Abortion Protest Turns To Riot, Leaving “Significant Criminal Damage”

Abortion Protest Turns To Riot, Leaving “Significant Criminal Damage”

By Terri Jo Neff |

The reactions to Friday night’s initially peaceful protest at the State Capitol which was turned into a melee by agitators eerily echo the response to the January 6, 2021 events in Washington DC, only this time the political shoes are on different feet.  

Many Republicans back in 2021 urged Americans to not paint all attendees at protests and rallies across Washington DC on Jan. 6 as criminals. In fact, less than 2,000 of the estimated 40,000 who gathered in the city that day have ever been investigated or charged for engaging in criminal conduct. 

Yet some leaders of the Democratic Party have sought since then to paint anyone who attended a “J6” protest or rally as domestic terrorists.

Their tune has changed, however, at least as it relates to Friday night’s gathering of what an Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman said was 7,000 to 8,000 people present to protest the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade.

Among those who promoted the protest was Raquel Teran, the chair of the Arizona Democratic Party and a LD30 state representative. Teran tweeted a flyer which called on those who opposed the SCOTUS ruling to show up at the Capitol on Friday at 7 p.m. 

The same event was publicized by a group going by the name RadicalWomenPHX which advised those attending to use a Sharpie to write the group’s arrest hotline on their arms “as an extra safety precaution” if the protest went “sideways.”

Teran is another Arizona Democrat who does not shy away from calling on supporters to “fight” in the streets, despite national Democrats who continue to blame former President Donald Trump’s call for supporters to fight election fraud as the cause of the incursion into the U.S. Capitol in 2021. 

Twenty-four hours later, Teran had not tweeted any condemnation of those seen in multiple videos attempting to kick in doors at the Senate Building. Or those belonging to what an Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesperson called “splinter groups” who turned the initially peaceful protest into “anarchical and criminal actions.”

According to Graves, when some of the attendees realized the Arizona Legislature was in session, “they attempted to breach the doors of the Arizona Senate and force their way into the building. The violence of their efforts literally shook the building and terrified citizens and law makers who occupied the building.”

At one point some of the glass doors of the Senate building bowed from the attempts of forced entry, which Graves said triggered security and law enforcement officials to instruct everyone inside the building to move to secure locations.

“Due to the direct threat to the occupants of the Senate building and damage to the building itself, Arizona State Troopers took immediate action and utilized tactics including the deployment of field force teams and tear gas,” Graves noted.

On Saturday, Senate President Karen Fann tweeted a short video recorded by Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita from inside the Senate building. The video shows protestors outside the building, which has several glass doors and windows on the ground floor.

In her tweet, Fann described the crowd as an “insurrection” but the DPS statement makes clear no one unlawfully entered any of the Capitol buildings. In fact, the video taken by Ugenti-Rita shows most of the large crowd of protestors yelling and carrying signs. Only a handful of  agitators are seen pounding on the windows and kicking at the glass doors. 

There were also false social media reports about educators “invading” the Arizona Senate as part of the protests, which Fann quickly refuted. She noted the educators seen in photos wearing Red for Ed shirts on the Senate floor were guests seated in the gallery and then brought to the floor in an effort to get them to safety along with Senators and staff.

Ugenti-Rita tweeted a second video taken later on Friday night when a DPS tactical team was deployed inside the Senate building. By then many of the protestors and rioters had left the area after tear gas was fired at the unruly crowd. .

Sen. T.J. Shope supported the decision by DPS command to utilize tear gas when the crowd failed to stop the attack on the building.

However, the situation at the Senate building was not the only one which triggered a law enforcement response in the area.  

“As the riotous behavior at the Legislature was taking place, concurrent and spillover criminal misconduct in the form of felony criminal damage and the defacing of state memorials was occurring in Wesley Bolin Plaza,” Graves said.

The response of troopers and other law enforcement officers was complicated by the fact some people had brought children to the protest which turned into unlawful assembly, according to Graves.  

“After multiple warnings, and notifications of trespass and unlawful assembly, state troopers deployed gas and strategically moved to clear the plaza,” Graves said, adding that as rioters were cleared from one area they damaged state property in the next area. Those properties and publicly funded memorials which suffered what Graves called “significant criminal damage” include:

  • Arizona Law Enforcement Canine Memorial
  • Arizona Peace Officers Memorial
  • Lt. Frank Luke Jr. Memorial
  • Korean War Memorial
  • Operation Enduring Freedom Memorial
  • Wesley Bolin Memorial Amphitheatre
  • 158th Regimental Memorial

Estimates for the cost of cleaning and repairing the damage is not yet available. DPS released no information about any arrests which may have been made in connection with the damage, but among those calling for prosecution of those who marred the various memorials is Republican gubernatorial candidate Karrin Taylor Robson, who shared several photos taken by Sen. Kelly Townsend the morning after.

