Sheriff Joe sending armed volunteers to protect black churches
Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio is sending dozens of armed volunteers to 60 black churches in his county to protect worshippers in the aftermath of the murder of 9 blacks at a church in Charleston, SC.
He said the Rev. Jarrett Maupin, who describes himself as a Progressive Baptist preacher and civil-rights campaigner on his Facebook page, asked him to provide the protection because he was worried about problems with white supremacists in the area.
"I am the elected sheriff of this county. He asked me to help, and I'm going to help," Arpaio said Friday. Maupin said he wasn't aware of any specific threats against churches within the county, the largest in Arizona, but he added that places of worship with black congregations often get hate mail. "We do have a fear, a very real worry, that the incidents that occurred in Charleston can happen here in Phoenix," Maupin said.
More than two years ago, Arpaio sent hundreds of posse volunteers to provide security outside of school grounds in wake of a shooting that left 26 people dead at a Connecticut elementary school.
A pastor in the Phoenix area expressed concern about armed men in or around his church. Arpaio said, "But I'll tell you, he's going to get them whether he likes them or not."
You would think that most worshippers today are grateful for the protection. Arpaio's gesture should ease some concerns in these unsettling times and the fact that it's coming from a white law enforcement officer is significant.