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Sheriff Joe Arpaio Draws Applause, Protests at Republican Picnic

Arpaio, who bills himself as "America's toughest sheriff," received cheers from Republicans at their annual picnic in Yorkville, and jeers from protesters outside.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff in America,” has his critics. But you’d have been hard-pressed to find any inside the Kendall County Republicans’ annual picnic Saturday in Yorkville.

As the featured speaker at this year’s event, Arpaio drew two standing ovations from the 600-strong crowd at the Kendall County Fairgounds. He spoke for an hour, and by the end, at least one man was ready to vote for him for governor of Illinois.

To find critics of the controversial lawman, you had to venture outside the fairgrounds, where about 70 people armed with signs gathered to criticize both Arpaio, and the Kendall County Republicans for inviting him to town.

Arpaio, the sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona since 1992, is famous for his “tent city” jail in Phoenix, his firm stance against illegal immigration, and his willingness to enforce those immigration laws. He is known for raiding businesses suspected of hiring illegal immigrants, for instituting the first all-female chain gang, and for denying his prisoners the comforts offered in other jails across the country.

These actions have brought him notoriety, and he has taken advantage of that, writing a book and selling the pink underwear he makes his inmates wear.

Arpaio’s supporters say he is doing his job, following the law when it comes to arresting illegal immigrants. They agree that jails should be places inmates dread, and say his tough tactics—including making convicted prisoners in those chain gangs wear t-shirts explaining their crimes—serve as a deterrent.

His critics, which include the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, and the U.S. Department of Justice (which has been investigating Arpaio on claims of racial discrimination), say he violates his prisoners’ human rights, and his methods of finding and arresting illegal immigrants are unethical.

Arpaio addressed all of those controversies on Saturday, leavening them with humor. He repeatedly said how much he enjoys being “the sheriff,” accountable only to the people who elected him.

“I took away (prisoners’) coffee, their cigarettes, their salt,” he said. “I should get the Heart Association of the Year award, and all I get is lawsuits.”

He said he invites anyone who wishes to come to Arizona and tour his tents. He admitted that the temperatures in Phoenix can get blisteringly hot, but said he sometimes exaggerates the conditions for the press, holding the thermometer at the hottest part of the tent. (“145 degrees? Wow, that’s bad,” he chuckled.)

But then, he said, he “shuts everyone up” by comparing his tents to those in which soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq spend their days and nights. Soldiers, he said, are “fighting for our country, and they’re living in tents, so why are you complaining about criminals that have been convicted, doing their time living in tents?”

Like many of his remarks, that one drew wild applause from the crowd.

Arpaio repeatedly denied that he engages in racial profiling, and said President Barack Obama should thank him for opening up jobs for American citizens. He said his organization has rounded up 50,000 illegal immigrants during his tenure.

Kendall County Sheriff Richard Randall said Arpaio is “outspoken,” and while he respects some of his methods, he does not have the manpower to carry them out here. Randall described the Kendall County Jail as “clean and quiet,” and said he keeps it that way for the staff of the sheriff’s department, who have to be there every day.

He also disagreed with Arpaio on the Arizona sheriff’s policy of serving minimal, unappealing food to inmates. His meals cost $1.24 a day, he said, in contrast to Arpaio’s, which cost 40 cents.

“I felt if we give them decent food, we can expect them to clean up after themselves, be quiet and follow the rules,” Randall said. “If they do, they get decent food. If they don’t, we take it away.”

Outside the fairgrounds, a vocal group of about 70 protesters greeted Arpiao. The group consisted of Kendall County Democrats, local labor leaders and immigration activists from across northern Illinois.

The protesters often clashed with counter-protesters, one of whom taunted the mostly Hispanic crowd with racial epithets. In turn, protesters shouted back their own insulting remarks at Arpaio's supporters.

“That sort of language is just adding fuel to the fire,” said retired teacher Linda Porter of Oswego. “The discourse in this country needs to be moving in a different direction. It’s disappointing because when people hear that they just shut their ears.”

