Feathered Bastard

Al Sharpton To Protest SB 1070 Wednesday, Phil Gordon Can't Sue for City Over Immigration Law, and State Senator Chuck Gray Follows White Power Idgits on Twitter

There will be at least one big gun in Phoenix this Wednesday to protest Arizona's new "papers please" legislation, though no one's yet sure if there will be a "lethal weapon" in tow as well.

Confirmed for a Wednesday appearance at Phoenix's Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church is the Rev. Al Sharpton. He's been to Phoenix before to tangle with Sheriff Joe Arpaio -- now known as "America's Biggest Wuss" after announcing that he will not run for Governor of Arizona.

At first organizers were also promising actor Danny Glover for the Wednesday event. Glover's best known for his role as Mel Gibson's partner in the Lethal Weapon film series, but he's also been a tireless activist for many causes.

Now organizers are not sure Glover can make it to Pilgrim Rest, but they think he may be in town to do something anti-SB 1070 related. I'll let you know when/if I hear more.

Sharpton, at least, will take part in a candlelight procession to the state Capitol from Pilgrim Rest. There's a service planned at the church at 6 p.m., and taper-bearing marchers will leave from there after the service.


Phoenix's City Attorney Gary Verburg has informed City Manager David Cavazos that Mayor Phil Gordon cannot sue the state of Arizona over SB 1070, despite Gordon's repeated insistence that he would be doing so.

According to Verburg, the city's charter "does not grant authority to the Mayor to sue on behalf of the city on his own." Verburg continues, "That authority rests solely with the City Council."

You can read Verburg's opinion, here.

Gordon chose not to put the issue to a vote of the City Council, deciding that the city's charter gave him the right to do this on his own. Several city council members had already signaled their opposition to the move, which is probably why Gordon opted not to put it to a vote.

When Shakira was in town last week, the mayor mentioned that he was starting a new group called "Arizonans for Common Sense" that would fund the lawsuit from private sources. One of the first contributors was going to be Arizona Employers for Immigration Reform.

Of course, Gordon can sue as an individual, but the point of the mayor suing on behalf of the city is that the City of Phoenix would have legal standing, and there would be a great deal more weight behind a suit brought on behalf of the City of Phoenix than just an individual.

Hizzoner's heart may be in the right place, but I wish he had gotten an official legal opinion from Verburg first. Interestingly, it was the City Manager who asked for the opinion from Verburg. Gordon's aide Bill Scheel told me last week that Gordon had researched the matter with Verburg, and that Gordon had concluded on his own that he had the ability to sue for the city.

It's not a fatal slip-up, but it's one that could have been easily avoided. Groups like the ACLU and MALDEF have signaled their intentions to sue, and there have already been some less thought-through suits filed, like the one state Rep. Ben Miranda filed on behalf of a Latino church group.

But if the complaint is questionable from jump, as is the case with Miranda's, why bother? Gordon needs to get together with the ACLU, MALDEF and others so that all those wishing to oppose the law in court are on the same page. Apparently other cities are planning to sue, and I'm told Mayor Gordon may sign on to one of their suits as a citizen.

Still, those supporting the law will exploit every flub, even if it's an unintentional one. A smidgen of caution won't kill.


We should consider it a sign of Arizona's new found popularity with all media of all kinds that the Gotham-chic gossip site Gawker.com has been weeding through the Twitter pages of Arizona legislators looking for white supremacists. And -- Shazam! -- the Gawkeroids found some on the Twitter page of Mesa wingnut and state Senator Chuck Gray, one of the sponsors of Arizona's infamous SB 1070.

Seems Gray was following two white supremacists via Twitter, one them former KKK leader Don Black, founder of the neo-Nazi message board Stormfront.org.

Of course, Gray's following around 4,800 other people via Twitter. That's not to belittle Gawker's find, as Gray had to decide to follow Black, which does make you wonder how he came to make that selection.

Gray told Gawker via a spokesperson that he doesn't know how he came to follow Black and some other white power nudnik who calls himself ScarecrowWPWW (the "WPWW" stands for "White Pride World Wide," for those not up on their klan slang). The spokesman said Gray would cease to follow the two swastika-lickers tout de suite, and that he doesn't share their views.

Thing is, in this state, you don't have to don a red-and-black armband to concur with schmucks like these on immigration. Hell, the neo-Nazis and most of the Arizona Republican party are (sadly) on the same page when it comes to wanting to drive all the brown people out of Cactus Country in a spate of SB 1070-empowered ethnic cleansing. 

So Gray following Don Black is perhaps less surprising than Gawker reporting on the matter. If they have the time, they should comb through the Twitter pages of every GOPer in the state, looking for bad apples. Lord knows what they'll find.

Both Sheriff Joe Arpaio and state Senator Russell Pearce have had their own well-publicized dalliances with extremists. Unfortunately, here in Sand Land, such connections are practically par for the political course. 

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons