Heroes in Hard Times

There is nothing I am more moved by than men and women who stand up against cruelty, hatred and discrimination.  These three scorpions are popular pets amongst way too many, carried on their shoulders and in their hearts.  Joe Arpaio would be one such person.  So those who stand against his bullying under color of the law deserve our special attention and should be in our pantheons of heroes way higher than the make-believe heroes we make such a fuss over.

 Salvador Reza, [is] an Air Force veteran with long experience in organizing Latino entrepreneurs and day laborers. When Sheriff Arpaio teamed up with local business owners to harass day laborers in 2007, Mr. Reza helped organize weekly protests outside M. D. Pruitt’s furniture store, a now-legendary series of confrontations that drew Minutemen vigilantes and white supremacists to one side of the street, and Mr. Reza and his supporters, accompanied by traditional dancers and musicians, to the other.

Mary Rose Wilcox, the only Democrat, woman and Latina on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, was an early critic of Sheriff Arpaio’s, speaking out against his “saturation patrols” of Latino neighborhoods in 2008, when few other elected officials dared to defy the sheriff. She paid a heavy price: she was indicted by a grand jury in 2009 on dozens of trumped-up corruption charges.

 Lydia Guzman is like a 911 operator for the community. Her advocacy organization, Respect-Respeto, monitors reports of civil-rights violations by the police and sheriff’s deputies and spreads the word so immigrants know their rights when they are detained.

Dennis Gilman is a relentless independent videographer — the chronicler of Arizona in the age of Sheriff Arpaio. When immigration tension erupts, or bad policing happens, you will often find Mr. Gilman and his camera — at white supremacist rallies, pro-immigrant marches, politicians’ and lawyers’ news conferences and the sheriff’s “crime suppression” sweeps.

And quite a  few others.  Thanks to Lawrence Downes and the New York Times for bringing us news about these folks. Let their courage and tenacity spread like fire to many others.

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