The time Alfredo Gutierrez spent in handcuffs and behind bars July 29 was relatively short, but the former Democratic legislative leader said he hopes to parlay it into something bigger.
The Federal Protective Service arrested Gutierrez, who served in the Senate for 12 years and ran for governor in 2002, and cited him for failing to comply with the instructions of an official. Gutierrez had led a procession protesting S1070 and refused to stay off the grounds of the Sandra Day O’ Connor courthouse, where the day before Judge Susan Bolton placed an injunction on key provisions of the law.
“We were sending a message to the Hispanic community. I don’t think my arrest will reach the hearts of anyone but the Hispanic community,” Gutierrez said. “Our message was to them. We will resist this law, we will defy this law, we will keep fighting it. We will keep fighting this climate of hate in this state.”
Gutierrez was arrested with two others at the courthouse and the procession moved onto the Fourth Avenue Jail, where Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputies arrested 23 others and booked them on suspicion of obstructing a public thoroughfare and disobeying a police officer.
The demonstrators obstructed the sally port of the jail and were protesting Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s crime sweep that he launched later in the day to nab illegal immigrants.
The nine-hour sweep ended with the arrests of 22 people on various charges, according to Sgt. Jesse Spurgin, Sheriff’s spokesman.
Deputies arrested three “confirmed” illegal immigrants on state charges, Spurgin said.
Spurgin said deputies also arrested Salvador Reza, a leader with the human rights group Puente. The group has been critical of Arpaio’s policies of targeting illegal immigrants and helped to organize mass demonstrations against him.
Reza did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Spurgin also said a news photographer and reporter were detained for not obeying orders to disperse. Spurgin said the newsmen were released after telling deputies they were stuck in the large group of people.
Gutierrez said his attorney gave the U.S. Marshals, who provide security in federal courthouses, a heads up that the procession was coming to the courthouse and he would defy orders to keep out.
“I was treated as well and as appropriately as the situation demanded,” Gutierrez said. “We didn’t resist in anyway, we were handcuffed, we were interviewed, put into a holding cell for a relatively short period of time.”
Tom Henman, U.S. Marshals spokesman, said Gutierrez had the choice of seeing a U.S. Magistrate or being cited and he chose the citation.
Henman said that with the processions and demonstrations relating to S1070 occurring this week, the courthouse was open for business, but access was limited.
Henman said officers with Federal Protective Services, which provides security for federal buildings, made the arrest.
Gutierrez said the procession began at 4:30 a.m at the capitol and went to the Trinity Cathedral at First Avenue and Roosevelt Street for a service.
“It wasn’t really a protest, it was a religious procession, it was profoundly cultural,” he said.
Demonstrators then walked to the courthouse where there were “enough federal marshals to arrest 100 people,” Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez said many Hispanics still fear Arpaio and S1070 even though Bolton kept the most controversial parts of the law from taking effect.
He said the next step in the fight against the law and the “wave of hate” will be a push for registering Hispanic voters.