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Think Tank discusses new book on Arpaio, racial profiling, traffic stops

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

This article originally appeared May 7, 2021

“Best Of” rebroadcasts are carefully selected shows from the most interesting and significant broadcasts. This week’s show clearly fits that bill.

Terry Greene Sterling was regularly selected by her peers as journalist of the year and is now journalist in residence at Arizona State University’s Cronkite School of Journalism. Jude Joffe-Block is a Phoenix-based journalist who works for the Associated Press.

They have collaborated on a new book “Driving While Brown: Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the Latino Resistance.” It documents, of course, the story of Sheriff Joe. But it is also the story of the (mostly Latino) resistance that developed in response to his aggressive anti-immigration policies.

I found this to be an “I-can’t-put-it-down” book. Even as one who has followed the career of Arpaio for over 25 years, I found it fascinating to learn in detail of the grass-roots movement that arose in opposition to his policies.

Some of these were well-known and included both former and current officeholders. But some of the most significant figures labored in relative obscurity.

To an equal extent as Sheriff Joe, this book is about their decadeslong struggle with him and his policies. Like a novel, the story involves both victories and losses and documents an extended struggle and is ultimately a book with a lesson about the value of persistence in the face of obstacles.

And, for those who were not here at the beginning of his tenure, there will be surprises.

For example, one of his first forays into the issue was when a citizen, Patrick Haab, held a group of presumably undocumented immigrants at gunpoint in a “citizen’s arrest.”

Arpaio’s department had the gun-wielding Haab arrested. Clearly the “Sheriff Joe” that became the champion of the anti-immigration forces did not start out this way, his positions evolved over time.

And the authors don’t just relate events, they tell the stories of some of the most noteworthy players in this drama.

We get a sense of their humanity, their conflicts, and their struggles. This makes the book not only a definitive treatment of the Arpaio phenomenon, but also a highly readable, gripping story.

Green Sterling and Joffe-Block are our guests this week. They tell a compelling story.

The Think Tank airs on KTAR 92.3 FM on Saturday 6-7 p.m. and Sundays 9-10 p.m.

Podcasts are available after broadcast.

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