Breaking News: Lawyer Observing Phoenix Protests Arrested

Breaking News: Lawyer Observing Phoenix Protests Arrested

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 PHOENIX, Ariz. – Sunita Patel, an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, flew in from New York to provide legal support to a civil disobedience protest against SB 1070 at a downtown Phoenix jail. In an unlikely switch, Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s deputies arrested her and took her to the Third Avenue jail.

Patel was working with local attorney Antonio Bustamante and a team of 30 volunteer lawyers.

Up until this point, the non-violent action went according to plan. More than 300 protesters surrounded the jail. One row of protesters stood to block its metal gates. They stood connected with their arms inserted into cardboard poster tubes that read “No to SB1070.” Another row of protestors sat on the floor, arms interlocked.

Activist Sandra Castro, shouting from a bullhorn, warned protestors, “In three minutes, they are going to start arresting people here. If you do not want to get arrested, move away.”

Then the gates opened. An army of 100 sheriff’s deputies stood in line formation with full riot gear. Ten moved forward, and began plucking away the dozen people who intended to get arrested.

Another line of deputies then moved forward, using their plastic shields to peacefully move protesters and media away from the jail perimeter.

After another half hour, they came back out and conducted more arrests of the people who gathered again to block the gates.

Patel was there the entire time as a legal observer, with a hat and T-shirt that denoted her role. “She didn’t intend to get arrested,” attorney Bustamante says, “I don’t know why it happened. Maybe because they can’t read.”

Her husband Chandra Bhatnagar, also a lawyer in New York, says, “It’s a little bit crazy. She was just doing her job.”

Vince Warren, director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, says the group is now looking into the matter. He didn’t want to comment until he spoke with local lawyers about the facts.

Patel should appear at the Initial Appearance Court tonight, alongside the other arrestees she planned to help represent.

Upon request for comment about the lawyer’s arrest, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office receptionist declined to transfer the press call to media relations staffer Brian Lee. “We’re just too swamped for
me to transfer you,” she explained before hanging up the phone.
 

Comments

 
Anonymous

Posted Jul 29 2010

There were two lawyers arrested as legal observers. Roxana Orrell of the National Lawyers Guild was also arrested. Reports from the ground indicate that police may have intentionally targeted legal observers for arrest.

Anonymous

Posted Jul 29 2010

They should have arrested all of those idiots. When the sheriff's deputies tell you to disperse and you don't then you get arrested. Just because she's a lawyer doesn't mean squat. She should know better. You break the law then you deal with it. Glad to see Sheriff Arpaio hooking them up. If the federal government was doing their job this would not have come to be but seeing as this administration is like an ostrich with its head in the sand then the people of Arizona have said enough is enough. They don't want to pay for these people who come here illegally, get welfare, health care, don't pay taxes, and just leach off of the citizens. It's about time somebody put this to a rest. Come here legally or be prepared to do some time.

Anonymous

Posted Jul 29 2010

Lawyers observing at a civil disobedience action are not breaking the law. They are not participating in civil disobedience themselkves, but observing the often illegal, improper conduct of police. Much like journalists they are witnesses to the events. I don't doubt that Joe Arpaio's men would overlook the niceties of the law.

Anonymous

Posted Jul 29 2010

How can you say they get benefits without paying taxes? Taxes are withheld from wages unless they are working for an American employer who is ripping off the government. Unfortunately, it is virtually impossible to "come here legally" if you are poor and simply want to work hard to support your family. If you have money, it is easy even for terrorists. See, the New York attempted bomber. I guarantee that by far most of the "welfare leeches" are US citizens. Arizona is the new "deep south" as far as racism is concerned.

Anonymous

Posted Jul 29 2010

Police state.

Arpaio is a racist thug who is overstepping the boundaries of law and order. He has let all the real criminals go, and has a terrible record of solving crime in his district because of his quest for publicity. His beat is not safe and secure because of his narcissism incompetence.

