The Round Mound of Rebound Pitches a Tent.

"What do you think an artist is? He is a political being, constantly aware of the heart breaking, passionate, or delightful things that happen in the world, shaping himself completely in their image. Painting is not done to decorate apartments. No, it is an instrument of war.""
-Pablo Picasso.

As you may know, I have an extreme passion for basketball. Growing up in Arizona, especially during the early 90's, I wound up becoming a rabid, and lifelong fan of the Phoenix Suns.

One of my favorite players as a kid was Charles Barkley, or "The Round Mound of Rebound." His playing was interesting, and everything about him seemed to exude this enormous amount of attitude and charm that demanded a level of respect I wish I knew how to capitalize on myself.

Throughout his career, and even up until now, he's never been a person you would consider to be shy. Many bar fights, gambling habits and controversial statements have kept him someone who, despite if you love him or hate him, still manages to keep you not only entertained but captivated.

Recently, ol' Barkley was popped for a DUI offense. One thing that I can't say I've ever denied with Sir Charles is that he lacked any amount of integrity. In denying to allow his celebrity status, he willing had himself incarcerated for ten days in another notorious local Arizonians' playground, Tent City.

For those of you who aren't aware, Tent City is most definitely a place you do not want to find yourself in. Everything about it screams, basically, internment camp.

Arizona reaches temperatures of at least 125 during it's peak in the summer. Tent City is an outdoor prison, and it stems from "Americas Toughest Sheriff" Joe Arpaio.

The problem with Joe is that during the past decade or so, all that standing out in the sun, and oppressing minorities and those just awaiting trial, must have bleached his once pink brain to a soft mushy gray.

I wish I could make up a character as unbelievable as this, because thats what he is--a character. The laws he's imposed reach far beyond that of his alloted duties. Throughout the years, he's been the subject of so much controversy, it makes my head spin.

Any other elected official, or civil servant who's cost not only the County which he serves (Maricopa) as well as his State millions and millions and millions of taxpayers money would have been kicked swiftly out on his ass, after having done time in his own institution.

He's refused amnesty, admitted to leaving objects in the open for prisoners to harm themselves/each other, caused several pregnant women/teens to miscarry, attempted to quell free speech, had several mentally retarded or unstable/blind individuals to die due to his mens tortuous practices, allowed several of his officers to receive hand jobs/touch suspected prostitutes breasts and asses all under the guise of "proving they weren't cops", turning a blind eye to his men breaking a paraplegics neck, hesitated to give any evidence of 15 of his men guilty of smothering a naked inmate male to death, neglected to pay attention to a nearly 20 minute brutal beating and murder of an inmate at the hands of another inmate even seemingly not noticing that the deceased inmate was dragged down the hall and left out in the open before any guard responded, and even killed a dog. I mean really? A fucking dog?? And this literally is just the tip of the ice berg.

This isn't the old west anymore, and someone needs to inform Joe of this.

I understand prison exists for a reason, but I'm also not ignorant to the fact that many of the people behind bars are guilty of nothing more than maybe smoking marijuana. Most drug offenders and users shouldn't be incarcerated in my opinion. In Holland, the government willingly provides not only drugs for users, but services to help them get clean and safe environments in which to do said narcotics. Holland has one of the lowest drug problems in the world, and I think thats indicative of forward thinking, and taking a chance.

Arpaio has done enough damage to civil liberties, caused enough human suffering, spat in the face of the judicial system, and taken it upon himself to be the judge, jury and executioner, often times skipping that whole pesky "fair trial" business and sending a person who's not even convicted to Tent City.

I understand that child touchers, murderers, rapists or other convicted criminals of violent crimes do need to be reprimanded. But as hard of a pill as that is to swallow, these are still human beings, and while they are stripped of their civil rights, are still entitled to human rights as they are in fact human beings.

Prison politics, while seemingly inconceivable and unimaginable, more often then not take care of wife beaters and child touchers in quite fair ways. Once convicted, I don't feel any sort of mercy for the guilty when those cell doors lock, because as far as I'm concerned that individual had his day in court with a jury of his peers, and now gets to take his punishment from his peers. What I'm saying is that I don't fault prisoners for extracting the revenge families of the accosted wish they could take out on said individual.

But it isn't up for the guards to decide, and if something does go down, those guards need to be their, dutifully mind you, to break it up. Thats what they are paid to do, thats where my money is going.

Many of the crimes the Bush Administration was guilty of, most notably torture (such as water boarding) are things that Arpaio is guilty of himself. During the last eight years, he's had basically a free pass to whatever he wants, whenever he wants and no one can ask a question or say anything otherwise, lest they wind up finding a gram of coke in their glove box when they get pulled over for a "routine" stop.

But now the economy is circling the drain, and if not for the every single one of those inhumane issues discussed above, then for the simple fact that he bleeds out more money than Charles Barkley ever has with his gambling habits. And much more frequently, as well.

In the span of three years, he was the subject of 2,150 lawsuits, which is more than 50 times as many prison-conditions lawsuits as the New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston jail systems combined. Combined. Maricopa County has paid out 43 million dollars in settlement claims during his tenure.

Any CEO who cost his company that much in lawsuits would be strung up by his neck on Wall Street for all the peasants to beat with sticks and rocks. So why is it so different for the State of Arizona to tie his ass to a cactus, and let the families of those wronged by him to make him account for his transgressions? I realize thats not a feasible punishment, but it certainly fits his conduct of business.

I think the answer lays within the fact that Arizona is a Red State, through and through. And Neo-Conservatives hate change more than they hate minorities and the poor. The simple notion of a new man in town paints every single one of their collective khakis yellow from the crotch to the leg.

"What if it's a black man, or God forbid...a Mex-E-can?" The boarders will be opened wide within a week, queers will be fucking on the front lawn of the governors mansion. Judges will be allowed to do their job, and Joe Arpaio will melt, because all of his power is stored within his mighty badge.

It's time for a change. Not only in Maricopa County, not only in Arizona, not only in America, but world wide. The simple fact that theres a gestapo like task force in the Land of the Free should terrify every individual, especially those who thought, "Change? Yes We Can."

It's time to remove him from office, and rebuild the tarnished reputation of a fair county and it's cities.