Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio will send armed volunteer posses to 60 black churches to provide security in the aftermath of the murder of 9 blacks at a church in Charleston, South Carolina.
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.
Apparently not all the black churches are eager to welcome armed men in their houses of worship. When told of one pastor’s worries on that score, Arpaio said at a press conference, “But I’ll tell you, he’s going to get them whether he likes them or not.”
I think the overwhelming majority of worshippers will be grateful for the security. The shootings in Charleston have shaken the nation and a little reassurance — a gesture of support and concern — from a white sheriff will be appreciated.