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Sign of the times

Sign of the times

Sheriff Paul Babeu calls it an offensive billboard. The creator calls it a piece of art meant to spur debate.

Either way, the billboard-sized sign that sits on private land outside the U.S. Post Office in Oracle has ignited a firestorm for the Pinal County sheriff.

The sign depicts a handsome, dark-skinned family, which implies they are Hispanic when placed next to a quote attributed to Babeu, who has been a vocal and highly visible advocate of SB1070 and securing the U.S. border with Mexico.

The quote states: “This is our most serious public safety issue and national security threat.”

Babeu said his quote was taken out of context when placed next to the image. It was originally meant to highlight what he believes are threats of drug cartels and human smugglers who sneak across the border.

The sign, he said, tries to advance President Barack Obama’s assertion that Hispanics involved in such innocuous activity as going for ice cream will be harassed by police for their papers.

“Clearly they’re trying to depict the most innocent image of a Hispanic family,” said Babeu, calling from Longmont, Colo., where he was at a training seminar for sheriffs.

The sign was created by Oracle residents Frank Pierson and his wife, Mary Ellen Kazda and an artist friend, Michael Moore.

Kazda said Sept. 23, the sign has been up for four weeks, and a there are mostly supportive comments in a book that is placed next to the structure.

Babeu spokesman, Tim Gaffney, said the sheriff found out about the sign Sept. 17, when he was meeting with Pinal County Supervisor Pete Rios. Gaffney said the sheriff has since learned of false allegations being made in chain e-mails that Babeu paid for the sign.

Gaffney sent out a press release Sept. 23 dispelling that rumor and making it known Babeu was offended by the sign.

“We are really happy to hear he is distancing himself from the quote and we look forward to a meeting with him so he can clarify his position,” Kazda said.

Babeu said he consulted with a lawyer because the sign doesn’t represent his values or the values of the Sheriff’s Office, but acknowledged that the Oracle couple has a First Amendment right to display it.

“There’s not a lot I can do or would do,” Babeu said.
Kazda said the family on the sign came from a photo in the public domain and she doesn’t know them or their nationality or ethnicity.

“They’re certainly not Anglo and not Asian, they’re brown-skinned,” Kazda said.

She and her husband own the triangle-shaped parcel that is less than an acre, and they have built a ramada on it and opened it up to the public. They bought it in 1979 with a bunch of other investors to protect it from development.

They built a metal structure that includes a roof to cover the giant placard from the weather.

The first sign went up in July and read “Happy Birthday U.S.A.”

A second sign had a photo of the Statue of Liberty and “Nation of Immigrants” posted on it and a third sign read “Viva Grijalva” in reference to Congressman Raul Grijalva, a Tucson Democrat who called for a boycott of the state over SB1070.

- Gary Grado

  1. Stan
    Stan09-24-2010

    Clearly these people are naive religious zealots who do not have a clue about what is coming across our southern border. No doubt, they have been mislead and amble through life as part of the unknowing class, smoking their doobies.

  2. x-ray technician
    x-ray technician09-24-2010

    Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

  3. CAV44
    CAV4409-24-2010

    With friends like these, who needs enemies?

  4. Francis
    Francis09-24-2010

    Senator Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi is part of the Liberal-Democratic fringe, that must be unseated in November, because he has accumulated a bad record on his illegal immigration agenda.. Not just in the Silver state but crosses the whole of America with his undercurrent of financial issues, that outside of the Dream Act, if in power after November he will soak taxpayers for astronomical amounts of money to fund illegal alien amnesty. Harry Reid is a callous being, who is ruthless in forcing through another damaging amnesty, which is full of hidden costs that are not seen until taxpayers are confronted with the billions of dollars to be spent. Next in line is majority Nancy Pelosi and a whole group of politicians are thinking that if they adopt the Dream Act, a path to citizenship or amnesty for everybody who steps from a plane, or runs the flimsy gauntlet called the border fence. Attention–ALL–Nevadans’, you have seen your states serious unemployment, mass home foreclosures, that Sen. Harry Reid is directly accountable.