Democratic Legislators ‘Liked’ Assault on Trump Supporter Before Demanding GOP Senator’s Expulsion

Democratic Legislators ‘Liked’ Assault on Trump Supporter Before Demanding GOP Senator’s Expulsion

By Corinne Murdock |

Democratic leaders liked a tweet describing the assault on a supporter of former President Donald Trump. Specifically, two state legislators, one county election official, two high-level state employees, and three Democratic Party leaders of various levels. 

The Democratic legislators supported the violence-glorifying tweet from the same Planned Parenthood leader, Chris Love, who called for people to “break s**t” in response to the Supreme Court’s refusal to stop Texas’ abortion ban. Love tweeted to express her pleasure over her husband assaulting a Trump supporter last weekend during a pro-abortion rally. 

“My husband @MiQL got lost in the crowd and I had to send folks to find him. Instead of hanging in the tented area with the cool kids, he was organizing folks,” wrote Love. “He also body checked some dude in a ‘Blacks for Trump’ shirt. Swoon!”

The tweet and Democrats’ support occurred several days before they would demand the censure and expulsion of State Senator Wendy Rogers (R-Flagstaff) for alleging in since-deleted social media posts that federal agents were behind the Buffalo mass shooting. 

“Fed boy summer has started in Buffalo,” wrote Rogers. 

One of the Democratic legislators that liked Love’s tweet celebrating assault was State Senator Juan Mendez (D-Tempe), who’s been absent for a vast majority of the legislative session on excused absence. As AZ Free News reported earlier this week, State Senator T.J. Shope (R-Coolidge) requested an ethics investigation into Mendez’s absence.

State Representative Mitzi Epstein (D-Chandler) also liked the controversial tweet. Additionally, Pima County Recorder Gabriella Cázares-Kelly showed her support for Love’s celebration of the assault. 

The two state employees that liked the tweet were Allie Bones, assistant secretary of state to Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, and Tyler Kowch, constituent services manager at the Arizona Department of Education.

One of the more prominent Democratic Party leaders that liked Love’s tweet was Priya Sundareshan: state senate candidate for district 18, election integrity staffer with the Arizona Democratic Party, chairwoman of Asian American Pacific Islander Democrats in Arizona, and director of University of Arizona (UArizona) Natural Resource Use and Management Clinic.

The other two Democratic Party leaders to like the tweet were Missa Foy, chairwoman of Navajo County Democrats, and Judy Stahl, former congressional candidate and Democratic Women of the Prescott Area Chair.

Others who liked the tweet were those within academia and activist organizations.

There was Will Knight, former Maricopa County attorney candidate and Arizona State University (ASU) Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law adjunct professor; Rebecca Garelli, Red for Ed organizer with Arizona Educators United; Dr. Dawn Penich-Thacker, co-founder of Save Our Schools Arizona; and Bridget Sharpe, Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Arizona State Director. 

Republican National Committee (RNC) leader Tyler Bowyer pointed out the Democratic state legislators’ support of social media posts endorsing violence, wondering why mainstream media hadn’t covered it initially. 

Bowyer predicted to conservative radio host James T. Harris on the “Conservative Circus” that the mainstream media’s lack of equal treatment when covering Democrats would lead to further divisiveness in the state and country. 

“We’re really playing with fire here. We don’t have a community today where we can allow Democrats just to hijack our communities, incite violence, and get away with it,” said Bowers. “This is the reason why nobody trusts the media anymore. People will figure this out, they will talk, there will be an uproar of good, normal people once they find this stuff out, and people will start turning on our local media.”

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Arizona Democrats Push Election Overhaul: Mail-In, Harvested Ballots, Automatic Voter Registration

Arizona Democrats Push Election Overhaul: Mail-In, Harvested Ballots, Automatic Voter Registration

By Corinne Murdock |

One of the main agenda items for Arizona Democrats in the legislature appears to be major election reform.

Three bills introduced recently would check several of the boxes on the Biden Administration’s election reform checklist: allowing counties to conduct mail-in elections for all elections, lifting the prohibition on ballot harvesting, and establishing automatic voter registration for felons, respectively. None of the bills have appeared before a committee for consideration. 

The bill to expand mail-in elections, SB1149, was introduced by State Senator Sean Bowie (D-Chandler). There were seven cosponsors on the bill: State Senators Rosanna Gabaldon (D-Sahuarita), Sally Ann Gonzales (D-Tucson), Lisa Otondo (D-Yuma), Raquel Terán (D-Phoenix), and Diego Espinoza (D-Tolleson), along with State Representatives Jennifer Jermaine (D-Chandler), and Jennifer Pawlik (D-Chandler).

