Ar­paio plans come­back speak­ing tour

Yuma Sun - - NEWS -

LAS VE­GAS — For­mer metro Phoenix Sher­iff Joe Ar­paio is re­turn­ing to the spot­light with pub­lic ap­pear­ances in Ari­zona, Ne­vada and Cal­i­for­nia fol­low­ing his par­don from Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, in­clud­ing a Las Ve­gas event this weekend that was moved be­cause of se­cu­rity con­cerns.

The pres­i­dent pardoned Ar­paio last month for his fed­eral con­vic­tion in an Ari­zona im­mi­gra­tion case, prompt­ing out­rage among Lati­nos and civil rights or­ga­ni­za­tions na­tion­ally. A judge found Ar­paio’s of­fice racially pro­filed His­panic driv­ers in traf­fic stops and he was con­victed of con­tempt of court for dis­obey­ing a court or­der to halt the prac­tice.

Ar­paio has since vowed to re­main ac­tive po­lit­i­cally with­out say­ing whether he’ll run for of­fice again — and he is hit­ting the road for a Satur­day event that has al­ready gen­er­ated con­tro­versy.

The 85-year-old law­man called “America’s Tough­est Sher­iff” by his sup­port­ers will re­ceive a “Courage Un­der Fire” award Satur­day from a con­ser­va­tive­lib­er­tar­ian group in Las Ve­gas, on the same day that Mex­i­can In­de­pen­dence Day cel­e­bra­tions take place across the city.

Or­ga­niz­ers con­sulted with po­lice and de­cided to move the Ar­paio event away from the Trop­i­cana re­sort on the Las Ve­gas Strip be­cause of con­cerns Ar­paio sup­port­ers and Mex­i­can In­de­pen­dence Day cel­e­brants might clash.

“What they said was this had the po­ten­tial to get out of con­trol,” said Chuck Muth, an ac­tivist, blog­ger and head of a group called Cit­i­zen Out­reach that is putting on the event to honor Ar­paio.

Of­fi­cer Larry Had­field, a Las Ve­gas po­lice spokesman, said depart­ment of­fi­cials met with event host ex­ec­u­tives at the ho­tel, who made the de­ci­sion about mov­ing the event away from the Trop­i­cana re­sort.

His­pan­ics ac­count for 28 per­cent of Ne­vada’s pop­u­la­tion, and Mex­i­can In­de­pen­dence Day festivities on the Strip are ex­pected to draw tens of thou­sands of peo­ple for events in­clud­ing per­for­mances by Latin megas­tars Ricky Martin and Ale­jan­dro Fernandez. Boxing fans will also be at the T-Mo­bile Arena for a fight be­tween Mex­i­can star Canelo Al­varez and Gen­nady Golovkin, a for­mer amateur star from Kaza­khstan now liv­ing in Los An­ge­les.

“We just de­cided for everyone’s safety, to move to an off-Strip lo­ca­tion,” said Muth, who said he had 150 peo­ple signed up for the award din­ner. “Hav­ing it across the street from TMo­bile was one of the con­cerns.”

Protests against Ar­paio had been planned for Satur­day but or­ga­nizer and Latino com­mu­nity ac­tivist Jose Ma­cias said the speech’s re­lo­ca­tion has hurt ef­forts to con­vince peo­ple to demon­strate.

“We re­ally want to show Ar­paio is not wel­come here be­cause of the way he’s treated our im­mi­grant com­mu­nity,” Ma­cias said.

Ar­paio’s first ap­pear­ance fol­low­ing his Aug. 25 par­don was on Tues­day, be­fore a Repub­li­can group in Prescott, Ari­zona. He is sched­uled to speak Sept. 29 at a meet­ing of a gun rights group in Fresno, Cal­i­for­nia. Ar­paio said he plans to make more speeches and has started to write a book.

Ara­pio said did not re­ceive com­pen­sa­tion for the Prescott event, would not for his Las Ve­gas speech and was not sure if he will be paid for the Fresno ap­pear­ance.

The Repub­li­can Ar­paio lost his re-elec­tion bid last Novem­ber to a lit­tle-known Demo­crat Phoenix po­lice sergeant on the same day that Trump won the pres­i­dency.

His only pub­lic ap­pear­ance be­tween the elec­tion loss and his July con­vic­tion was in June at a gun-rights rally in Mas­sachusetts.

Ar­paio worked as a Las Ve­gas po­lice of­fi­cer for six months in 1957 be­fore join­ing the fed­eral agency that later be­came the Drug En­force­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion. He said he was dis­mayed this weekend’s event was moved from the Trop­i­cana.

“It’s a sad day when you have to move a speech be­cause of de­mon­stra­tors,” he said.

Muth said the award “has noth­ing to do with the par­don” and is aimed at rec­og­niz­ing Ar­paio “for stand­ing up in the face of per­se­cu­tion — the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion go­ing after him, and the only thing they got him on was mis­de­meanor con­tempt.”

Ar­paio had faced a pos­si­ble max­i­mum six-month jail sen­tence but the par­don means his con­vic­tion is erased from the record.

Muth said he be­lieves Ar­paio “was en­forc­ing the na­tion’s im­mi­gra­tion laws, whether you agree with them or not.”

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