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Thousands of protesters rally outside of the Sheriff’s Tent City jail

Critics of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio gathered
Saturday for a
vigil and rally to protest Tent City, the outdoor complex
of canvas jail tents.

Thousands of protesters rallied to demand an end to the
Tent City jail.
The crowd grew to nearly 3,000 demonstrators who came to
voice their
opinions about the Sheriff’s jail policies.

The activists descended on Tent City, demanding it be shut
down for
inhumane conditions.

Rev. Geoffrey A. Black with the United Church of Christ
toured Tent City
Saturday afternoon and said it hurt him to know that this
type of jail is
allowed to operate.

“I walked around and saw men and women in this kind of
heat, living in
intense outdoors,” Black said.

Protester Rob Mc Elwain was holding a sign reading ‘Arpaio
Surrender’ at
the rally.

“We are here to protest the conditions at Tent City and
the kinds of
practices that Joe Arpaio has carried out for years here
in Phoenix,” Mc
Elwain said.

Maricopa County prisons were in a security override status
and inmates were
prevented

from seeing friends and family on Saturday.

The protest started at about 6:00 p.m. in front of Tent
City, located at
29th Avenue and Durango. Durango was closed between 27th
and 35th
Avenues during the protest.

Not everyone present was an opponent of the Tent City
policy. Rally
attendee Kathryn Kobar came out in support of the Sheriff.

“It does get hot in the summer but if you don’t want to be
in Tent City,
don’t break the law,” Kobar said.

The Sheriff was in attendance at the protest to support
his policies and said
as long as he’s in charge, Tent City is not going away.

“They worry about the heat but I say this over and over
again, our men and
women are in Iraq, Afghanistan, it’s about 115 degrees
[Saturday] serving
our country,” Arpaio said.

Arpaio has come under intense scrutiny for the extreme
conditions at Tent
City, including blazing hot temperatures, poor
quality/spoiled food and
lack of medical care for inmates.

The Tent City protest was organized by Puente Arizona, the
immigrant
rights group, and the Unitarian Universalist Association,
which is hosting its
annual convention this weekend in Phoenix.

Saturday night’s protest cost taxpayers thousands of
dollars with Arpaio
and Phoenix police departments beefing up manpower. The
Sheriff said
he’s sending the bill to protest organizers.

“This cost a lot of money. You can thank these
demonstrators. I am going
to check the law and see if I can charge them. I am sure I
can’t get by with
it. We are here defending our tent city, my officers, the
Phoenix police,”
Arpaio said.