Feathered Bastard

MCSA Leader Raquel Teran Served with Bogus Summons by Sheriff's Deputies

MCSA lead organizer Raquel Teran: Maricopa County's version of the KGB paid her a little visit today.

Seems like Sheriff Joe's goons at the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office can't go a day without abusing their power, and attempting to intimidate and silence their critics. Following the absurd arrests by sheriff's deputies of four women on Monday who were sitting peacefully in a lobby outside a Board of Supervisors executive meeting, and the arrests of four members of ACORN and MCSA (Maricopa Citizens for Safety and Accountability) for applauding during a public BOS meeting on Wednesday, Maricopa County's version of the old East German Stasi struck again, serving MCSA leader Raquel Teran with a summons for disorderly conduct, which the MCSO alleges took place during this week's Wednesday meeting.

According to Teran and her lawyer Antonio Bustamante, three plainclothes sheriff's deputies appeared at the door of her home around 8:50 a.m. to serve the summons, which Teran only accepted after alerting Bustamante, and having him come to the house. During a rally/press conference that MCSA and ACORN held this afternoon at Cesar Chavez Plaza in downtown Phoenix, Bustamante referred to the deputies not arresting Teran as "the first exercise of some amount of reasonable discretion that's been displayed [by the MCSO] in the whole week."

Bustamante then went on to blast the week's arrests and intimidation tactics, and was joined in doing so by the other community leaders present, such as human rights activist Annie Loyd, Muslim activist Deedra Abboud, former state Senator Alfredo Gutierrez, and lawyer/activist Danny Ortega, who is representing the four persons collared on Wednesday.

"There are two messages we have for the sheriff's office and for the clowns who are conducting this Gestapo type of scenario," Bustamante said. "Number one, Joe, you're gonna lose in court. What you're doing is legally stupid. And secondly, the people are going to exercise their rights. And you're going to find that you cannot arrest the whole community."

Bustamante and the others noted that the sheriff's unwarranted arrests and charges were intended to silence two organizations that have been critical of Arpaio and the MCSO during Board of Supervisors meetings. During these monthly meetings, members of MCSA and more recently of ACORN have denounced the sheriff's office during public comments and demanded that the Supervisors place them on the formal agenda so they may present their concerns about the sheriff's racial profiling tactics, the MCSO's lax response times, and other issues.

Teran is MCSA's lead organizer and a regular fixture at the BOS meetings, but she is not the first MCSA leader to be targeted by the MCSO. MCSA organizer and firebrand Randy Parraz was arrested in late September by sheriff's office thugs as he stood outside a BOS meeting after leaving it. Parraz was collared, placed in chains and led through secret underground tunnels from the BOS meeting hall to the nearby 4th Avenue Jail. Parraz's alleged offense? Trespassing. On public property, mind you.

But Teran insisted the arrests and KGB-style bullying would only make her organization and those sympathetic to it stronger. She observed the obvious hypocrisy in play during the MCSO-policed meetings, where other speakers are allowed to bring dogs to the podium, even serenade the supervisors with song, but only those present who are critical of the BOS and the MCSO are arrested, ordered to leave or otherwise harassed.

"Next time we go to the BOS, we're going to have to wave our hands and ask, `May I go to the restroom?'" said Teran. "It shows the double standard involved. Last time, there was even a guy singing to [BOS Chairman] Kunasek. People clapped for him, and the Supervisors didn't say anything."

Indeed, one speaker named Blue Crowley intoned a b-day ditty to Chariman Kunasek at the Wednesday meeting. He was not arrested. Neither were the people who applauded him.

I'm glad that Teran was not taken into custody today, as this is usually standard operating procedure for the MCSO: Arrest critics on bogus charges that will likely be dropped so they have to spend a day in jail being processed. Seems Teran avoided such treatment, for now. 

But as some of those at the rally today observed, if these police state shenanigans were taking place in any other American city, the national press would be raising bloody hell. (Though, I have observed that the Tribune's Paul Giblin has been double-dipping for the New York Times on the story. Way to go, Paul!) Here, it's like we're behind the Iron Curtain of Maricopa County's borders, wherein the freedoms enjoyed by other American citizens simply do not apply.

For video of activists being arrested by sheriff's office thugs for applauding a speaker, please see this previous FB item.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons