Also known as the most controversial sheriff in America, Arpaio might now also qualify as the most frustrated sheriff in America. Some of the letters are pretty much perfectly typed. Others exhibit almost adult-quality penmanship but the words, all in Spanish, allegedly from students from San Francisco's James Lick Middle School sent to the sheriff of Maricopa County Arizona Joe Arpaio, were designed to hurt.
"Then they said I had concentration camps with my tent city that I put up 20 years ago. Then, I'm a racist and I break up families, that I just go after brown people," Arpaio said.
Arpaio has a national reputation for his aggressive enforcement of illegal immigration laws. He says he figured that since he received the letters just a few days ago and was going to be in San Francisco anyway, he offered to go to Lick Middle and talk to the students, or at least talk to the teachers or principal.
"I'm concerned about parents giving the wrong message to their kids, and even teachers in schools because this class had to be controlled by a teacher," he said.
However, Arpaio says Friday's meeting was suddenly canceled Thursday by Lick Middle school officials. He doesn't know why, but he never believed the letters were really from the children. He believes it was an orchestrated effort by a teacher or teachers, to turn children against him.
Arpaio doesn't mind being known as the sheriff who makes inmates wear pink underwear, eat green baloney, and work on chain gangs, but he doesn't want the kids to think of him for something he never did.
The San Francisco Unified School District said that the problem Friday was scheduling. They say they would like Sheriff Arpaio to write them a letter they could read to the students in class. For his part, Arpaio said he was available to meet with teachers or the principal Friday anytime up until midnight.