Protest Against Sheriff Joe Turns Violent
The AP via YellowBrix
January 18, 2010
PHOENIX, AZ – Thousands of immigrant rights advocates marched in front of a county jail in Phoenix Saturday in a protest that was aimed at Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s immigration efforts and was marked by a clash between a small group of protesters and police officers.
Organizers say the protest was meant to show officials in Washington that Arpaio shouldn’t handle immigration enforcement, and that Congress and the Obama administration need to come up with a way for immigrant workers to come to the country legally.
The three-mile walk that started in a west Phoenix park ended by afternoon at the Durango Jail Complex, a collection of five jails, where officials played music, including a record by singer Linda Ronstadt, to drown out noise made by protesters. Ronstadt took part in Saturday’s protest.
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Protesters chanted “Joe must go” as they approached the jail complex. One person carried a sign that said “We are human” and bore a picture of a lawman with a wolf’s face. A family of five wore T-shirts saying “Who would Jesus deport?”
For his part, Arpaio said he wasn’t bothered by the protesters and that they should be directing their frustrations at Congress because it has the power to change America’s immigration laws.
“They are zeroing in on the wrong guy,” Arpaio said. “They ought to be zeroing in on the president.”
The demonstration was peaceful until police say protesters near the end of the procession started throwing water bottles at officers. Phoenix Police Lt. Pat Hofmann said officers used pepper spray as they tried to separate protesters from an officer who was trying to take away the bottles.
Phoenix police spokesman Sgt. Andy Hill said on-scene supervisors described a group of demonstrators purposefully disrupting the demonstration by assaulting several police officers and a police horse.
He said one demonstrator struck a police sergeant on the head and chest with a flagpole. Two others threw water bottles, possibly containing rocks, at other officers, but missed.
Hill also said a police officer on horseback was assaulted while her horse was mobbed, punched and pushed. The officer used pepper spray to stop the assault.
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