Note: For the latest on Reza's release, and the prosecutor's admission of no probable cause, please click, here.
Like you needed more evidence of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's police state tactics, civil rights leader Salvador Reza of the group Puente was arrested this afternoon by a contingent of MCSO goons, apparently on Arpaio's direct orders. (Please see update below.)
Reza was in a parking lot across the street from where Arpaio was giving a press conference at an MCSO command post near the Lower Buckeye Jail, according to several witnesses.
Video of Reza's arrest by Barni Qaasim and Pope Enrique of Puente
Eleven protesters blocked the entrance and exit to the driveway as one of Arpaio's anti-immigrant sweeps was resuming.
The demonstrators were arrested by deputies and Arpaio came out to the street to talk to the media. According to Puente's Carlos Garcia, Arpaio gestured in Reza's direction and eight MCSO thugs rushed across the street to nab Reza, who was getting into his car. They cuffed him and hustled him away.
"Sal was out here by his car, he wasn't one of the protesters," Garcia told me at the scene. "As far as we know, he's a political prisoner."
Chris Newman, a lawyer for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, said he was briefly detained by Captain David Letourneau, the head of Arpaio's SWAT detail, but he also witnessed the arrest of Reza.
"I heard someone yell, `Salvador Reza's getting in his car, we gotta go get him,'" said Newman, who had been across 35th Avenue observing the protesters' arrests. "They left across the street, this is while I was being detained. The next thing you know, he was in cuffs being walked across to the jail."
According to Newman, Letourneau told him he was detained because Newman was "interfering with my daily business."
As I reported earlier today, Reza was released Thursday night from Fourth Avenue Jail. This, after being arrested for participating in non-violent civil disobedience that morning outside the same facility.
Lawyer Antonio Bustamante, who also saw Reza being taken away, said a deputy told one bystander that Reza had violated a court order, but Bustamante said that's not the case.
"I represented him last night, and there's no court order that I'm aware of that he violated by being there," said Bustamante.
Bustamante stated that the release ordered Reza not commit a crime, but he was not committing any crime.
"It's another bad arrest," observed Bustamante. "They get their jollies doing this kind of thing."
Indeed they do. As we all know from experience, Arpaio's enemies are routinely harassed, investigated and arrested by the MCSO. And Reza has been one of Arpaio's most persistent critics.
If there's any silver lining to this outrageousness, it's that Reza will likely have one hell of a lawsuit on his hands for false arrest and the violation of his civil rights. Television journos were on hand, so there will be video.
Update and Correction: After reviewing other video provided by Puente, it looks like Arpaio may have been unaware of why Reza was arrested. One of his top aides, Brian Sands tells him it's because Reza violated the terms of his release. Reza's lawyer Antonio Bustamante obviously disputes that.
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