Porter attended the protest with her husband Ted Clauser, also a retired teacher. He said he and his wife are not Democrats, but showed up to protest what they see as human rights violations in Arpaio’s Maricopa County jail.

“We live in the United States where rights of individuals are held to a high standard. Doesn’t seem like it in Arizona,” Clasuer said.

What Arpaio’s visit will do to the relationship between the Democratic and Republican parties in Kendall County remains to be seen. Porter said she doesn’t hold out much hope given the controversial invitation extended to Arpaio.

“The fact that this racist is touted as someone appropriate for a family picnic is troubling,” she said.

At one point, Arpaio took the trip to the fairground gates to meet with the protesters, and argue his case. Despite some heated moments, Randall said the protest was peaceful.

“I’m a proponent of people saying they agree to disagree,” he said. “That’s what we saw out here today. No one got out of hand.”

Ken Toftoy, chairman of the Kendall County Republicans, said he was thrilled by Arpaio’s remarks, and pleased to see this year’s picnic draw the event’s biggest audience ever.

“Some people want to be politically correct,” Toftoy said. “He’s not. But most people believe in what he does, they just don’t want to say it.”

And as for that invitation to run for governor? One attendee asked him if he would be interested, but Arpaio brushed the idea aside.

“Why would I want to go from being sheriff, where I have a gun and a badge and can lock up the governor, to being governor?” he said with a smile.

