Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s tenure was marked by aggressive, discriminatory policies targeting migrants and their families in Phoenix, Arizona. In 2017, Donald Trump pardoned him on a count of criminal contempt of federal court associated with his unrelenting pursuit of racial and ethnic profiling as a law enforcement policy.
Yet he was warm and friendly to a certain group in a recent address he gave over “celebrity” video app service Cameo. In the video, Arpaio kindly begins, “Hey, good luck organizing the Arizona Furry convention.” “Which is for animal lovers,” he explains. Well, yes, kind of!
Did Arpaio know that Furries are not just animal lovers per se, but people who get together and dress up in elaborate full-body costumes as hyper-anthropomorphized animals, with fully realized, humanlike animal identities? Unclear. In his Cameo, which cost $30.99, Arpaio pronounced furry like “fury,” indicating he might not have known what he was talking about. Though he did go on to say what his furry identity would be: “As far as what animal I would like to be,” Arpaio mused, “I’m kind of partial to dogs.”
It is also unknown whether or not Arpaio understands the concept of “yiffing,” the term for sexual activity among furries. According to AZ Central, Arpaio’s Cameo account showed the video was requested by a user named “Sir Yiffs a Lot.” The outlet was able to track down the person who paid for the clip, but he declined to speak on the record. Arpaio himself did not comment on Sir Yiffs a Lot’s username specifically.
He did tell AZ Central that he agreed to the Cameo request because he’s “a big animal lover,” but “was unfamiliar with the annual convention or furry community.” He notably did not denounce the community or retract his endorsement of the convention.
The community’s feelings about Arpaio, whether the request was a prank, or if it actually even came from someone associated with a true furry convention in Arizona is also unclear. The latest post on a Twitter account billing itself as that of the Arizona Fur Convention says only that this year’s convention is postponed until 2021. A notable furry named Rhubarb the Bear wrote, “Having been a special guest of @AZFurCon, last year, I find it hard to believe that any of the event organizers would want any association with this guy.” Another furry named Nik Wolfe replied that “it looks to be an independent individual playing a joke rather than anyone involved in the con.”