La Frontera Times reporter Alfredo Gutierrez has the latest (2/6/09) from new Fox reality show star Joe Arpaio. The Arizona sheriff, under FBI investigation for violating civil rights in his crusade against immigration, recently marched all of the Maricopa County immigrant detainees–chained together in full prisoner uniforms–down the street “from the Durango Jail to the [new segregated] facility”:
The parade was on a public road, Gibson Street in Phoenix, but the road was closed to all but the press. The press was notified of the public spectacle the day before and arrangements were made for all media to be present and photograph and film the prisoners. All the major television stations were present as were newspapers and radio and television helicopters hovered overhead. The forced march though short had one intended effect: it was a publicity orgy for the sheriff.
Remarking on “a particular sadness in witnessing this spectacle of human degradation,” Gutierrez writes that “the symbolism was unmistakable, the men of color, the public humiliation, the forced march, the segregated camp”–but for the ever-sensationalistic U.S press, the only symbol that really matters is a dollar sign.