Journalism in Verse – EST. 2016

PRTN (10)

An Open Letter to Joe Arpaio on News of His Pardon by Donald Trump

in Immigration/Politics/U.S. by


You told Rolling Stone you could fill 9 million books with President Obama’s crimes, but that you didn’t have time to do it. I guess you were too busy being “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” but don’t worry, we’ve been keeping track of you. Making a record of your transgressions. We could here enumerate a battery of your offenses that would fuel Phoenix forever, but since you love free labor so much, we figured you could do the work instead.

Stack up every slice of rotten bologna and moldy bread you served your inmates. Pile up all the times you compared your “Tent City” to a concentration camp to reporters with a smile. Line up each pink sock, undershirt, and set of boxers you made male inmates wear because you thought it was degrading. Load up every postcard you gave inmates of yourself playing with puppies in an air conditioned part of the prison. The only correspondence materials inmates were allowed to use to contact their friends and families. Alphabetize all your slurs and jokes starting with “All the workers run out the back door when I come in to eat” and ending with “You want to see the tents where all the Mexicans are?” and lay them end to end. You’ve got your foundation. Now, start building.

Lay a brick for every time your deputies referred to immigrants as dirty in official police documents. A brick for every night you locked an innocent person behind an electric fence for being brown. A brick for every time you arrested someone without a warrant. A brick for every time someone had a busted headlight and got deported. A brick for every person in your armed immigration enforcement posse, which included Steven Seagal. A brick for every time you ordered deputies to target residents solely based on their ethnicity. A brick for every neighborhood sweep. A brick for every dollar of taxpayer money you used for personal travel. A brick for every investigator you hired to blackmail judges, journalists and your political opponents. A brick for every time you staged your own assassination attempt. A brick for every time you refused “to bend to the feds.” A brick for every time you called Obama’s birth certificate “a computer generated forgery.” A brick for every time you’ve been sued for race and gender discrimination. At the local, state and federal levels. A brick for every sexual assault case you ignored because the victims were undocumented. A brick for every sexual assault case you ignored because you used the money for workplace raids instead. A brick for every grievance against you that you called “civil rights crap.” A brick for every person who died in “Tent City.”

And before you know it you’ll have built your own damn border wall. Your monument to white supremacy. Your monument to dog whistle “Law and Order” policing and anti-immigrant hysteria that is older than the United States of America.

And we’re going to tear that motherfucker down. Brick by brick.

We won’t even wait for you to finish.


Read More:
Trump pardons former sheriff Joe Arpaio [CNN]
Arpaio coverage [Phoenix New Times]
The long, lawless ride of Sheriff Joe Arpaio [Rolling Stone]

Abigail Carl-Klassen has been published in ZYZZYVA, Cimarron Review, Guernica, Aster(ix) and Post Road. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best New Poets 2015. She earned an MFA from the University of Texas El Paso’s Bilingual Creative Writing Program and taught at El Paso Community College and the University of Texas El Paso.

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