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Washington state veterans group cancels Arpaio event amid backlash

Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, left, leaves U.S. District Court on the first day of contempt-of-court trial with attorney Mark Goldman, right, Monday, June 26, 2017, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX — A Washington state nonprofit organization has canceled an event featuring former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio amid public backlash.

Arpaio had informally announced on Twitter Sunday that he would be featured at an event for Gr8ter Veterans, a Spokane-based group that advocates for veterans’ support, in March.

But the next day, the group said in a statement on its Facebook page that it decided that the event “does not best reflect our views on community (both veteran and nationally) as we seek to unite and not divide this country.

“Therefore we collectively have decided to cancel this event and end all affiliation with Sheriff Joe,” the statement read.

“As President Lincoln said, ‘A house divided against itself cannot stand.'”

According to The Spokesman-Review, a local newspaper, Gr8ter Veterans founder Nick Richardson said the group was approached with the idea to partner with the former lawman, but decided to step back from the event after receiving emails and reading comments on its Facebook page.

“Our decision to step back was made so we can remain more apolitical,” he told the publication.

“I do not want to divide this nation. I was taught in the Army there’s only one color that matters and that’s camouflage,” Richardson added. “We shouldn’t judge each other on political party affiliation and I don’t feel like this event would unite this community or the country.”

However, no attendees will have to ask for their money back: Richardson said no tickets for the event — which were advertised between $60 and $900 — were sold.

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