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The Battle of Bell Road: Hundreds protest Sheriff Joe Arpaio's anti-immigrant dragnets.

A small section of the crowd Thursday night.

Events have been moving so rapidly since last night that I haven't had time to report on the eruption of Latino/Hispanic outrage at Bell and Cave Creek Roads where Sheriff Joe has stationed his mobile command center for the weekend. From a shopping center parking lot on the north-west corner of the crossroads, MCSO cars were dispatched as part of the Sheriff's dragnet targeting Hispanics in the hunt for illegal immigrants. There was only one problem for Joe last night. There were so many protesters surrounding the deputies that for a while, the MCSO was unable to get its cars out of the lot.

A United for a Sovereign America protester signals his distaste for the press.

I made the Joe Show press conference yesterday. It lasted from about 4 to 5 p.m. Basically Joe defended himself against charges of racism, saying that the MCSO was just enforcing the law. Look to next week's Bird for more on the media event. In any case, there wasn't much happening up there at 5 p.m. Just about 50 or 60 protesters milling out on the sidewalk in front of the taped off area for the MCSO command post. So I left. By the time I got back to the office, I was getting calls that Sheriff Joe's dog and pony show had turned into Fort Apache. I raced back up the 51 to Bell and Cave Creek where barricades had been erected, and a crowd of about 700 was facing off against Sheriff's deputies. People were passing around bullhorns, each giving their testimony of oppression. It was an emotional scene, sometimes broken up by the humor of musicians, or some wag yelling,"I love you Sheriff Joe. I want you to come and arrest my kids. You are my hero!".

Activist Michelle Brians berates MCSO deputies.

About 20 or so members of United for a Sovereign America showed up to wave racist signs and taunt the crowd. They practically had to be protected by the MCSO. After someone threw a Coke can at them, the Hispanic leaders present had some men form a line separating the U.S.A. crowd from the protesters. Most of the protesters I saw were young. Many mothers with their children. High-school and college-age kids. Some older women, and men. In general, the crowd was peaceful, but you could see how some bad shit could go down, if one person up and did the wrong thing.

KKK approved, indeed...

The MCSO deputies looked tense. They were constantly haragued by the protesters, who waited for the main MCSO command center wagon to depart, before they left. There were a lot of curious folks present, as well as residents from the community pissed-off at the Sheriff's invasion of their neighborhood. Most of the main players from the immigrant-rights movement were on hand: Alfredo Gutierrez, Danny Ortega, Salvador Reza, and others.

Too bad she's too young to vote...

This massive response to Arpaio's thuggery is thrilling, and feels full of promise. People are filled with righteous anger against Arpaio's tyranny. I'll be going back up there tonight. I hope the scene doesn't turn ugly, but I want to be present to witness it if it does.

Racist lie...

Re: these photos from last night, I don't have the time to build a slide show right now. Hopefully I can get one going over the weekend. There were tons of news crews out last night. Interesting that there was zero coverage in Phoenix's major daily today. What the fuck do those guys do for a living?

Old Yeller screams, "America, love it or leave it!"

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Salvador Reza, of the Macehualli Work Center, which is just a block or so away...

Some dude singing an extemporaneous ditty by guitarist James Quercia, titled, "Uh-oh, Joe is here!"

Joe supporter Brandy Barron, one of the more civil U.S.A. members...

Around 11 p.m., the MCSO's command center truck calls it a night, to the delight of the crowd...

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