Anonymous

Posted Jul 30 2010

Arpaio is a dictator in his own little self made slice of hell. He doesn't care for the law - just the laws that he makes up on the spot on his head. For him, witnesses such as the press or lawyers are obstructions to his creation of a white paradise. He broke the neck of a paralyzed man because they were "subduing" him. Did I mention he was paralyzed and was on dialysis? Why is he still in power?

Anonymous

Posted Jul 30 2010

Thanks Sheriff Joe. I wish we had someone with the courage to enforce the law here in Illinois.

Anonymous

Posted Jul 30 2010

This is just the tip of the ice berg. Phoenix has no idea what lies ahead. There is a war coming. All bets are off.

Anonymous

Posted Jul 31 2010

If you go as a part of a group engaging in disruptive activity by blocking free movement without authorization from the local government authority to engage in such acts, even as an observer, you are breaking the law. She may have intended to avoid arrest, but she was present as a part of the group, not a separate group that was observing the protest. Because of that lack of differentiation, she was subject to arrest just like the rest of her law-breaking cohort.

Anonymous

Posted Aug 1 2010

Arpaio is enforcing his law and not the law of the land. If he violates people's civil rights he needs to be jailed.

Anonymous

Posted Aug 3 2010

HEY Anonymous....get legal and dont worry about.....cause being illegal is a crime...its not racist to ask folk to pay taxes and become citizens....

Anonymous

Posted Sep 29 2010

For those idiots who keep saying it's a crime to come here illegally. Yeah, it might have been easy for your colonist ancestors to come here legally. All they had to do was rent a boat with their budies, come over, then murder and rape the natives and steel their land.

And the Republicans who manipulatively passed the 1996 immigration laws should be criminally prosecuted by the International Criminal Court. I don't know who died and left these people gods. You can't just go into other undefendable countries, arrest their leaders, and then have no respect for the same laws you coerse others to follow. I am sure there is going to be a special hell for pharisees like you.

Anonymous

Posted Sep 29 2010

For those idiots who keep saying it's a crime to come here illegally. Yeah, it might have been easy for your colonist ancestors to come here legally. All they had to do was rent a boat with their budies, come over, then murder and rape the natives and steel their land.

And the Republicans who manipulatively passed the 1996 immigration laws should be criminally prosecuted by the International Criminal Court. I don't know who died and left these people gods. You can't just go into other undefendable countries, arrest their leaders, and then have no respect for the same laws you coerse others to follow. I am sure there is going to be a special hell for pharisees like you.

Anonymous

Posted Sep 29 2010

For those idiots who keep saying it's a crime to come here illegally. Yeah, it might have been easier for your colonist ancestors to come here legally. All they had to do was rent a boat with their budies, come over, then murder and rape the natives and steel their land.

And the Republicans who manipulatively passed the 1996 immigration laws should be criminally prosecuted by the International Criminal Court. I don't know who died and left these people gods. You can't just go into other undefendable countries, arrest their leaders, and then have no respect for the same laws you coerse others to follow. I am sure there is going to be a special hell for pharisees like you.

Anonymous

Posted Sep 29 2010

For those idiots who keep saying it's a crime to come here illegally. Yeah, it might have been easier for your colonist ancestors to come here legally. All they had to do was rent a boat with their budies, come over, then murder and rape the natives and steel their land.

And the Republicans who manipulatively passed the 1996 immigration laws should be criminally prosecuted by the International Criminal Court. I don't know who died and left these people gods. You can't just go into other undefendable countries, arrest their leaders, and then have no respect for the same laws you coerse others to follow. I am sure there is going to be a special hell for pharisees like you.

Anonymous

Posted Sep 29 2010

For those idiots who keep saying it's a crime to come here illegally. Yeah, it might have been easier for your colonist ancestors to come here legally. All they had to do was rent a boat with their budies, come over, then murder and rape the natives and steel their land.

And the Republicans who manipulatively passed the 1996 immigration laws should be criminally prosecuted by the International Criminal Court. I don't know who died and left these people gods. You can't just go into other undefendable countries, arrest their leaders, and then have no respect for the same laws you coerse others to follow. I am sure there is going to be a special hell for pharisees like you.

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