More proof in my book that wackos who "open-carry" their firearms are often cowards compensating for their shortfalls in other areas: AR-15 slinger Christopher Broughton.
That's the name of the guy who caused all the hubbub recently by bringing a loaded assault rifle to greet President Barack Obama at his address to the Veterans of Foreign Wars at the Phoenix Convention Center. It was revealed rather quickly that the whole incident was a staged interview, a publicity stunt that successfully put the guy who orchestrated it — libertarian nutjob Ernie Hancock — and his Web site FreedomsPhoenix.com on the news map for about 15 seconds.
But though Broughton, a nerdy, horn-rim-wearing 28-year-old, was badass enough to tote that big gun outside where the Prez was speaking, he was keeping his identity a secret until recently. Indeed, the whole libertarian community was aiding him, referring to him only as Chris or Chris B. in the gun-worshippin' diatribes that hailed him as a hero.
When confronted by the Arizona Republic with his last name, Broughton only reluctantly 'fessed up, saying, aw shucks, he didn't wanna be a celebrity or nothin'. He didn't really want to (echoing the words of Thomas Jefferson) water the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants, as such loonies normally claim.
"I don't want to be Joe the Plumber," he told the Rep. "I don't want to be famous."
But Broughton, who, according to the Federal Elections Commission, once gave moonhowlin' liber-tard-ian Congressman Ron Paul $300 for his presidential run and who listed his profession as "tech mold/apprentice mold maker" (dare to dream!), was singing a slightly different tune during his appearance on conspiracy maven Alex Jones' radio show.
Nah, Broughton wasn't copping to his last name there, either. But he was reveling in the attention from Jones, a man who believes the "global elite" regularly gather at the Bohemian Grove retreat in Northern California to worship Beelzebub or some other occult deity, a man who believes the swine flu vaccine is poison meant for the masses, and who has been a huge supporter of the insanity that 9/11 was an inside job by the George W. Bush administration.
"He's quite a hero to the 2nd Amendment," gushed the paranoid lip-flapper about "Chris."
Broughton advised Jones he was more an "anarchist" than a libertarian and that he was a follower of Tempe Pastor Steven Anderson, the Baptist preacher known for his weird run-ins with the U.S. Border Patrol, the most famous of which got his car window busted into and him Tasered.
The interview was full of exchanges like this one, punctuated by ads Jones does for different survivalist products:
"Fundamentally, we need to all be armed," opined Jones.
"If you're a good, honest person," seconded Broughton, "wouldn't you want to be armed?"
But Broughton's most interesting comments came in response to a caller, Jake in Texas, who suggested that Chris should have told a woman at the Obama event — who had criticized the militaristic accoutrement slung over his shoulder — that he was there to protect the U.S. chief executive.
"You should have said," offered Jake, sarcastically, "'We're actually here to defend the president against assassination from these crazed healthcare maniacs who're just finding what's going on.'"
"To be honest with you," snickered Broughton in reply, "I definitely wasn't there to do that."
Would Broughton and Ernie Hancock and Alex Jones applaud if someone went Lee Harvey Oswald on President Obama. I'm guessing they would as long as they weren't implicated in any way.
The nation is slouching ever closer to a really ugly bout of violence cheered on by gun crazies and self-described "patriots." Remember back in the day when it was considered bad manners — no matter if you hated the guy or not — to wish ill on the president?
Man, how far we've regressed.
LIARS AND LAWYERS
It must be great to be an MCSO deputy. You get to arrest somebody who opposes your boss, Sheriff Joe Arpaio. You get to blow off subpoenas from his attorney and drag out the legal process on the taxpayers' dime. Then, if an angry judge dismisses the case against your target, you can get the county attorney to appeal.
This is apparently what happened in the case of Orlando Arenas, a 28-year-old pro-immigrant community activist who works with various human-rights organizations in town, such as Salvador Reza's Puente. Arenas was near Tent City in February when Arpaio did his infamous "200 Mexican March," segregating Mexican nationals in custody by parading them past TV cameras, all for the greater glory of Arpaio.
