According to the various sources, it seems there were at least 2000 if not maybe even 5000 people at the Protest against Arpaio and 287(g). Although I knew it would be big (100 people made it out to an Arpaio protest with less than one day's notice on 5/12/08), i didn't realize it would be quite this big. What i was most surprised about, was how much it was similar to the big immigrants' rights marches. It was smaller than those mainly because it was organized differently and i imagine that since this was a protest against a police official, so it was more specific, and there was a little bit more risk involved- at least that could be the perception, fortunately not the reality.
I'd be interested to learn how many people were from out of town, as well as how many people came out because they heard Zach de la Rocha would be there (and he was).
While we can be impressed with the turn-out, we mustn't forget all the efforts that led up to this. I personally don't know to what extent the National Day Labor Organizing group was involved, but i know the idea came out of Puente. Puente has been organizing the protests at the Wells Fargo bank branches, specifically the tower that Arpaio rents a floor in for an exorbitant amount of money. For a while, they were out there for about two hours every weekday. They've also brought out the fact that Wells Fargo has ties to the Geo group, formerly or also known as Wackenhut, which runs and profits from some of the immigrant detention centers, particularly in the northwest, where people have been protesting Wells Fargo as well.
Maricopa Citizens for Safety and Accountability has also been essentially protesting Arpaio through different means, primarily at the County Board of Supervisors meetings, since this board decides Arpaio's funding. They have gotten rather large turn-outs for several of their demonstrations.
Last year there were several protests against Arpaio at his book signings and other public engagements. And either he stopped his public engagements or people stopped keeping track of them. Most of these protests are detailed in this blog post. One of the protests includes the May 12 protest at the Italian American Club where about 100 people showed up in less than 24 hours notice.
The New Times' The Bird has been documenting these events as well as the actions of Arpaio, so there is something to be said for his contribution to the local anti-Arpaio sentiment and participation.
Of course Arpaio himself is the reason people have showed up to these protests. His sweeps and especially the parading of immigrant inmates between tent city camps have really inspired anger in the masses. People showed to protest and/or document these incidents as well.
I'm sure there are some things i'm forgetting. But i think it's important to recognize the work that has been done leading up to an event as large as this.
It'll be interesting to see what happens. I discussed in my last post that i don't expect anything positive out of the federal government. Federal Government will not be Maricopa County's Savior.