Thirteen Protesters Sentenced to “Time Served” for Acts of Civil Disobedience Against SB 1070 on July 29, 2010
Rev. Peter Morales, President of the Unitarian Universalist Association, Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray of the UU Congregation of Phoenix, Arizona, Mr. Salvador Reza, leader of Puente Arizona, and ten others were sentenced on August 23, 2011 in Phoenix. They had previously been found guilty on charges of failure to obey the order of a peace officer, after physically blocking the driveway entrance to the Madison Street Jail in Phoenix. The purpose of their action was to stop the neighborhood raids the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department planned for that day, despite federal district court judge Susan Bolton’s preliminary injunction on parts of SB 1070.
Judge Pro Tem David Seyer sentenced all thirteen defendants with the same sentence. The defendants are not required to pay any fine, nor to perform community service. Judge Seyer stated that he had considered the circumstances of the offense and the character of the defendants. After noting the motivations of the defendants and their peaceful behavior, he said that they made a choice. Each of them had willfully failed to comply with the order of a peace officer, so they were responsible to pay the consequences of their actions. He concluded that the time already served and the year elapsed since July 29, 2010 is sufficient punishment.
Several defendants spoke. Mr. Reza stated that the defendants are not guilty of anything for fighting for civil rights, as the trial was political, no less than the trials of the 1960’s.
Rev. Morales released the following statement upon hearing of his sentence:
“While my trial has finally ended, my determination to oppose Arizona’s SB 1070 and the inhumane practices of Sheriff Joe Arpaio is stronger than ever.
As people of faith, we are called to oppose injustice and help protect the most vulnerable among us. We cannot turn a blind eye to the inhumane immigration enforcement practices of Sheriff Arpaio, nor should we accept similar policies in other parts of our country.
We Unitarian Universalists will continue to stand on the side of love against such legislation and the anti-immigrant sentiment it represents. We look forward to an opportunity to witness publicly against such injustices at our Justice General Assembly in Phoenix in 2012.”