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Mayor will seek spotlight on Arpaio’s tactics

Arpaio: ‘I don’t need him to be my press agent’

WASHINGTON – Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon escalated his feud with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio on Tuesday, saying he intends to invite the national media to the Valley and observe the sheriff’s crackdown on illegal immigration.

Criticizing the sweeps as heavy-handed and abusive, Gordon said he intends to call a news conference at the National Press Club here in September.

He said he’d like to see a media mobilization comparable to the effort of the dozens of reporters who streamed to Arizona from around the country following the 1976 murder of Arizona Republic investigative reporter Don Bolles.

Their effort, which became known as the Arizona Project, produced extensive reporting on organized crime in the state.

“I’m going to say, ‘Come like you did for Don Bolles; come to Phoenix and stop this madness,’ ” said Gordon, who was in town on city business. “Let’s turn the eyes of the nation on this.”

Gordon wants to focus attention on the sheriff department’s sweeps, in which deputies check vehicles and pedestrians in a search for illegal immigrants. The measures have been widely criticized as a form of racial profiling.

“He (Arpaio) has become the false messiah,” Gordon said. “But when the light is shined on him, people will see that he isn’t helping to fight illegal immigration, and he’s just making the situation worse. You’ve got an individual with a badge and a gun who’s breaking the law and abusing his authority.”

Arpaio fired back in a telephone interview from Phoenix.

“He doesn’t have to call (on the media), because they’re here every day,” Arpaio said. “I’ve been on 3,000 national shows as sheriff. I had two different Dutch reporters yesterday. They come all the time. . . . I don’t need him to be my press agent.”

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