Katy K August 29, 2011 at 01:35 PM
Right on Rick!!!
Katy K August 29, 2011 at 01:43 PM
Thank You...well said!
russ harrison August 29, 2011 at 02:44 PM
"Sometimes it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.." Mark Twain
Erin August 29, 2011 at 03:48 PM
"The radical of one century is the conservative of the next. The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out the conservative adopts them." Mark Twain The Tea Party and the labor unions have so much in common: useful idiots.
Jack Steen August 29, 2011 at 06:55 PM
It's awfully suspect the way the Editors are allowing RepubliKlan comments that show great disrespect for the President of the United States and the law of the land but are censoring and removing posts that attempt to interject some opposing views to this debate here.
Jack Steen August 29, 2011 at 06:56 PM
My comment above, explained by the three comments here.
Jack Steen August 29, 2011 at 06:57 PM
Why aren't you deleting hateful RepubliKlan comments ?
Andre Salles August 29, 2011 at 07:12 PM
Jack, there are plenty of opposing views in this debate, and the people who made them did not attack other commenters or use offensive terms. Those were your offenses, and they had nothing to do with the political content of your comments.
Andre Salles August 29, 2011 at 07:13 PM
You don't see the ones I've deleted, Jack, because I've deleted them.
Terry Bermes August 29, 2011 at 07:45 PM
"Remember what is was like to have a President?" - here we go again...Not only do I remember what it was like to have a president, I currently know what it is like to have one. We all have a President now, whether you like him or not. We all had a President when W. was in office - a mediocre one at best but he was still "our" president. But to answer your question - Yes, I remember what it was like when Bush was "our" president. He started a war in Iraq that is equivalent to the US attacking Korea after Pearl Harbor. He virtually bankrupted the country by fighting two wars while at the same time passing unprecedented, for war time, tax cuts. Yes, I remember what it was like to have a President who valued myth over science. Yes, I remember what it was like to have a President who valued belligerence over diplomacy.
Terry Bermes August 29, 2011 at 07:53 PM
It's more than a tad interesting that of all the supporters of Sheriff Arpaio in this comment stream, not one person has commented at all on the businesses that use undocumented workers as being a huge part of the problem. I believe that immigration laws serve a purpose and have to be obeyed. I also believe that it is hard to blame anyone leaving their land of origin to make a better life for themselves and their families. The numbers of people entering the US illegally would be drastically reduced if there weren't so many business owners who are so willing to make use of them.
larry August 29, 2011 at 10:50 PM
Lefties love to shout down people they don't agree with. Help stop illegal immigration. HERE'S HOW: http://www.numbersusa.org/#1? You CAN make a difference!
Nick Beam August 30, 2011 at 01:04 AM
I have encouraged people to do nothing, if people would like to childishly name call because they clearly have no argument, then that shows the type of character that they have. P.S. - Financial responsibility...the CBO estimated in 2007 that the Iraq War will cost $1.9 trillion. Where's the tea party on that one? Spend, spend, spend Bush... thanks for the economy...
Nick Beam August 30, 2011 at 01:06 AM
Hahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Once again - Nothing crazier than a birther!
Michael O'Connell August 30, 2011 at 02:16 AM
I ask D. Porter how has President Obama ignored the constitution? Please be specific? Can you support your claim of "self supported dictator", or is it an emotionally charged statement because there is a man of color making national decisions? The point of the protest was to expose the treatment of brown AMERICANS. AMERICANS ARE BEING RACIALLY PROFILED. AMERICANS ARE BEING RACIALLY PROFILED. AMERICANS ARE BEING RACIALLY PROFILED. This is about AMERICANS who have brown skin. You don't know how disturbing discrimination is until you are on the receiving end.
Todd Milliron August 31, 2011 at 12:01 AM
Here is a recent Sun Times Editorial on Sheriff Joe, read it for yourself and you decide if this is mainstream or fringe? http://www.suntimes.com/opinions/7350402-474/with-sheriff-joe-gop-gets-what-it-deserves.html
Jane Enviere August 31, 2011 at 12:52 AM
"Arpaio drew two standing ovations on Saturday, plus plenty of laughs. The crowd of about 375 people — perhaps not a one of them gay or related to a gay person or friends with a gay person — guffawed particularly hard when Arpaio joked that his inmates hated the pink underwear, but “I’m sure in San Francisco it would not be a problem.” Wow -- if that doesn't say it all, I don't know what does. There's a word for this guy, but I'm pretty sure Patch would delete the post. ; ) I'll settle for bigot.
Chrisi Vineyard August 31, 2011 at 03:05 AM
The Sun Times hit the GOP right on target! very sad... here is more...If the Republican Party of Kendall County wanted to invite a mean little bigot like Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio to speak at its weekend picnic, that certainly was the party’s prerogative. Arpaio rallied the party’s base, which doesn’t say much for the base. And if in the process he drove away more compassionate and thoughtful conservatives — not to mention all those political independents who are crucial to winning national elections — well, heck, that seems to be the general plan of the Republican Party anyway.
Chrisi Vineyard August 31, 2011 at 03:09 AM
Here is more...We continue to marvel at the spectacle of a major American political party doing its darnedest to reduce itself to a club for kooks. Presented with a terrific opportunity, on economic issues alone, to win back the White House, the GOP continues to allow itself to be defined by the boobocracy — those who snort at the theory of evolution, who believe global warming is a hoax, who mock homosexuals, who demonize Muslims, who question the president’s patriotism, who believe the solution to illegal immigration is to ship 11 million people back to Mexico, and who would rather cut social services for the poor than raises taxes on billionaires. So much for the party of Lincoln, Eisenhower and Reagan.
