The scheduled appearance of a controversial Arizona sheriff in Carson City this weekend has already sparked plans for a protest march through town.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Ariz., will speak on "What's Right With America" at noon Saturday at the Weaver Aircraft hangar at Carson City Airport. His appearance is sponsored by the Carson City Republican Central Committee, the Carson City Republican Women's Club and the Nevada Republican Assembly.
Arpaio has drawn adoration from conservatives and criticism from liberals for his tough law-and-order policies in Maricopa County - requiring jail inmates to wear pink underwear and register for the Selective Service System, and allowing them to register as organ donors - and he's been outspoken against illegal immigration.
But his appearance has prompted the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Northern Nevada and the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada to schedule a peaceful demonstration Saturday in Carson City.
"Sheriff Arpaio's practices are separating and destroying families and the larger fabric of the community in Phoenix," said the Rev. Neal T. Anderson, a Unitarian Universalist minister from Reno. "He directs his department to employ racial profiling, discrimination and civil rights abuses."
Carol Howell, second vice chairwoman of the CCRCC, said the Republican group expects at least 300 people to attend the appearance. Tickets are $20 for the speech, and a no-host lunch will be available with proceeds going to Friends In Service Helping, a local anti-hunger nonprofit.
After Arpaio's speech, he plans to mingle with attendees until about 2 p.m., she said. Other talking points will include maintaining inmate populations, law and order, and his other experiences as sheriff.
Carson City Republican Maurice White said he contacted two Hispanic groups before plans were firm to gauge their response to Arpaio's visit.
"The Nevada Latinos for Prosperity in Reno are excited about the project, but the United Latino Community in Carson City was not particularly enthused," White said. "They feel he is far outside of their expectations regarding immigration. They try to have a Latino community that is informed and engaged, but they try to remain non-political."
White said he feels good about having contacted the Carson City group, regardless.
"It's my opinion that we need an exchange of information," he said.
Paul Jackson of Reno, who acted as a liaison for Arpaio on a recent trip to Las Vegas, arranged to have the sheriff come to Northern Nevada for several events.
"I got to know him in Las Vegas, and when a friend needed a speaker for the North Valleys Republican Women's group Friday night, he agreed to come here for that, so we planned some other appearances," Jackson said. "He likes to meet people, and the Carson City event will be small enough that most will get a chance to meet him personally."
Asked whether Arpaio had any higher political aspirations, Jackson said he couldn't be sure.
"He says 'No,' but then again, I'm not his confidant," Jackson said.
Anderson of the Reno church said he expects about 100 people to participate in the Carson City demonstration, and will provide a briefing at 11 a.m. Saturday in the parking lot of St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Community, at 300 N. Lompa Lane. He then will lead a march to the airport, a few blocks away.
"We will peacefully demonstrate that we stand on the side of love against fear, intimidation, discrimination and racial profiling," Anderson said. "We know that our communities in Northern Nevada will not stoop to the tactics and message that Sheriff Arpaio brings with him."
Carson City Sheriff Kenny Furlong said that no permit is needed for the protest, and that his department does not have any plans to be there.
"The people in this town won't give him any trouble. We know Joe. Joe Arpaio has been here before, two or three years ago," Furlong said. "We're going to have our hands full with Street Vibrations that day."
Tickets to Arpaio's speech are available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 775-841-1800.