Feathered Bastard

Russell Pearce Bans Public from Pressers, Kyrsten Sinema Blasts Move

In an effort to further curtail the rights of citizens to visit the state Senate, Senate President Russell Pearce has issued a dictate that the public will no longer be allowed to attend press conferences held inside the Senate building.

Today, he sent a missive to his fellow Senators, stating in part,

"Due to recent events within the Senate building that directly impacted the safety of the public, Members, and staff, the use of any hearing room for a press conference open to the public is no longer an option...Press conferences that do not involve an invitation to the public may continue to be held within the Senate."

Total bunk. No one's safety has been threatened. This is typical scaremongering by Pearce to rationalize a continued police state mentality in the Senate building, which we might as well now declare the Rogue Republic of Russ.

This latest order concerning press conferences relates to a demonstration led by radio host Carlos Galindo on February 22 during a press conference held by state Senator Kyrsten Sinema. Galindo was ticketed and banned from the Senate. Four other activists were arrested.

Pearce has already prevaricated on this subject, saying Sinema told security she felt threatened. Sinema denies ever having done so.

So what does Sinema think of this latest move by Pearce, using the shouting protesters at her press conference to rationalize a ban on the public at pressers?

"While I was understandably dismayed," she wrote me via text in response to my query, "that a small number of people chose to disrupt my press conference last week, I do not believe that a policy change is needed."

She continued: "I am concerned about security, of course, but I do not believe there is any value in decreasing liberty in order to obtain security. To quote Ben Franklin, `Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.'" 

The most Galindo's people did was shout and chant. I think targeting Sinema over her SB 1225 and treating her as if she's some racist bete noir like Pearce is, well, both delusional and asinine.

That said, using some folks shouting at one press conference to bar the public reeks of overreach. What Pearce is doing is attempting to demonize the pro-immigrant side of the equation as violent, so as to further keep their voices from being heard.

Ironically, there is a violent faction at the state Capitol regularly: The nativist, anti-immigrant haters, who're armed, aggro and as batty as the Carlsbad Caverns. They pull little, third-grade stunts, pushing people, trying to bully them, knowing that as Pals of Pearce they are immune from being hassled by the Capitol Police, DPS or other security present.

Basically, the POPs are thugs, there to intimidate the brown folk, and keep them away.

Just as Pearce wants to wipe out Arizona's Hispanic population, he's got his own little brand of ethnic cleansing going on at the Capitol. Remember those famous words from the introduction to SB 1070? Its stated goal is,"attrition through enforcement."

Hell, if Pearce could boot the few Hispanic Senators from the chamber, he would. Not that I would put it past him.

All Pearce needs now is some agent provocateur, some patsy, some stooge to provoke an incident at the Senate, and he'll have his excuse to put the building on lockdown, and allow in only the POPs.

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