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Would Arpaio Recall

Make A Difference?

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Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Images by Gage Skidmore and used under a Creative Commons license.
The Only Way To Guarantee The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Never Again Devolves Into Its Current State Is Not To Recall Arpaio, But To Change The Power Of The Office


By Jeff Moses
Modern Times Magazine

April 29, 2013 — This weekend, Tiffany Wohl and some other members of Respect Arizona held what was more or less a petition signing party to get more signatures on the Sheriff Joe Arpaio recall petition that is facing a mid-May deadline.

Eight bands and about 30 artists participated in the show at downtown Phoenix’s Braggs Pie Factory. The bands included Phoenix’s original protest band The Haymarket Squares, punk quartet Button Struggler, and many more musicians who wanted to have their voice heard on the issue of Joe Arpaio.

The art for the most part included semi-witty comical attacks on “America’s toughest sheriff,” including a skateboard deck with a painting of Joe in a Klan hood on it, a blurry painting of Sheriff Joe doing the no pants dance with Jan Brewer, and about a half dozen pieces that in some way suggested Joe is a Nazi.

A particularly surreal piece was the graveyard-esque flower garden for those who have died in Joe’s jails: A vibrant piece that truly brings the entire fight against Arpaio into perspective, I think.

For me, however,the most poignant question of the night was not raised by a politically charged song, or thought provoking painting. It was a question that Marc Oxborrow, the bass player of The Haymarket Squares, asked the audience in-between songs.

Oxborrow made reference to the T-shirt he was wearing, a black and white striped shirt that said, “unsentenced” on it, which was a mock up of the clothing that Joe has his inmates wear. Oxborrow received the T-shirt at an anti-Joe event “three and half years ago,” according to the standup bass player.

Then Oxborrow inquired, “It’s been three and a half years, what do we have to do to get this asshole out of office?”

In response to his question the crowd cheered and agreed with his sentiment. But for me, it raised the question of, are they fighting the right battle?

First of all, Maricopa County loves Sheriff Joe. Most residents find the cowboy gunslinger thing to be sexy and something they are proud of. Second, I happen to think that Maricopa County residents like the idea of “criminals” being treated poorly, though they, like Joe, ignore the fact that most of Joe’s inmates are unsentenced and therefore presumed innocent. Thirdly, events like this as well as Puente Arizona events that are anti-Joe only feed Joe’s ego and bolster his support.

These events, recalls, marches and all this anti-Sheriff Joe stuff adds fuel to his bluster, but if you ask me, I think that is only half the point. Joe is such a media lightning rod that I think most of these groups fighting against him choose to fight against him because it keeps them in the news.

In my most humble opinion, I think Respect Arizona is acting as a conduit for Randy Parraz to get his second pelt to hang up on his wall next to Russell Pearce’s hide so he can make another run for governor once Jan is out of office.

I also think Puente Arizona focuses on Joe so much because it keeps the donation dollars rolling in. I think everyone realizes that there are more pressing issues than Joe Arpaio facing Maricopa County, but none as entertaining and sexy as Sheriff Joe.

Martin Luther King Jr. never wasted his time trying to remove George Wallace from office. Martin Luther King Jr. went after the racist laws Wallace attempted to defend.

I have my own personal critiques of Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement, but they at least went a little bigger picture than some small minded, goon sheriff.

Who I might add has been duly elected six times now.

And a failed recall might make it seven: something that might make both sides happy.

Jeff Moses is a senior contributor to Modern Times Magazine. He can be reached at
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