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Controversial AZ Sheriff Accepts Award from White Supremacist Group

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Joe Arpaio, the controversial Arizona sheriff has accepted an award from the white supremacist group, known as the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV). This Confederate "heritage group" has many people feeling uncomfortable about their alliances and rumors of racial profiling and white supremacy views.

In October 2011, two officials of the Arizona SCV presented Arpaio this award in his office which he accepted and in return presented his visitors with gifts of autographed posters, photos, and pink underwear. The second receiver of this award went to Paul Babeu, a politically ambitious sheriff who was featured in a John McCain campaign ad in 2008.

The SCV is known as a “heritage organization” that focuses on its history and allegedly “does not promote racism or the reinstatement of the Confederacy.” The goal of the organization is to continue the history and legacy of their heroes so that future generations will understand the Southern Cause. Below three Confederate flags on the SCV’s website is the image of a KKK hood with a red line striking it out. The group denies all affiliations with any groups whose objectives involve promoting hate and discrimination based on race, religion, ethnicity, gender or national origin.

Despite the SCV’s denial of any affiliation with these groups, the Southern Poverty Law Center has identified SCV's ties to extremist activists and “promoting a narrative that overlooks the Confederacy’s sins (especially slavery)”. The SCV counters all allegations as they have previously participated in protests against KKK rallies and focusing on cutting ties with confederate symbolism of hate. Recently though, there has been a shift in leadership from the traditional establishment to a new group of more radical activists focusing on pushing for more controversial ideas.

Anthony Hodges was a former leader of the group and has warned his colleagues that the group is moving “towards a more politically active, secessionist and racist agenda.”  The group is accused of intolerance and ignorance. The SCV has a history of white supremacy that seems to continue to this day according to Edward H. Sebesta, a neo-Confederate movement researcher.

While Arpaio’s spokesperson declined any comments, many are concerned with the Sheriff’s ties with a group that could promote racist, anti-immigrant, and racist ideas. It is important that law enforcement have trustworthy and professional relationships as the community “continues to spotlight Arpaio’s failure to provide equal justice for our diverse community.”

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