Day of Outrage: The Supes' Lockdown, MCSA's Walkout, and Guadalupe's Shame
MCSA's Randy Parraz and Raquel Teran address reporters after the BOS lockout.
It was a Magic Mountain-size roller coaster ride at the Board of Supervisors today, with the Maricopa Citizens for Safety and Accountability taking over the meeting from Supervisor and acting Chairman Max Wilson, and walking out when it became obvious that Wilson had given the order to clear the room. The sheriff's deputies who guard the premises then locked down the facility in direct violation of Arizona's open meetings law. Journalists, such as KPNX Channel 12's Jennifer Vogel, were not allowed back into the building once they stepped outside to observe the protesters. And both reporters and average citizens were not allowed in at all after the MCSA walkout.
"MCSA was disrupting the meeting, and they were escorted out," said BOS flack Richard DeUriarte, a former editorial writer for the Arizona Republic. DeUriarte said the lockout was the decision of security, which in this case was provided by the MCSO.
"There was confusion, emotions were running high," DeUriarte stated.
But video of the disruption, provided by the BOS, shows nothing threatening about the demonstration, certainly nothing that would call for a lockdown. The action began almost from the beginning, with MCSA organizers Raquel Teran and Randy Parraz shouting at the supervisors to place MCSA on the agenda for the day, as they have requested previously and presented petitions in support of. On cue, other members of MCSA stood one by one, calling on supervisors by name, asking why MCSA's concerns regarding the sheriff's office were being ignored.
This continued up till the point that Wilson gave the sign to a deputy, who reached out his hand to Parraz's arm. Parraz jerked his arm away, and led his people out as they all sang My Country Tis of Thee in unison while waving little American flags. Dramatic? Certainly. But a reason for the sheriff's thugs to bar the door. Absolutely not.
Later Maricopa County Manager David Smith and Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox spoke with Parraz and Teran inside the supervisors building. When the two MCSA-ers emerged, they vowed to be back for next month's supervisor meeting, whether or not they are allowed on the agenda to discuss the MCSO's abuses of power, wasteful spending, and racial profiling.
"We got a good feeling from the county manager that he wants to work with us," Parraz told reporters. "Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox wants to work with us. It's just a matter of the other four -- Supervisor Brock, Supervisor Stapley, Supervisor Kunasek, and Supervisor Wilson. Are any of those guys going to break ranks with this triangle of corruption from Arpaio down?"
Wilson had been chairing the meeting in the absence of Supervisor Andrew Kunasek, and in his attempts to ignore the protesters, he gave the impression of a sort of childish insouciance. Like the kind I imagine internees at the old folks home have while making potholders for their grandkids.
Following the lockout, the Supervisors took up the item of ending the Town of Guadalupe's contract with the sheriff, and they ultimately voted to do so after hearing from Guadalupe's new Mayor Frankie Montiel, who practically did his StepnFetchit routine, imploring that the contract not be canceled. He argued, incredibly, that Guadalupe was happy with the service the sheriff was providing, and he even spoke in favor of the sheriff's anti-immigrant sweep on April 3.
"It's not broken at this point," claimed Montiel of the town's relationship with the sheriff, adding,"MCSO has done a professional job."
Montiel took over as mayor last week after a power struggle between former Mayor Rebecca Jimenez, and a clique led by Santino and Socorro Bernasconi, longtime residents and activists in the community who have claimed heretofore that they too want the sheriff's office replaced as Guadalupe's law enforcement. Still, Santino Bernasconi spoke at the supervisors meeting in favor of Montiel's plea.
Montiel's groveling met with the approval of the supes, but in the end, it made little impact on the outcome. After a motion for a 60 day negotiating period made by Supervisor Wilcox failed, the board voted 3-1 to terminate Guadalupe's contract per the wishes of Sheriff Arpaio. The town now has 180 days to either come to some agreement with the sheriff, or find another law enforcement agency to take over.
Guadalupe Council member and ex-Mayor Rebecca Jimenez, still defiant.
After the meeting, I ran into former Mayor Rebecca Jimenez, who still sits on the council, in spite of being demoted from her position as mayor after the power shift. Though Montiel has spoken of her defiance of Arpaio on the night of the April 3 sheriff's sweep as being a "black eye" for the town, it was in fact Guadalupe's proudest moment. Jimenez never threatened Arpaio. Quite the contrary. She merely asked him to cease his dragnet that evening. But this simple act caused Arpaio to lose it. He flew into a rage, pointing and spitting at Jimenez, and giving her and the town notice.
If you want to read more about that night, I wrote a cover story about it back in May. Since then, the town's initial triumph in the face of Joe's outrageous police-state tactics has devolved into a morass of pettiness and jealousy, mostly aimed at Jimenez. I detailed this in two follow-ups in The Bird, "Target Guadalupe," and, "Jealous Ones."
"They needed to get Montiel in," Jimenez spoke of the Bernasconi group that engineered Montiel's rise. "And he'll suck up to Arpaio. But I will never suck up to Arpaio. I respect law enforcement, but not at the cost of harassing people, or denying people's civil rights."
Afterwards, I moseyed over to the Wells Fargo bank building downtown, where Arpaio surveys his kingdom from the 19th floor, to catch the very animated protest by Sal Reza's group PUENTE, beefed up as it was from members of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. Look for a report on that soon, with some photos of the day's activities.