Picture This! Sheriff Joe’s Racy(ism) Photo-Op

By Dan Weiss

On Saturday protesters in Phoenix held a ‘Walk for Respect’ to bring attention to Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s civil rights abuses against Latino residents. After seeing footage of the march, I am amazed that the protesters were able to remain peaceful. A group of white nationalists showed up to taunt them with racial slurs, salutes to Hitler, and support of Sheriff Joe.

The few minutes of video footage I saw turned my stomach, but the truly shocking part was seeing hard-core white racists chatting up Sheriff Joe before the marchers arrived. They assured him that they “had his back.” Touching. Sheriff Joe didn’t seem to mind, he even posed for a few snap shots. I can’t imagine the heap of mud that an elected official, in ANY other state would be in for even smiling into the camera of a neo-Nazi. Let alone BEING in a picture with one! What has this come to?

In late February I marched in Maricopa county against Arpaio. And along the route in Downtown Phoenix, as expected, we encountered some hateful people. They booed our right to march for freedom, and mocked us as we stood in solidarity for something we believed in. I was told beforehand that they would come out of the woodwork to try and solicit a response, and that it would be tough to just allow them to hate us to our faces. I was worried, until I saw them. They were simply cheerleaders, mascots for “team hate.” I was almost relieved.

The pure uncensored hatred in the footage of Saturday’s march was the REAL deal. People so lost, so pained with twisted hate that they salute dead Nazis and stomp on Mexican flags.  A Sheriff meeting with white supremacistspre -protest, posing for pictures. Most proud to be white racist groups are chameleons nowadays, the name of the game in hatred seems to be “hide and hate.” Most regular Americans don’t know about organizations like FAIR, NumbersUSA, or Social Contract Press. They aren’t aware of the behind the scenes handshakes between white nationalists and people like Sheriff Joe, John Tanton, or Rush Limbaugh. Well here you go, America. Here is Sheriff Joe Arpaio associating with neo-Nazis. Taking pictures for a bigot’s myspace page. Can it be any more clear? Is this not “proof” that this man might not be a role model on immigration enforcement?

Most shocking of all, Arpaio is not even pretending as though he wasn’t convening with the neo-Nazis. You would expect a “don’t be silly we were just at the same place at the same time” speech, maybe a “Sheriff Joe doesn’t support hate organizations”. Instead, we get a statement from the Sheriff’s office saying: “It is not the Sheriff’s position to discourage groups on either side from exercising their rights.” Really Joe? Are you that confident? No, are you that cocky, that you don’t even feel pressure to pretend you are not a bigot anymore?

What should this shocking video footage of white supremacists disrupting a peaceful march for civil rights and posing with Arizona’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio say to America?

I’d say in this case, a picture is worth more than a thousand words.