This doesn’t smell right. In fact, it has the downright stench of opportunism.
Joe Arpaio, the anti-illegal immigration hardliner and Obama birther-conspiracy-peddling sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., has found a way to twist the tragedy of the Newtown, Conn., school massacre into an excuse to expand his police powers more than seriously protect children.
According to The Huffington Post, Arpaio now plans to have armed volunteer posses out patrolling areas around the county’s elementary schools. They won’t be posted on the campuses, however.
Unless they’re prepared to stop white guys who are dressed in camouflage or military vests, or black trench coats, I can’t quite see how that will work. Besides, that would be racial profiling, and that’s wrong.
Besides that, Arpaio likes to detain Latinos, not white people.
And because he has been shown to be a guy who ignores facts if they don’t jibe with his prejudices or his attempts at political opportunism – he insists that President Obama’s birth certificate is fake – I don’t trust him to use his posses to protect children as much as I suspect he’ll use them to step up his harassment of people of color.
No matter that they’ve never shot up a school.
Here’s why I’m dubious about Arpaio’s latest move. During a civil trial last summer which was the result of a lawsuit brought by a group of Latinos who said they were being disproportionately targeted in his immigration sweeps, one witness cried as he described being searched under his armpits and in the groin area by deputies inquiring about his wife and his immigration status.The Justice Department has also filed a civil rights lawsuit against him, as well.
With all that hanging over Arpaio, it’s hard to not see him using the posses as another means of getting back at a group of people who he despises, and who a lot of the people who re-elected him despise. Except now, Arpaio can do it under the guise of protecting schools.
Then there’s this thing about the volunteers. Some have criminal pasts. They’re in charge of providing their own weapons and equipment. They’re basically on their own.
Even with training, it’s hard not to see a Trayon Martin – George Zimmerman situation emerging here. Some trigger-happy volunteer suspects someone of acting strange, or dressing strange. A confrontation ensues, and someone winds up dead.