August 29, 2003
Updates from Backstage

These just in, adjacent in my inbox.

First one is from my aunt. Her daughter -- my cousin -- married G., a french citizen, three months ago. They went on honeymoon, and when they returned to the states, he got detained. He got busted for pot when he was about 16, and though it was settled, this is a good personal view into what happens from here on out to foreign nationals. The legal charges on this have thus far exceeded $20,000, which will never be recovered.

Second one is from my friend. Her husband -- the executive director of the #### -- was just arrested, and all the details are in the press conference below. The #### is a well respected organization that has made a big difference in simply protecting various species from going extinct.

All I'm saying is, these are people I know personally, and two emails like this in one day is a useful index for something, and a lousy way to wake up.

---
From my aunt:

Well, no one can ever say I lead a quiet or dull existence. The situation with G. was (and continues to be) a complete and total nightmare. He has a preliminary hearing before the Immigration Board but not until March. The lawyer is confident he will not be deported but this Mandatory Detention Law is something out of a very, very bad B movie. They kept him in jail for 8 ½ days and the stories he reports about other – less connected or informed – immigrants is incredibly frightening for our society. People are being detained for things that occurred years and years ago for which they paid their debt to society. One of the people who was placed in a cell with him was a Human Resources Deputy for some government agency. He is a legal alien from Africa who has been here for more than12 years. He is not even the person they claim he is – a true case of mistaken identity. Case after case of wrongfully held people. The press makes it seem like only Arabs and Muslims are being detained but that is not the case. My instincts are to raise hell – go to the media, etc. But the lawyer says to lay low until G. case is settled. There are several bills before congress to change this law, but in these times of terrorist turmoil the likelihood of having immigration laws changed is nil.

---
From my friend:

Press Conference
Thursday, August 28th, 2:30 pm,

#### TO FIGHT POLITICALLY MOTIVATED ARREST CHARGES

Developers filed false arrest charges against executive director
of ####

Tucson Police Department arrests first, investigates later- allows
itself to act as a political tool for the powerful Tucson development
lobby

#### and ####s, a prominent Tucson law firm, are holding a press conference to today to announce an aggressive legal fight against the unjust arrest of __, the Center’s executive director. Mr. __ was arrested on the basis of a false police report filed by the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association (SAHBA).

On Tuesday, August 19th, environmental activists staged a peaceful protect at SAHBA’s office. The protest objected to SAHBA’s lawsuit to strip environmental protection for the endangered cactus ferruginous pygmy owl and it continuous efforts to undermine the County’s Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan.

The protest was conducted without incident. Police were not called to the scene. Numerous television and print media attended the event, but none reported any assault or disorderly behavior. Three days later, however, on February 22nd, the Tucson Police Department arrested __, Executive Director of #### on seven counts of disorderly conduct, two counts of assault, and one count of trespassing. Mr. __ was separated from his pregnant wife, spending 24 hours in jail before being released on his own recognizance.

Though Mr. __ voluntarily met with the police who claimed to have questions for him, he was not interviewed, he was simply arrested. The official police report acknowledges that 20 protesters and numerous members of the media were present during the alleged incident, but none of them were interviewed either. Mr. __ was arrested on nothing more than the unsubstantiated claims of his political opponents at SAHBA, the same organization whose former spokesman has said of the Center: “the more strident and radical viewpoints do have to be pushed to the side.” (See “The Wild Bunch, Why does the #### keep winning?”, Tucson Weekly, 6-21-01).

Mr. ____’s arrest closely parallels the Tucson Police Department’s false arrest of Dr. Robin Silver, Conservation Chairman of the ####, at an environmental protest in 1992. The charges in that incident were dropped for lack of evidence and a lawsuit was filed against the police alleging false arrest. Through an arbitration process, Dr. Silver was awarded $25,000 dollars. Interestingly, that case centered around the charge that Tucson Police arrested Dr. Silver without provocation simply because they were told to do so by Steve Emerine, who then represented telescope builders. Emerine resigned after the incident, but has recently turned up as a spokesperson for developers fighting the protection of the pygmy owl and the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan. And environmental activists are again being unjustly arrested for exercising free speech. The Tucson Police Department has again demonstrated its willingness to be used a political attack dog for Tucson’s powerful development lobby.

Posted by kevin slavin at August 29, 2003 01:49 PM
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