Thousands protest Arpaio's Tent City - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Thousands protest Arpaio's Tent City

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PHOENIX (AP) - Several thousand critics of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio gathered for a rally Saturday night to call for the closure of the sheriff's complex of canvas jail tents.

Organizers say conditions in Arpaio's "Tent City" complex are inhumane.

The sheriff has said he doesn't see any problems with housing inmates in tents and often points out that some members of the U.S. military live in tents.

Arpaio was at the protest and gave a tour of Tent City to a group of protesters and members of the Unitarian Universalist Association, which is holding its annual convention in Phoenix this weekend.

The county's jails were closed to visitors on Saturday in anticipation of the rally.

The rally was held by the immigrant rights group Puente Arizona and the Unitarian Universalist Association.

Arpaio is a national political fixture who built his reputation on jailing inmates in tents during Phoenix's triple-digit summer heat, dressing inmates in pink underwear, selling himself to voters as unceasingly tough on crime and pushing the bounds of how far local police can go to confront illegal immigration.

The U.S. Justice Department has accused the sheriff's office of racially profiling Latinos in its immigration patrols.

The sheriff has said the Justice Department's investigation of his immigration patrols was a politically motivated attack by the Obama administration and denied allegations of systematic discriminatory policing.

The jail complex in west Phoenix was the site of a January 2010 protest that drew 10,000 immigrant rights advocates and was marked by a clash between a small group of protesters and police officers.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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