Arenas was already well known to Joe's flunkies for his nearly daily presence outside the Wells Fargo Building, where the MCSO keeps two floors of pricey, executive offices and where Puente has kept up a sign-waving, drum-banging protest of the sheriff for about a year now. The MCSO's arrest report for Arenas notes that Deputy Lindsey Smith, who works on the 19th floor of the Wells Fargo Building as part of the sheriff's media staff (or at least used to; she may do something else up there now), told the arresting officers that Arenas, who was quietly filming the event with a video camera, needed to go.
"Deputy Smith advised that she had seen [Arenas] filming at recent immigrations protests during Sheriff's Office saturation patrols," reads the report.
Arenas was asked to depart county property and dutifully did, catching a ride with another activist. Unfortunately, the driver of the car drove back onto county property and parked near Tent City. Arenas immediately left the vehicle and began walking off the property. That's when he was arrested.
Never mind that Arenas was trying to exit. Two MCSO deputies collared him before he could leave, kinda like the MCSO did to ACLU legal director Dan Pochoda in 2007 at Pruitt's Home Furnishings, where they had to run after Pochoda to "trespass" him before he could get in his car and drive off.
In fact, I happened to be covering Arpaio's disgusting 200 Mexican March and I saw Arenas getting detained. If the deputies had waited less than five minutes, he would have been off the county property. Arenas ended up spending a day in the Fourth Avenue Jail being booked and processed before he was released on a $150 bond.
Fast-forward to May, when Arenas' lawyer, Christopher Dupont, after trying unsuccessfully to get Lindsey Smith and another deputy involved to respond to subpoenas ordering them to appear for depositions, filed a motion asking Justice of the Peace Armando Gandarilla to impose sanctions on the MCSO for not cooperating.
Dupont was accusing the deputies involved of ignoring court orders, a big no-no, and he wanted Gandarilla to dismiss the case with prejudice (meaning the county attorney could not re-file the charges) and to award him attorney fees paid by the MCSO as further punishment.
On July 28, there was a hearing before JP Gandarilla to resolve the matter. None other than MCSO Deputy Chief Jack MacIntyre appeared as a witness for the prosecution, as well as Deputy Lindsey Smith, and Deputy D. Sanchez, one of the arresting officers.
Dupont did a very wise thing. He asked Gandarilla to have the witnesses sit outside the courtroom and testify separately so that they could not tailor their testimony based on what the others said on the stand. Gandarilla so ordered, and MacIntyre was the first at bat.
Why was MacIntyre there? See, Smith had been subpoenaed, and when the MCSO gets a subpoena (as it must get many a day) it goes through internal processing and is delivered to the person subpoenaed — in this case, Smith. It seems someone faxed Smith the subpoena. She claimed she didn't know how to handle it, and so she asked MacIntyre, who is a lawyer and her superior, what to do. What MacIntyre then did depends on whom you ask, Smith or MacIntyre.
"My best memory of it was, she got a fax," MacIntyre said under oath, adding later, "Then I suggested to Lindsey that she try and contact the prosecutors office [about it]."
"To your knowledge," asked Deputy County Attorney Christine Trusken," did you ever advise [Smith] to ignore a court order?"
"I never advised anybody to ignore a court order," answered MacIntyre, who also claimed that he was unaware of who the defendant was in the case.
Smith, MacIntyre's subordinate, had an entirely different account. She said she asked MacIntyre about it, and he told her not to go to the court-appointed deposition. She also told Trusken that she gave MacIntyre "some history on the defendant." In other words, according to Smith, MacIntyre knew this was a case involving an anti-Joe activist.
"And I was directed not to go," said Smith.
"You were told not to go?" wondered Trusken.
"Right," replied Smith.
Again, Trusken: "And that was by MacIntyre?"
"Right," affirmed Smith.
Remember, Trusken's on the side of Smith and MacIntyre, not Arenas. Maybe she should have had the pair get their stories straight before they hopped on the stand within minutes of each other.
Under questioning from Dupont, Smith was petulant, childish. She had to twice be admonished by Gandarilla not to raise her voice and to answer Dupont's queries. Smith ultimately admitted that she had no idea where she had put the faxed subpoena. It could be in the trash or on her desk under some files — she didn't know.
