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AZ: police state

September 18, 2010

My home state reminds me often of my old home state, PA. The dynamics between Phoenix and Tucson are reminiscent of Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh. At least in one respect, however, I haven’t heard of PA being as bad as AZ. They don’t have a PR-famished, lawsuit-ridden ideologue ruining the justice system in Philly and exporting that failure throughout the state…well, not that I know of, anyway.

This diary on Daily Kos chronicles a week in the life of Joe Arpaio, Maricopa county sheriff (Maricopa being the Phoenix area county). Even the writer has to remind you, this is just a week’s worth of shame! Damn. It is a testament to the idiocy of the electorate up Phoenix way that this man still runs the jails as opposed to occupying a cell in one. Let’s see, the highlights…

  • He wants to recruit and equip vigilantes to search for illegal immigrants
  • Millions paid out in lawsuits as a result of his wrongful arrests, prisoners dying in his jails, and his harassment of county officials he doesn’t get along with
  • Arpaio minions losing their jobs or going on paid leave for misconduct and bogus political corruption cases
  • …and to top it off, the USDOJ is suing him too for failing to cooperate with their investigation, threatening millions more in federal funding

It really does impress me that with a record like this, the conservatives up north prize Sheriff Joe so, even as their own area’s crime rates suffer compared to the rest of the state. I guess his supporters must not be feeling it. And this is the sort of ‘justice’ they want to force on the rest of the state with S.B. 1070, inviting lawsuits from conservative cranks and racists if they don’t think law enforcement is hunting brown people with sufficient zeal.

Sadly, like Pittsburgh, our voices get drowned out by the volume of grumpy old men in the bigger city. And by attacking achievement as ‘elitism,’ they’ve made incompetence into a virtue.

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