    In the national arena why has Sen. Reid held back on tax cuts to all Americans, but used his influence to push through the De-Facto Amnesty–called the dream Act? Something I recommend is to judge those elected officials that administer to every individual county, countrywide. Investigate and find out the expenditures for illegal alien support for such locations as San Diego County, California, Broward County, Florida or Clarke County, Nevada? In most localities you will come up against a dead end, because that particular county department of Social services doesn’t keep records, or even the state agency. Other officials will refuse to talk about it, because of the amounts involved that comes out of your pocket. One place that does keep accounting is Los Angeles, California that surprises me is that any records are released at all in LOS ANGELES COUNTY?

    Figures from the Department of Public Social Services show that children of illegal aliens in Los Angeles County collected nearly $22 million in welfare and over $26 million in food stamps in June, according to county Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich. Projected over a 12 month period, this would exceed $575 million. Annually the cost of illegal immigration to Los Angeles County taxpayers exceeds $1 billion dollars which includes $350 million for public safety, $400 million for health care, and $500 million in welfare and food stamps allocations. Twenty-four percent of the county’s total allowance of welfare and food stamp benefits goes directly to U.S.-born children of illegal aliens. That is just one large county in the United States and the expenditures for illegal alien. Ask your families Political Representative the true cost of your counties payments in welfare and other social services–if you can get a foot in the door? Is it no wonder the “Sanctuary State” is on the edge of bankruptcy and needs more taxes to pay for this?

    Old Harry ignored that hundreds of thousands of jobs being served by unscrupulous casinos, the construction industry and all manner of businesses to the illegal alien households–But did delight Union bosses. This man has been fixated on pleasing the illegal alien population that has lowered wages and ruined the benefit packages of US workers. But truly this cannot be blamed on just illegal immigrants, but the greed of a large majority of business owners who hunger for cheap labor. The Tea Party and moderate Conservatives believe that if we can remove the major players in the Liberal-Democratic administration, the bipartisan acceptance–will build the original Border Fences as signed into law by President Bush. Not–ONE fence, But Two, spreads its security across the region separating Mexico from the US. Sen. Harry Reid, two Texas Republicans Kay Bailey Hutchinson, John Cornyn administered the coup-de-Grace on the 2006 Secure Fence Act and nearly E-Verify.

    That second 15 foot chain-link fence similar to a prison outside fence was to be wrapped with razor wire, from one end of America to the other. If the–ORIGINAL–border fence plans had been followed, it’s unlikely Governor Brewer would not be going to court, to protect the Arizona taxpayers. A small town called Oracle, Arizona is being ostracized, because a small controversial sign sitting on some private land. Another point is GOP, Republican–Tea Party candidate Sharron Angle as a new entrant to the halls of power can be shaped by public opinion, unlike Reid. We must remember that if we do not stop any form of Amnesty now, the teeming millions who want here will never stop, especially when America offers the rest of the world unlimited public benefits. We have observe this from the unlimited resources given to the babies receiving instant citizenship, starting with free pre-natal health care and then education for every child thereafter they give birth too.

    Sen. Harry Reid must be forcibly retired, with–ALL INCUMBENTS–driven out by lack of votes. You can pursue your Senator or Congressman at the Washington switchboard at 202-224-3121We must wipe the slate clean and remove the corrupted political debris from every state, of–ALL–elected officials which includes Governors and Mayors. Senator Harry Reid must not get any second chance of passing the Dream act, because it is a farce and one big lie. Its AMNESTY! This November we must be on our guard, vigilant against illegal aliens violating our voting federal laws, specifically in California and Nevada, but also every other state. Absentee ballot voting is specifically vulnerable in an “honor System” that doesn’t work anymore.

    No copyright. Copy, Paste and distribute freely.

  5. DoktorPIP
    DoktorPIP10-29-2010

    The possession of unlimited power will make a despot of almost any man. There is a possible Nero in the gentlest human creature that walks.

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