One of the biggest national stories from the last couple of days was Latinos in Nevada and Florida coming out to vote early with a vengeance. That, apparently, was only the beginning. Students at Maryvale and North High Schools in Phoenix, Ariz., have walked out of class to canvass local neighborhoods to get out the vote against Donald Trump and Joe Arpaio, the Maricopa County Sheriff who has spent his entire political career violating the civil rights of Latinos in Arizona. (So much so that he was recently indicted for criminal contempt after refusing to follow the law.)
This is a developing story and we’ll be updating accordingly, but this is yet another example of Latinos flexing their might and letting our presence known.
In 2003, the story of Aron Ralston a hiker who became trapped by a boulder in an isolated canyon located in Utah for 127 hours went viral. Well, at least whatever form of viral was popular in the early aughts. Anyway, the story about his experience was ultimately reimagined as a biographical film starring James Franco and directed by Danny Boyle.
Now, a similar story about an Arizona man trapped in a canyon for 24 hours is making the rounds. And we can’t help but wonder if it will also get the Hollywood treatment. Mostly because his story of survival is pretty incredible.
Jacob Velarde was hiking on a solo trail last Tuesday when he fell almost 70 feet into a canyon.
Velarde had been hiking along the Indian Maiden Falls trail when the area he was hiking on fell apart beneath him. The 24-year-old plummeted seven stories below the surface and found himself stranded in the canyon with a broken nose, broken ankle, multiple gashes, as well as severe bruises. He also sustained a skull fracture and orbital fracture.
Velarde laid in the canyon by himself for all of those hours until a family that was also on a hike discovered and rescued him.
Speaking about the incident Velarde told People, “Right now, I just feel blessed. In all honesty, I shouldn’t have been able to survive a fall like that.”
Speaking to NBC affiliate KPNX, Velarde explained that he is an experienced hiker who goes on hikes about once a month. Initially, Velarde had set out to go on a 12-mile overnight trip with his brother but after seeing the rocky and steep terrain of the hike within the first mile of the trail his brother backed out.
Determined to make the hike, Velarde left his brother with the car keys and decided to meet up with him the next day.
The next morning, at around 8 a.m., Velarde said he made a wrong turn in an area of the trail that ultimately caved in when he walked across it.
Speaking with People, Velarde said that didn’t remember much when the fall occurred because “it just happened so fast.”
“Doctors said I’m lucky that I’m not more injured,” Velarde wrote in a post to his Facebook page. Velarde explained that his ability to survive was likely all thanks to his past experiences as a Boy Scout and a set of EMT lessons he took in college.
“It was a bit scary and painful, but it was all about keeping my injuries from getting worse and staying hydrated,” he told People. “With the knowledge, I had from both of those, I knew that I’d be able to take care of myself. I figured that if I was able to survive the fall, I knew I’d survive the rest.”
Velarde underlined that he felt confident that he would be found because his brother was expecting him. “My brother knew where I was and was expecting me the next day by noon,” he said. “He would have called for help to save me.”
Fortunately, Velarde didn’t have to wait for his brother. The family of hikers found him the next morning. “I honestly thought I was imagining them, but I was extremely excited,” Velarde explained. Soon after the family called for help, first responders airlifted Velarde to a nearby hospital.
“I just want to make sure everyone knows the risks and that it’s better just playing it safe on a hike,” Velarde explained of his reason for sharing his story. “I probably won’t be doing any solo hikes soon, but eventually, I will be doing it again. I’ll just be more prepared and safe [next time.]”
America’s ‘toughest sheriff’ and blatantly racist law enforcement officials has been defeated in race for sheriff. But what’s shocking is just how close the race was for a man who was arrested and convicted of racially profiling Latinos only to then be pardoned by Trump.
And it appeared that Arpaio had zero remorse for his controversial and damaging policies. In the run up to the election, he vowed to continue his controversial policing tactics with policies that included housing county jail inmates in tents and regular immigration sweeps.
Running to get back his old job, Joe Arpaio has lost his primary bid for Maricopa County Sheriff.
America’s self-confessed “toughest sheriff”, Joe Arpaio, was narrowly defeated in his bid to win back the sheriff’s post in metro Phoenix that he held for 24 years before being voted out in 2016 amid voter frustrations over his taxpayer-funded legal bills, blatant racism, his penchant for self-promotion and a defiant streak that led to his now-pardoned criminal conviction.
In the latest count from Tuesday’s primary, announced on Friday, Arpaio lost the primary to his long time aide, Jerry Sheridan. Mr. Sheridan had secured about 37 percent of the vote in a three-way race, compared to Mr. Arpaio’s 36 percent — a difference of 6,280 votes out of more than 420,000 cast, with only 2,385 ballots remaining to be counted.
For Mr. Arpaio, 88, the loss on Tuesday was his third electoral defeat in four years. After losing his 2016 re-election bid, he suffered a resounding loss in a three-way Republican primary for a U.S. Senate seat in 2018.
Mr. Arpaio said in an interview on Friday that this year’s race was his last run for public office, adding that his age and record as sheriff were working against him.
“They were tired of me and tired of my office,” he said.
So who is the Republican who won the primary?
Voters instead backed Jerry Sheridan, Arpaio’s former chief deputy, who promised to revive many of the sheriff’s racist and anti-immigrant policies but without the showmanship.
In November’s general election, Sheridan will face current Sheriff Paul Penzone, the Democrat who beat Arpaio four years ago. And most political observers say Penzone is the favorite in the general election.
His campaign put out a statement after Arpaio’s defeat.
“With the primary race for Maricopa County Sheriff officially concluding tonight, Arizona Democrats reaffirm our commitment to protecting the Latino community from the likes of Joe Arpaio’s former number two, Jerry Sheridan, who was found in contempt of court and will double down on Arpaio’s disturbing legacy that embarrassed our state and cost taxpayers millions of dollars,” said Matt Grodsky, spokesman for the Arizona Democratic Party.
“Arizona’s largest county is better off under the leadership of Sheriff Penzone, a leader with a legacy of accountability, committed to building community trust,” he added. “We know voters will stick with him this November.”
Arpaio had long harassed Latinos and made life a living hell in Arizona for migrant communities.
Arpaio rose to national prominence thanks to his blatantly racist, anti-immigrant, and illegal policies as ‘America’s toughest sheriff.’ During his tenure, he housed inmates in tents, forced them to wear pink underwear and brought back chain gangs. His department conducted sweeps of undocumented immigrants in Hispanic communities and detained Spanish-speakers under suspicion of being in the country irregularly.
Then in 2011, Arpaio was convicted of deliberately violating an injunction halting his practice of detaining migrants who are not suspected of having committed a state crime. Only federal officers have jurisdiction over immigration. He faced six months in jail but was benefited by President Donald Trump’s first presidential pardon.
This year’s primary by Arpaio exploited racial tensions and pushed a tough-on-crime message amid a nationwide movement to stop police abuses against people of color. His rebuke from Republican voters could be an ominous sign for the president, who is trailing Biden in the polls in Arizona.
Arpaio is a close ally of Trump’s and was one of his first supporters in 2015, and his fall from grace mirrors the struggle that the president faces among suburban Republican voters in Arizona, a traditionally conservative state that is seen as up for grabs in this year’s presidential election.