Sheriff Joe Arpaio is dispatching armed posse members to "guard" black churches in the Phoenix area. Call me cynical, but something about this makes my skin crawl.
There's the whole issue of armed guards in churches, for one thing. That's just not a very welcoming thing, nor does it feel like the right response to a terrible event.
And then there's just the fact of Arpaio himself, who is roundly despised by minority communities in Phoenix for his racial profiling and hamhanded ways.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who already is under federal supervision because of a ruling two years ago that his office racially profiled Hispanics in its traffic and immigration patrols, is scheduled to go to trial in August in a separate lawsuit alleging additional discrimination against Latinos.
He said the Rev. Jarrett Maupin, who describes himself as a Progressive Baptist preacher and civil-rights campaigner on his Facebook page, asked him to provide the protection because he was worried about problems with white supremacists in the area.
"I am the elected sheriff of this county. He asked me to help, and I'm going to help," Arpaio said Friday.
Well, it's true that Arizona has its share of haters and white supremacists, but this feels much more opportunistic than altruistic.
Here's one Phoenix resident's reaction, via Twitter:
That more or less parallels mine. It makes sense for him to make a public relations move ahead of his pending trial, but still. The idea of that man sending armed posse members into churches feels much more like a threat than protection.
Let's see what other situations have motivated Arpaio to send the posse out.
He sent them into the schools to "protect" them, even though at least one of his posse members was a known sex offender.
He dispatched his "Cold Case Posse" to look into President Obama's birth certificate.
There was the "air posse" to hunt immigrants at the border, too.
And that wasn't the only immigrant posse he formed. In 2010, he wanted to put together a posse to hunt down immigrants in Maricopa County rural areas. David Neiwert had something to say about that:
But you'll notice that both Cavuto's softballs and the friendly local press are missing something -- namely, how closely Arpaio's citizen immigrant hunters resemble the vigilante patrols being organized by neo-Nazi J.T. Ready -- who recently announced that he would be seeking to obtain official sanction for his program.
Perhaps the pastors of these churches would like to reconsider the idea of welcoming Sheriff Joe's armed civilian posse members into their churches. It's a little like inviting the serpent in to have his choice of what to eat for dinner.
Video below, via Fox10Phoenix: