The Tucson shooting will leave a lasting impression on how the year 2010 ended and how the year 2011 began. A congresswoman shot in the head point blank and successfully recovering from surgery and the killing of a US District Judge, the horrific death of a 9 year old child and the tragically deaths of four innocent bystanders including the congresswoman’s’ aide will never be forgotten in Arizona or anywhere else in the United States. It was reported a total of eighteen or nineteen people were shot.
Gleaned almost immediately after the names of the persons deceased were released, the U.S. Marshal assigned to Arizona, David Gonzales, confirmed that one of the victims, Federal judge John M. Roll received hundreds of death threats after he presided over $32 million dollar civil rights lawsuit filed by illegal immigrants against an Arizona rancher. one must wonder about the poltical climate in Arizona.
The marshal reported that in one afternoon alone, the judge received more than 200 phone calls threatening the judge and his family as they posted personal information on the web. (1) A comment made by the judiciary spokesperson of the ninth circuit court district, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit revealed what kind of a man the judge was with a strong description that revealed a “strong and able leader of his court, and a kind, courteous and sincere gentleman. He worked tirelessly to improve the delivery of justice to the people of Arizona. He was always upbeat, optimistic, enthusiastic and positive in his outlook. He touched many lives and will be sorely missed by all who knew him — colleagues, court staff, members of the bar,” (2)
Records kept to in the news archives reveal numerous such threats in 2010.
In April, 2010, shortly after SB 1070, the immigration bill was passed; Congressman Raul Grijalva says”he’s closing his Arizona offices at noon Friday after receiving multiple threats over a state immigration measure.” Grijalva says he’s opposed to the bill that would make it a crime under state law to be in the county illegally. The Democratic congressman says his offices in Yuma and Tucson have been flooded with calls this week over the issue, some from people threatening violent acts and shouting racial slurs. Grijalva says “neither his staff nor constituents should be subjected to that.”(3)
Another public official received a death threat in Maricopa County, Arizona. Sheriff Joe Arpaio said Tuesday he shrugged off reports of a $1 million bounty on his head by Mexican drug cartels, saying this is not the first — nor the largest. Arpaio, who calls himself “America’s toughest sheriff,” told CNN he had a $5 million bounty on his head when he worked for the DEA in Mexico. “It’s nothing new,” Arpaio said on CNN’s “American Morning.” “It’s part of my job. They keep coming after me.” (4)
Later on that year, during mid summer, Phoenix police placed Mayor Phil Gordon under 24/7 surveillance after he received several specific death threats in response to his vocal opposition of Arizona’s strict new immigration-enforcement law. The heightened security cycle, which adds plainclothes officers outside the mayor’s home while he sleeps, went into place about three weeks ago in light of “protests and additional threats” after Gov. Jan Brewer signed SB 1070 into law on April 23. (5)
Not even two months later, another sheriff, this time Pinal County Paul Babeu received death threats from the Mexican Drug Cartel. The sheriff is well known for his strong support of Arizona’s new immigration law and has been very outspoken on the need to secure the borders. The sheriff declined Sheriff Babeu declined personal security detail. He decided not to request funding for security detail at this time, because the county resources are already stretched. (6)