Steven Anderson, Hate-Spewing Tempe Pastor, Acquitted in Checkpoint Protest That Left Him Bloody


No fan of freedom could appreciate the draconian Border Patrol/Yuma County checkpoints on Interstate 8 near the Arizona-California.

These Third-World-style roadblocks thwart the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable search and seizure, courtesy of a still-disputed 1976 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allows them within 100 miles of the international borders.

Still, we're not thrilled with the acquittal of Tempe Pastor Steven Anderson on charges related to his protest of an Arizona-side checkpoint, which left him Tased and bloodied.

It's not the outcome of the case that dampens our enthusiasm: People who protest these checkpoints ought to be treated humanely, not tortured with a Taser and brutalized.

But Anderson's no hero. He's a hate-spewing advocate of violence against innocents, and he claims his viewpoint is Biblically based.   

Anderson told a radio station last year he believes all homosexuals should be executed. Not only does the right-winger believe President Obama deserves to die -- he prays for Obama's death each night in his bedtime prayers.

Those are the sorts of evil sentiments that repel sympathy. When we first heard of the abusive checkpoint stop, we grew indignant when looking at Anderson's picture of his own bloodied face. It used to fill us with indignation -- until Anderson made his preachings public. Now the same picture just gives us a chuckle.

Yet, as mentioned, the outcome of his case could be seen as a great thing.

On Friday, a jury made up of citizens from Wellton, Arizona (folks who live near the checkpoint) acquitted Anderson of obstructing a highway and failing to obey a law officer.

It seems likely that both the state Department of Public Safety and Border Patrol will temper their response the next time someone protests the checkpoint like Anderson did.

The acquittal was the right decision -- but it could have happened to a nicer guy. 

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.
Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.