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By Anne T. Denogean
Let`s be clear. I think Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is a bully with a badge.
But I don`t think you persuade the public that the man is an out-of-control, raving lunatic by behaving like out-of-control, raving lunatics.
That`s the kindest description I have for the immigration rights protesters who beat to a pulp a piĂ±ata meant to represent the sheriff during Arpaio`s visit to Tucson last week.
This was the scene for those who missed Thursday evening`s piece of street theater on East Broadway.
The sheriff came to town to plug his new book (an homage to himself) with a book-signing and a live radio interview with KNST-AM (790) at Barnes & Noble Booksellers. And where the state`s finest ringmaster goes, a circus inevitably will pop up.
The CoaliciĂłn de Derechos Humanos (Human Rights Coalition) organized a protest. The normal stuff. Some chanting and marching. Folks carrying signs calling the sheriff a fascist. A few protesters even infiltrated the sizable crowd of Arpaio supporters and disrupted the live radio broadcast by shouting out insults.
What occurred about midway through the protest, however, was truly disturbing. Several young protesters outside the store brought out a piĂ±ata meant to represent Arpaio.
The piĂ±ata, with a picture of Arpaio`s face taped or glued to the head, was clad in a sheriff`s uniform and equipped with pink handcuffs. One woman held up the piĂ±ata, while two teenage girls took turns bashing it with sticks. The Tucson Citizen ran a picture the next day of a teenage boy carting away the remains of the beheaded piĂ±ata.
The spectacle reminded me of the antics of an extremist on the other side of the issue, a Tucson man who does his best to incite riots by burning Mexican flags in public places. I wondered how Garcia would react if the virulent anti-illegal immigrant hard-liners were to burn her in effigy or hang a papier-mĂ˘chĂ© figure meant to represent an Mexican illegal immigrant.
Garcia told me Friday that she thought the Arpaio piĂ±ata was great, although she said it wasn`t brought in by organizers.
“I think it`s a fair expression of First Amendment rights. I thought it was funny. It had him with the pink underwear and, of course, his face. And it`s a piĂ±ata. It was a fun thing for the kids that broke it,” she said. [More]
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