Adam Engler August 31, 2011 at 03:28 AM
So much hate spewing from a speaker who was supposed to bring the Kendall County GOP together. If that's the case--you don't deserve my vote anymore.
Clarence Exline August 31, 2011 at 03:55 AM
To N.Beam @ C.Vineyard , why dont you two make arrangements to have a public, open debate, with the chance to demonstrate your intelectual abilities and dazzel us with your plans to transform our society to the model that you feel is in everyones best intrests. I am just a simple man and I would love to be enlightened. Why not ,game on, batter up. Just dazzel us with facts instead of just blathering on. Thank you, C.E.
Chrisi Vineyard August 31, 2011 at 04:11 AM
John McCain, US Senator (R - AZ), in a May 13, 2005 press release titled "Members of Congress Introduce Comprehensive Border Security & Immigration Reform Bill [S 2611]," available at his official US Senate website, offered the following: "It would be impossible to identify and round up all 10 to 11 million of the current undocumented, and if we did, it would ground our nation's economy to a halt. These millions of people are working. Aliens will not come forward to simply 'report and deport.' We have a national interest in identifying these individuals, incentivizing them to come forward out of the shadows, go through security background checks, pay back taxes, pay penalties for breaking the law, learn to speak English, and regularize their status. Anyone who thinks this goal can be achieved without providing an eventual path to a permanent legal status is not serious about solving this problem.
Chrisi Vineyard August 31, 2011 at 04:12 AM
Michael R. Bloomberg, MBA, 108th Mayor of the City of New York, in a July 5, 2006 transcript titled "Mayor Bloomberg Testifies Before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Field Hearing on Federal Immigration Legislation," from the City of New York Office of the Mayor's website, offered the following: "We need to get real about the people who are now living in this country illegally – in many cases raising families and paying taxes. The idea of deporting these 11 or 12 million people – about as many as live in the entire state of Pennsylvania – is pure fantasy. Even if we wanted to, it would be physically impossible to carry out. If we attempted it – and it would be perhaps the largest round-up and deportation in world history – the social and economic consequences would be devastating. Let me ask you: Would we really want to spend billions of dollars on a round-up and deportation program that would split families in two – only to have these very same people and millions more, illegally enter our country again? Of course not. America is better than that – and smarter than that. There is only one practical solution, and it is a solution that respects the history of our nation: Offer those already here the opportunity to earn permanent status and keep their families together."
Jane Enviere August 31, 2011 at 04:13 AM
I say you take that challenge, folks! Go ahead, "dazzel" him with your "intelectual" abilities. Tell us what is in "everyones" best "intrests". This post made my day. LMAO
Chrisi Vineyard August 31, 2011 at 04:14 AM
George W. Bush, 2006 "...We've got to make sure that we resolve the status of illegal immigrants who are already in this country. It's an interesting debate taking place in America -- I'll give you my position. One, I do not think we ought to grant amnesty to people who are here illegally. And the reason I don't is I think that will encourage a whole other bunch of people to come. But I know you cannot deport 10 million people who have been here working. It's unrealistic. It may sound good in certain circles and political circles. It's not going to work. The best plan is to say to somebody who has been here illegally, if you've been paying your taxes, and you've got a good criminal record, that you can pay a fine for being here illegally, and you can learn English, like the rest of us have done, and you can get in a citizenship line to apply for citizenship. You don't get to get in the front, you get to get in the back of the line. But this idea of deporting people is just not -- it doesn't make any sense to me, and it doesn't make any sense to a lot of people who understand this issue. So here's a reasonable way to treat people with respect and accomplish what we want to accomplish, which is to be a country of law and a country of decency and respect... in order to make a comprehensive immigration plan work, we've got to help folks assimilate into our society... I expect the United States Congress to do its duty and pass comprehensive immigration reform."
Heather Gryder August 31, 2011 at 02:38 PM
I think the patch needs to consider a limit on how many comments one person can leave on the same subject.
Clarence Exline September 01, 2011 at 03:58 AM
C.Vineyard , you must not have much to do to be able to post so much. Your comments demonstrate a total lack of knowledge of what is happening to every segment of our society because of the philosophy that you blindly follow. Dont drag us along if you by making stupid statements, such as it is the duty of congress to adopt and promote your views. Just have a public debate on the issues and the facts that apply to your positions. I feel that most of us are wasting our time by even posting anything to you. I will not post to you after this because I would rather wait for you to organize a public forum open to debate on the issues. It is too easy for you to post without the risk of being shown how foolish you retoric is.Game on, batter up. Step up to the plate and dazzel us with your intelectual capacity. C.Exline.
Richard September 01, 2011 at 04:29 AM
Here, read this editorial and decide of the Chicago Sun Times is just a member of the liberal propoganda wing and the state run media. A much fairer look at what Sheriff Joe has done than the liberal talking points above. http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/middle-class-guy/2011/aug/30/chicago-sun-time-insults-sheriff-joe-arpaio/
Jane Enviere September 01, 2011 at 05:53 AM
The Times is known for its conservative bent. It's just trading one for another then, isn't it?
Andre Salles September 01, 2011 at 11:57 AM
I think we're going around and around here, and devolving into personal insults. I'm calling it a day on this thread.

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