Blogging from Phoenix: A crowd estimated in excess of 2,000, trekked more than six miles on Saturday to protest against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. A local lawman who’s drawn National media attention with his own brand of immigration policy and surprise militarily style occupations of poor and mostly Latino neighborhoods.

The sweeps as he calls them, resemble an invasion and are conducted by his private army of black hooded machine gun toting deputies and volunteers he calls the Sheriff’s posse, the latter including several individuals, who have been identified as individuals with ties to white supremacist groups. The protest began at 10 a.m. Saturday morning in downtown Phoenix, at the Wells Fargo Plaza office building in Central Phoenix.

Organizer Raquel Teran, of Maricopa Citizens for Safety and Accountability, said the event had great turnout despite  challenges posed by the long walk. “The community is ready to step up and continue public pressure,” the march was organized in solidarity with May Day rallies, which were held around the country on Friday, as part of an annual celebration of workers’ rights. Protesters called for the end of the Bush administration era federal agreement that allows the Sheriff to enforce immigration laws. They also hope for reform of immigration laws sporting signs that read “We Are Human”.

Sheriff Arpaio ordered all his jail facilities in the county on lock-down then canceled inmate visits in response to the protest. A sheriff’s spokesperson said normal visitation should resume Sunday. The eighty something Arpaio is something of an icon amongst separatists and members of the white pride movement and enjoys widespread popularity among the elderly and conservative inhabitants of Phoenix. 

The Sheriff was prepared for the march and marshaled his own supporters, who met protesters when they arrived at the jail waving a mixture of United States and Confederate flags. While protesters and Arpaio supporters yelled at each other from across the street, the protest itself remained peaceful. The Sheriff didn’t hesitate to give one of his famous impromptu press conferences, saying he was not intimidated by the protesters and was proud of the work his deputies and volunteer posse members accomplish.

Rumors abound that the sheriff is the target of multiple Federal and State investigations for civil and human rights violations, as well as allegations of financial malfeasance, since becoming sheriff more than a decade ago Arpaio has become one of the States wealthiest men.

That’s my view, yours may be different

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