Both Smith and, unbelievably, MacIntyre — who testified that he's been licensed to practice law in the state of Arizona for decades — said they didn't know the document in question, the one faxed internally to Smith, was a court order. MacIntyre also testified, rather uncomfortably, that he didn't know how subpoenas were served at the MCSO's offices.
Incensed, Dupont demanded that Gandarilla dismiss the case, accusing MacIntyre and Smith of being, ahem, less than honest.
"[They think] they're above the law," argued Dupont. "And when they get caught, they're willing to come here and lie about it."
Trusken pleaded with Gandarilla to not dismiss the whole case because of what she insisted was a violation of the discovery rules. But Gandarilla agreed with Dupont, stating that he believed the conflict in Smith and MacIntyre's testimony "poisoned" the case.
"No way should this case be heard," Gandarilla replied to the prosecutor. "I want the appropriate sanctions. I want defense counsel to submit the cost of your services. And the sheriff's department will pay. That's my judgment."
So far, Dupont says he has not submitted any documents asking for legal fees. However, the county attorney has, according to Gandarilla's office, appealed the case to Superior Court. What, so Smith and MacIntyre can dissemble some more about it?
This stupid bit of retaliation against a minor foe of the sheriff snowballed to the point that two MCSO deputies — at least one of whom should know better — ended up contradicting each other and revealing the contempt with which they view the legal system.
And all for a bogus trespassing case.
Pedro Ultreras' brutal, uncompromising film 7 Soles (7 Suns), which depicts the plight of a group of migrants crossing the Sonoran Desert is a must-see for all Americans who want to understand the sheer horror some immigrants are willing to endure to come to this country.
In it, director Ultreras, a former reporter for Telemundo and Univision, weaves together true-life tales of migrants trying to make it to the relative safety of a Phoenix drop-house. I saw the film's Phoenix première the other day. The theater was so packed that I and others had to sit on the floor.
Often, depictions of the plight of migrants are melodramatic and one-sided, but 7 Soles was neither. In the film, human smugglers (coyotes), as depicted by Gustavo Sánchez Parra and Phoenix's Luis Avila, are the personifications of thuggishness, selfishness, and criminality. Throughout the film, there are murders, rapes, people left to die in the desert and very little redemption.
If you know Luis Avila, recognizable because of his activism locally and his theater work here (he's the director of the play The Tears of Lives, which I blogged about recently), you may be shocked by his portrayal of the coyote Gavilan. Avila was heavier when the film was shot. His success at making you believe he's capable of numerous, heinous acts is a tribute to his acting chops.
The plot involves Parra's coyote character, Negro, and Avila's character, Gavilan, transporting a group of 15 men, women, and children across the border. Problem is, their route is being closely watched by the U.S. Border Patrol, so the coyotes have to take a more scenic path, so to speak, and that's when the suffering kicks in full blast. If the sun and the scorpions don't get you, dehydration, lack of food and medicine, or violent confrontations with and between the human smugglers, just might.
I should also mention the moving performance of Mexican actress Evangelina Sosa, who portrays a woman crossing with her two small children. Sosa ends up appealing to what little good there is in Negro, though how successful she is, you'll have to find out for yourselves.
I don't want to give away too much, but the drama definitely keeps you on the edge of your seat. Although it's been playing for four months in Mexico, Ultreras explained in a Q&A after the screening that U.S. distribution's been difficult to obtain because the film's in Spanish with English subtitles, and it's hardly the sort of feel-good fare many Americans prefer.
That's too bad, because I'm certain this movie could find a wider audience, particularly in Arizona, because much of the film was shot in the desert and in Phoenix, where 100 extras were used in a drop-house scene.
The première and a subsequent screening were benefits for No More Deaths/No Mas Muertes. Currently, the film has no regular engagement in the United States, but there will be another screening at 6:30 p.m. September 3 at Harkins Arizona Mills to benefit the Macehualli Day Labor Center. Admission will be $10, and Ultreras will be there for a Q&A afterwards.
Although Ultreras is looking to show the film elsewhere in the Phoenix area, he has no guarantees, so I urge everyone with an interest in the subject, or just in seeing a gripping piece of filmmaking, to check it out.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.