea that they would somehow convert Muslims to Christianity, but ended up being sold into slavery?

Well, everything old is new again, especially in Medieval Maricopa County where Sultan Joe Arpaio reigns supreme. The difference, of course, is that the Children's Crusade of yore was largely apocryphal. However, come this Friday, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. there will be a real children's pilgrimage, organized by Phoenix human rights activist Sal Reza's organization Puente.

It's aimed at the immigration policies of mean ol' Sheriff Joe, whose MCSO is responsible for essentially orphaning children by separating them from their mothers and fathers when the parents are collared during one of Arpaio's inhumane immigration sweeps. Reza tells me they expect to have 30 to 40 kids brave what's anticipated by the National Weather Service to be sunny,106 degree weather for the walk. It begins at the Fourth Avenue Jail, continues onto the Federal Courthouse, and finishes at the Wells Fargo building, where the MCSO keeps its suites of pricey executive offices.

If the children are unlucky, Arpaio might even descend to the street level to scowl at them and threaten them with deportation.

Present will be some of the tots affected by Arpaio's racial profiling sweeps, such as Katherine Figueroa, the girl whose parents were arrested during the MCSO's raid on Lindstrom's Family Auto Wash in June. Reza says the children will either be carrying or wearing butterfly wings, illustrating an analogy to Monarch butterflies, which yearly migrate from Mexico to the United States.

Reza says many of the kids have already devised their own signs, such as "Sheriff Joe is retarded," and "Don't be a bully, Joe."

To the charge that Phoenix's pro-immigration movement will be exploiting these children, Reza replied that the children will have ample water, that it's only a few blocks of a walk, and that the "real exploiters" are those that create a situation that forces children to march through the Sonoran desert.

Will the sight of the children soften the heart of our grumpy and unlovable Sheriff Joe? Don't count on it. These kids will be lucky to get away from the Wells Fargo building without being arrested by MCSO goons, or at least sneered at by the Sheriff's nativist supporters from United for a Sovereign America, who love to counterprotest such demonstrations, and are usually heavily armed.

Let's hope the Phoenix PD will be doing crowd control, as they did when sides faced off during the Rev. Al Sharpton's recent visit. The nativists would delight in something going wrong, and one of the little ones being hurt. So would the MCSO.

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