Photos: Protesters ask Sheriff Arpaio for trips to Hawaii


by Kristine Harrington and Mike Gertzman

Video report by Kristine Harrington

Posted on May 24, 2012 at 12:53 PM

Updated Thursday, May 24 at 6:01 PM

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PHOENIX -- On Thursday afternoon, protesters made their way to the lobby outside Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office on the 19th floor of the Wells Fargo building in downtown Phoenix, at First Avenue and Washington Street.

The protest, organized by Citizens for a Better Arizona, was staged to ask Arpaio for taxpayer funded trips to Hawaii.

About a dozen protesters dressed in Hawaiian outfits wanted to voice their opposition to Arpaio's recent decision to send a deputy from his Cold Case Posse to Hawaii as part his investigation into whether President Barack Obama's birth certificate is legitimate.

"Sheriff Arpaio should be focused on public safety. The whole birther thing that's not his jurisdiction," said Randy Parraz with Citizens for a Better Arizona.  "If he was pursuing a child molester, right on! Or a murderer, right on! Or a smuggler, right on! But this is not the case and this issue does not impact public safety in Maricopa County."

The protesters laid beach towels on the ground in the lobby outside Arpaio's office and were singing Hawaiian songs. They were wearing grass skirts, leis and even carrying surf boards.

One protester was holding a sign that read, "Have taxpayer's money. Will travel."

Employees from the sheriff's office told the protesters they need to leave because they were blocking the path to the elevators and creating a fire hazard.

Arpaio said he would meet privately with the protest organizer, Randy Parraz, who is the co-founder and president of Citizens for a Better Arizona.

Parraz refused that offer and demanded Arpaio meet with the entire group with the media and cameras present.

In the end, the two sides could not agree on the terms of a meeting and the protesters left the building.

"I think it's very important to see if someone forged these documents pertaining to the President," Sheriff Arpaio told 3TV.

Arpaio said the posse volunteer and deputy have been in Hawaii since Saturday and are working 12 to 14 hour days.

"I'm sure they are not out there swimming in the ocean. They are out there working and they will be there as long as it takes to get to the bottom of this investigation," Arpaio added.