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Joe Arpaio, former Arizona sheriff, to speak at Second Amendment rally in Belchertown

  • FILE - In this July 21, 2016 file photo, Phoenix, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio walks on the stage to speak during the final day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. The sheriff of metropolitan Phoenix has raised close to 10 million in his bid for a seventh term, a stunning collection of campaign riches for a local police race. Much of the money contributed to Arpaio was donated by a devoted base of backers who live outside Arizona. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, file) Paul Sancya

  • JOE ARPAIO ap file photo



@NyssaKruse
Thursday, June 15, 2017

BELCHERTOWN — Joe Arpaio, former sheriff of Arizona’s Maricopa County who has styled himself “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” will be a guest speaker this weekend at a Second Amendment rally in town.

Arpaio, who turns 85 this week, will speak at Belchertown’s 4th Annual Flag Day Second Amendment Rally, which starts at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Swift River Sportsman Club.

Dave Kopacz, organizer of the rally, said Arpaio will probably speak around noon, though the official schedule for the event is still in the works.

Arpaio is a Massachusetts native, born in Springfield. He became nationally known in the last 15 years for his hardline stances on immigration, for battling findings of racial profiling in his sheriff’s department, and for his campaign to prove that President Obama’s birth certificate was forged, which he continued to wage as recently as last fall.

After 24 years in office, Arpaio lost his latest re-election bid in November. His trial in federal court on a criminal contempt charge in connection with racial profiling is pending.

The Belchertown rally will also feature several other speakers, including Jeanette Finicum, the widow of Robert LaVoy Finicum, one of the occupiers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon who was shot and killed during the armed standoff in January 2016.

Kopacz said he sees gun rights and property rights as connected. He believes the issues surrounding federal land use that came to a head in Oregon are similar to issues surrounding land trusts in Massachusetts.

“We want to make sure we connect and parallel that with what is going on here,” he said of the Oregon occupation.

Local Second Amendment activists will speak at the rally, too. Kopacz said both national and local speakers are important for the event.

“I use the national guys to bring in the crowds, and the local guys to put them to work after,” Kopacz said.