Welcome to Muammar Gaddafi's Libya. Details are sketchy, but civil rights activists Salvador Reza and Anayanse Garza of the group Puente were arrested inside the Arizona state Senate building today, apparently for the bogus charge of trespassing.
I say "apparently" because neither the Capitol Police, nor Arizona DPS Security Attache J. Gentry Burton, who was on duty today doing security work, would tell me anything when I arrived after hearing about this police state idiocy.
A call to the Arizona Department of Administration, which usually speaks for the Capitol Police, was not returned. And DPS was similarly mum.
However, sources tell me Reza and Garza went to the state Senate today to pick up forms related to having a demonstration on the Capitol grounds. Reza was informed that he was banned from the Senate building and told to leave.
Reza, according to these sources, asked to see some documentation, something in writing. Garza and Reza were then arrested and taken to the MCSO's Fourth Avenue Jail for processing. They'll likely not be out until late tonight.
The scuttlebutt is that the Capitol Police and state Senate President Russell Pearce were unhappy with the overflow crowds that attended Tuesday's marathon Appropriations Committee hearing. That's the one in which Pearce's monster anti-immigration SB 1611 omnibus was heard.
I find this particularly cracked, as I was there in the evening. The crowd was confined to a large room where they watched the proceedings via TV. The activists were peaceful and in good spirits, even though they were not allowed into the room where the hearing was actually taking place.
(Another source informed me that Reza had been warned not to return Tuesday night. I do not know if this is true. Even if he had been, there would have been no reason for such an order.)
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Radio host Carlos Galindo was cited and banned from the state Senate building earlier Tuesday, after he and other activists protested a press conference being given in the building by Democratic state Senator Kyrsten Sinema. Four people were arrested.
But Galindo, who was outside the state Senate building today, told me they were cited and released, and not transported to Fourth Avenue.
This is, obviously, retribution. And I'm sure Pearce is chuckling about it right now. During Tuesday's hearing, Democratic Senator Olivia Cajero Bedford referred to Pearce as a "dictator." He may have just proved her right.
(Note: Reza has been arrested for civil disobedience in the past, and in retribution for his protests of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. I'll update this blog when he gets out and I get more info.)