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Sheriff Joe calls off chain gang at the All-Star Game

2011 All-Star Game LogoNo surprise Sheriff Joe would be elbowing his way into the spotlight during the All-Star Game, but it sounds like cooler heads prevailed over the craziness as Arpaio scrapped plans to have a chain gang picking up trash outside Chase Field Tuesday night.

Arpaio, for the uninitiated, is the controversial Maricopa County sheriff whose law-enforcement ways are controversial, to say the least: he bunks inmates in outdoor tents, dresses them in pink underwear, and in general treats them in a highly punitive fashion. Along the way he’s encountered an inoridnate amount of crticism but maintained support from Maricopa County’s conservative community, which is sizable.

His plan was to have three chain gangs picking up trash outside Chase Field during the game, presumably as a counterpoint to organized protests against Arizona’s immigration policies. One of the three gangs was to solely consist of undocumented aliens convicted of drunken-driving offenses. Not the first time he’s pulled this particular stunt; he did the same thing at the 2008 Super Bowl.

The plan didn’t sit too well with city and baseball officials, understandably; they’d rather not have televised images of chain gangs and just as soon divert attention away from the immigration issue. (Indeed, voters have chosen to recall the legislator responsible for the legislation.) So Arpaio, who isn’t quite as invincible as he once was — voters don’t care about mistreatment of immigrants, but they do care about the misspending of $99.5 million — called off the chain gang.


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