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APRIL 12, 2012 2:00PM

Joe Arpaio: The movie

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Coming to theaters near you

"Two Americans"

The Arizona International Film Festival begins tomorrow in Tucson.  One of the featured films will be a documentary “Two Americans about Joe Arpaio and a 9 year-old girl, Katherine Figueroa.  As Stephen Lemons at The Phoenix New Times stated, the film is “about Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s reign of terror and error in Maricopa County.”  Lemons went on to say:  

“The film follows Arpaio as he hunts illegal immigrants, terrorizing anyone in Maricopa County with brown skin or an accent, but it also delves into Arpaio's lust for power, the profound corruption of his office, and his retaliation against anyone who opposes him. 

Contrasted with this Mephistophelean character is American-born Katherine Figueroa, a 9 year-old girl whose parents are arrested and incarcerated as a result of Arpaio's raid on a Phoenix carwash. Figueroa garners national attention when a YouTube video of her, tearful and appealing for the help of President Obama goes viral. 

Thrust into the media spotlight, this courageous youngster takes up her parents' cause, participating in demonstrations and even testifying before a Congressional panel about her experience.” 

Many of you may have seen the 2009 video of Katherine Figueroa passionately pleading for the release of her parents who were incarcerated after Arpaio's raid on the carwash where they worked:  

This widely-seen YouTube video served as an inspiration for the “Two Americans”  filmmakers. This new documentary was co-produced by Valeria Fernández and Dan De Viivo. 


Valeria Fernández is an award-winning journalist in Arizona and Dan De Vivo is a rising documentary filmmaker from New York.  De Vivo’s most recent film Crossing Arizona was an official selection at the Sundance Film Festival in the year of its release.

The Fernández–De Vivo documentary focuses on two individual Americans, Arpaio and Figueroa.  But it also brings to light two “groups” of Americans, both of which are immigrant groups in Arizona, and both of which are being exploited by Joe Arpaio in order for him to retain power.   

The first group, Hispanic immigrants, are vividly depicted in the film.  They represent l'ennemi in Arpaio’s empire.  The sheriff is engaging in a war against this group for two primary reasons: (1) to maintain his “America’s Toughest Sheriff” image and (2) to keep this group away from the polls. 

The second group of immigrants, retirees from out-of-state, represent le petit bourgeoisie in Arpaio’s empire.  The sheriff and the Arizona Tea Party puppet-masters have managed to brainwash the members of this group into thinking that the Tea Party agenda is in their best interest, and they have sought to maximize this group's turnout at the polls. 

There are 76.4 million baby boomers living in America, and most of them have (or will) retire within the next two decades.  According to this report, 18% of the retirees (13.8 million) will relocate to Arizona, coming mostly from Midwestern states.  A very large percentage of the retirees will move into the hundreds of gated retirement communities located throughout the state. 

Arizona, along with Florida, has the highest gated-community residency (per capita) in the nation.  These gated communities range from trailer parks to high-end country clubs with dedicated security, convenience shopping, medical and recreational facilities.  These are basically "compounds" for Midwest immigrants living in the state of Arizona. 

Like other compounds, these retirement communities tend to be isolated from the rest of Arizona society.  That is why Bob and Mary Jones have found it difficult to identify with the brown-skinned, foreign-speaking people who they see when they venture outside of their compound.  It is nothing like the experiences that they had while growing up in Cedar Rapids.   

And it is this alienation that Arpaio and the Tea Party puppet-masters have successfully been able to exploit.  You will notice that all of the group meetings that Arpaio attended in the movie trailer took place at senior community centers.  In fact, all of Arpaio’s formal speeches, like his Obama-Birther Announcement, took place at churches and halls in places like Sun City West, the ultimate baby boom retirement community.

The Joe Arpaios, Russell Pearces and Jan Brewers in this state have tapped into the latent xenophobia that exists in these communities and have used fear-mongering as a means to advance their Tea Party agenda. 

Many of the Arizona Tea Party initiatives like the gun-carry laws (which have placed Arizona at the top of the nation in regard to gun-related deaths) and the anti-environmental legislation (which eliminates state funding for green projects) aren’t actually in the best interest of the members of the retirement communities. 

But, the retirees have found themselves blindly supporting these initiatives through their cult-like devotion to the Arizona Tea Party.

The sad thing is that Joe Arpaio doesn’t personally care about the individuals in either of the two Arizona immigrant groups noted above. 

For him they serve only one purpose - Keeping him in power.


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I am so thankful that I'm not an American.

Yeah, we've got problems up here in Canada too; but nothing like this guy.

One day he's going to fall, and when he does there'll be plenty of people ready to testify against him in court. He's going to just love being Big Bubba's new wife. For life!
Take him down. Good point about those gated compounds. They are creepy. Them versus Us mentality makes Arizona scary.
Next thursday, Phoenix Friends Meeting (Quakers!) at 18th and East Glendale will be hosting a community forum about the MCSO, with speakers from the Goldwater Institute, and AZ ACLU, at 6 pm. I will likely be at work, but it is open and maybe you are interested in meeting some likeminded phoenician activists, writers, and artists. Including the folks that helped get that jackass Thomas disbarred, for gross corruption and abuse of power in pursuing legal action as a form of intimidation.
Arpaio's going to have his police department goose-stepping in parades if he's not taken off of the power trip soon.
Wow I am so shocked and fascinated by this. Thanks for sharing this poignant situation with us here.
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............... *•.¸.•* ♥⋆★•❥ Thanx (ツ) & ♥ L☼√Ξ ☼ ♥
⋆───★•❥ ☼ .¸¸.•*`*•.♥ (ˆ◡ˆ) ♥⋯ ❤ ⋯ ★(ˆ◡ˆ) ♥⋯ ❤ ⋯ ★
Why do we leave the "eligibility" issue to this guy?? Why don't we meet it head on and put it to rest. This "attack the messenger" rather than his work only creates more birthers... get this issue into court, have all the "evidence" submitted and have the court rule...DONE, OVERWITH, MOVE-ON.
Kate you forget Mr. Arpaio is re-elected every 4 years by very large majorities that include the groups you think he hates.