“A county may conduct a mail ballot election for any election administered by that county, including elections administered for federal and state offices and measures, and elections administered for that county and for a city, town, school district, or special district and for any other jurisdiction’s election administered by that county,” read the bill. “A countywide mail ballot election may be conducted only after a vote of approval by the county board of supervisors for that county and if sixty percent or more of the county’s registered voters are on the active early voting list prescribed by Section 16-544.”

Legalization of ballot harvesting, HB2094, was introduced by State Representative Athena Salman (D-Tempe), and gained six cosponsors: Andrés Cano (D-Tucson), Andrea Dalessandro (D-Sahuarita), Melody Hernandez (D-Tempe), Sarah Liguori (D-Phoenix), along with State Senators Juan Mendez (D-Tempe), and Terán.

The bill would strike all provisions related to intentional collection of voted or unvoted early ballots, and the class six felony that comes with that act.

The automatic voter registration legislation, HB2259, was introduced by State Senator Espinoza (D-) and gained Dalessandro and Solorio (D-) as cosponsors. The bill would automatically restore a felon’s right to vote upon conclusion of their probation or imprisonment. 

Legislature Republicans have responded in kind with their own legislation. In particular, State Representative Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek) introduced three pieces of legislation to prohibit same-day voter registration, HB2237; to prohibit unmonitored ballot drop boxes for early-voted ballots, HB2238; and to require voter registration forms to include a statement notifying the registrant that their registration will be canceled if they permanently move to another state after registering to vote in Arizona, HB2243. All three bills passed through the House Government and Elections Committee narrowly on Wednesday, 7-6. Minority Leader Reginald Bolding (D-Laveen), Alma Hernandez (D-Tucson), Lorenzo Sierra (D-Avondale), Christian Solorio (D-Phoenix), Jermaine, and Liguori voted against them. Judy Burges (R-Prescott), Frank Carroll (R-Sun City West), John Fillmore (R-Apache Junction), Teresa Martinez (R-Oro Valley), Kevin Payne (R-Peoria), and John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills) joined Hoffman in voting for his bills. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Democratic Party to Sue Arizona Over Law Allowing Third Parties to Purge Voter Rolls

Democratic Party to Sue Arizona Over Law Allowing Third Parties to Purge Voter Rolls

By Corinne Murdock |

The Democratic Party (DNC) and Arizona’s Democratic Party are looking to sue the state of Arizona legalizing third party services to purge voter rolls. In a press release, the DNC alluded that both President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris had a hand in urging this legal action.

The DNC sent their demand letter on Wednesday, thereby taking the first step toward legal action. In accordance with federal law, the DNC notified Arizona through a letter of their intent to challenge the voter rolls law.

The law allows the state legislature to enable a third-party service to review voter rolls to assess voter eligibility. That third-party service may then advise the secretary of state and county election officials to remove voters it deemed ineligible.

The DNC argued that this process is unlawful because it lacks standards, proper notification to voters, and keeps local election officials out of the process.

“[The law] violates the National Voter Registration Act because it does not have a standard by which eligibility is determined nor does it provide notification to voters that their registration is in jeopardy,” asserted the DNC. “It also violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, both because it deprives voters of the right to vote without notice and an opportunity to contest the basis of their removal from the rolls, and because it impermissibly allows Arizonans’ fundamental right to vote to be compromised by an unaccountable private party selected by the legislature.

DNC Chairman Jaime Harrison argued that Arizona’s new law removed voters unfairly and without due notice.

“Rather than leaving elections to election professionals, Arizona’s Republican legislature has granted itself the power to appoint a private party to unilaterally disqualify voters without even giving them notice,” said Harrison.

Arizona doesn’t offer same-day voting registration. Rather, voters are responsible for ensuring that they’re registered to vote in advance. Last year, the deadline was extended by court order to mid-October. A complete list of voter registration deadlines can be found here.

Arizona DNC Chair and State Representative Raquel Terán (D-Phoenix) had a slightly different perspective on the matter. She said that this law was a petty attempt by far-right politicians to rewrite election law after losing the presidency.

“Arizona Republicans are so upset they lost that they’re trying to rewrite election rules instead of changing their extreme policies,” said Terán. “Arizona Democrats are proud to join the DNC’s legal action to make sure that voters, not far-right politicians, get to choose who represents them. We are fighting to make sure that every voter has the freedom to make their voice heard.”

The Arizona GOP didn’t respond to AZ Free News by press time.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.