A protest of Maricopa County Sheriff Joseph Arpaio’s visit to Las Vegas on Friday became heated when the Arizona lawman tried to talk to participants.
Arpaio is a supporter Arizona’s tough new immigration law making it a crime under state law to be in the U.S. illegally. The law requires police to question people about their immigrant status if they suspect they are here illegally.
Chants of “go home” and “leave” were directed at Arpaio as he approached the group rallying outside of Stoney’s Rockin’ Country bar, where he was speaking to a conservative group.
“I have a right to be in Las Vegas,” Arpaio said. “If I told them to go home, I’d be the bad guy.”
Metro Police had about 25 officers at the scene as a precaution, Lt. Dan McGrath said. Only three officers stood between the group of protesters and the sheriff.
Arpaio said he doesn’t understand why there was a protest of Arizona’s law. No one is asking for anyone’s papers unless they commit a crime, he said.
Protesters allege Arpaio is racist and harasses people based on the color of their skin.
Sara Elsing, 50, was screaming and demanding that Arpaio leave. She said he should go back to Arizona, because Nevada doesn’t want a similar immigration law.
“I feel like Arpaio got on the wrong plane,” Elsing said. “He needs to go to Germany and to concentration camps, where his beliefs are valued.”
Arpaio said Maricopa County police arrested 25 illegal aliens working in a Phoenix business on Thursday. He said some of them had phony IDs.
“I should be a hero,” Arpaio said. “They should be thanking me.”
Instead, people carried signs, blew whistles and recited the Pledge of Allegiance.
Joseph Tatner, a Republican running for the 1st Congressional District seat, was there and said he was “against amnesty but for immigration reform. I try to unite people. Don’t call me a racist.”
Speaking to a protester, Tatner said, “Let’s face it, the vast majority of illegal aliens come into the country from Mexico.”
The protester responded by telling Tatner he would never be elected.