Hollywood action star Steven Seagal has a few choice words for critics of his latest role.
On Saturday, the actor and martial arts expert guided members of Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s volunteer posse through a simulated school shooting. Members of the volunteer posse, some of them armed, began patrolling areas surrounding schools in Arizona’s most populous county, Maricopa, which includes Phoenix, in January.
Seagal’s involvement was called a “mockery” by an Arizona state legislator, while a group of protesters also voiced their concern over Arpaio’s school posse protection plan.
“Anybody who has criticized me or the sheriff for standing up to help the children, in my opinion, is an embarrassment to the human race,” Seagal told reporters on Saturday.
Two dozen high school students volunteered to participate in the simulation Saturday, while SWAT deputies posed as the shooters.
In one scenario, which was allowed to be filmed, students hid under cafeteria tables while under siege by a gunman, who was then taken down by volunteer posse members.
“I want everybody to know that we are going to be around those schools and if you do something, we will be armed and we are going into the schools to save our kids,” Arpaio said on Saturday.
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The volunteer posse, which is nearly 3,500 members strong, has been used to patrol shopping malls during the holiday season, scope out undocumented immigrants, and investigate President Obama’s birth certificate.
Seagal occasionally worked as a deputy for the Jefferson Parish sheriff in Louisiana and had a reality show “Steven Seagal: Lawman.”
Arpaio, the self-styled “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” began sending armed posse members to patrol schools in January, following the Newtown, Conn., elementary school massacre and a more local threat that resulted in the Dec. 20 arrest of a 16-year-old student at Red Mountain High School in Mesa, Ariz., for a plot to bomb the school and shoot the students and faculty.
“We’re not going to wait for all the politicians,” Arpaio said. “Talk, talk, talk.”