Phoenix: Several thousand demonstrators gathered in front of Arpaio's "Tent City" last night. They rallied for the closure of the most heinous prison in the country. The conditions at "Tent City" complex are inhumane. The canvas tents provide little protection from the 115 degree heat during Arizona summers. Vermin and disease surround the prisoners. Last year, temperatures inside the temporary structures hit 145 degrees, more than 30 degrees hotter than the outside high for that day. The canvas jail, which has been criticized by an Amnesty International report, can house up to 2,000 inmates, all of whom have been convicted of non-violent crimes or are detainee undocumented immigrants, uncharged. Arpaio forces them to wear pink underwear and striped uniforms, laughing and mocking the detainees' misery. The sheriff has said he doesn't see any problems with housing inmates and detainees in tents and often points out that some members of the U.S. military live in tents.
The protesters, voicing their compassion for the inmates chanted, "We are with you," in hopes that inmates could hear them. Most protesters held candles and wore yellow T-shirts that read "Standing on the side of love," a slogan of the Unitarian Universalist Association, which was holding its annual convention in Phoenix this weekend, to support those Arpaio holds in these deplorable conditions. The rally was the latest effort by the association to promote social justice. The Unitarians organized the rally along with the immigrant rights group Puente Arizona. Both groups stood together in solidarity.
They also gathered to protest the racial profiling bill sb1070 which the Republican Supreme Court is currently reviewing. "We wanted to stand in solidarity with the immigration groups," the groups said. "We just wanted to be there to have a big presence and say this is wrong."