Bob Unruh joined WND in 2006 after nearly three decades with the Associated Press, as well as several Upper Midwest newspapers, where he covered everything from legislative battles and sports to tornadoes and homicidal survivalists. He is also a photographer whose scenic work has been used commercially.More ↓Less ↑
The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in Arizona could be the next target of a transplanted attorney-activist, according to his own words as he was being escorted out of a board meeting today.
Activist Randy Parraz, who earlier worked to derail the re-election efforts of state Sen. Russell Pearce, has been lobbying against Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his office. Arpaio is scheduled within weeks to release a report on an investigation of Barack Obama’s eligibility for the 2012 ballot.
Parraz, who was at the meeting today with a crowd of his supporters estimated at about two dozen, had wanted the hear the board condemn Arpaio and ask for his resignation. The sheriff has been the target of Department of Justice accusations that he violated federal civil rights in his enforcement of immigration laws.
Parraz and members of the Citizens for a Better Arizona organization were ushered out of the meeting by security officials after statements to board members turned raucous, according to witnesses who were at the meeting.
Parraz, as he was leaving the room, turned to point at board Chairman Max Wilson and said, “No longer chairman,” according to one witness who discussed the meeting with WND.
She and her husband were there to observe the opposition to Arpaio, whose office was asked by members of the Surprise, Ariz., Tea Party to investigate whether documentation being used by Obama to place his name on the 2012 election ballot could be fraudulent.
The witnesses asked that their names not be used in print because that don’t want to become targets as well.
The activism at the county board meeting today followed a recent protest against Arpaio organized by Parraz that drew one protester. The previous protest was at the opening of the state legislature, where Pearce earlier was a driving force behind a legislative effort to require presidential candidates to document their eligibility.
WND previously reported that Parraz is a leftist political activist now living in Arizona who has made his career applying Saul Alinsky “community organizer” skills. Parraz has worked with radical leftist “progressive” movements in the United States and Canada, including staff jobs with the AFL-CIO nationally and as Arizona state director.
Parraz is operating under the auspices of Citizens for a Better Arizona, a 501(c)4 organization that appears to be violating IRS rules by engaging in partisan political campaigns.
WND has also reported Parraz and a group of ACORN activists were arrested in 2008 for disrupting a meeting of the Maricopa supervisors.
The witnesses who were at today’s meeting said when one speaker in support of Arpaio mentioned his investigation of Obama, the Parraz supporters burst out laughing.
But they said Parraz apparently was implying that his organization would target the board members next.
“Kind of ‘what we’ve done to Sen. Pearce, We’re coming after you next,’” one witness said. “They didn’t verbalize their meaning [but] it was a threat toward the board of supervisors.”
A number of Arpaio critics expressed their dissatisfaction with the longtime elected sheriff who has announced plans to run for election again. But when Parraz started speaking, his supporters joined him and began making noise, a witness said.
The sheriff’s investigation was launched when about 250 citizens of his county wanted to know whether Obama’s documentation was fraudulent and what impact that would have on voters who may choose a candidate not qualified for the office.
The media officer for the board did not return a WND request for comment on today’s meeting.
Parraz has a protest record stretching back to his days in the 1990s as a graduate student at Harvard and a law student at the University of California at Berkeley.
The first published report WND can find documenting his political activism was a protest of about 150 students and faculties and administrators he organized as a graduate student at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, reported by the Harvard Crimson on March 9, 1994.
According to the Crimson, the rally was attended by a coalition of Kennedy School student groups, including the Black Caucus, the Latino Caucus, the Women’s Caucus and the Asian Caucus, demanding the Kennedy School meet the Department of Labor’s recommended diversity levels by hiring more women and minority faculty.
Parraz next surfaced as the president of a Latino Civil Rights Task Force, a group the Washington Post reported on Jan. 23, 1997, was created to field complaints from Latinos and promote Latino concerns to city officials in response to unrest in May 1991 by Central Americans in Mount Pleasant, a neighborhood in the District of Columbia.
The Washington Post article described Parraz as “a self-confident, articulate Mexican American labor union organizer from California.”
WND has reported Parraz, working as an AFL-CIO organizer, brought Canadian protestors through Vancouver, Canada, to participate in the 1999 protests against the World Trade Organization in Seattle in which an estimated 40,000 protesters engaged in street violence, which in protest lore was subsequently tagged as the “Battle of Seattle.”
The Orange County Register also reported on Dec. 8, 2001, that Parraz was arrested after protesters he organized to encourage national hotel chains to employ more Hispanics locally gathered in the middle of an intersection, disrupted traffic and refused to disperse as ordered by police.
The questions about Obama’s eligibility arose even before his 2008 election. Some critics allege he was not born in the U.S. and therefore would not be a “natural-born citizen” as required by the U.S. Constitution. Other critics say that a “natural-born citizen” is born of two U.S. citizens, so Obama would not qualify under any circumstances.
While the first group argues that the “Certificate of Live Birth” image released by the White House in its attempt to stifle criticism is a fake, the second group argues that the same document proves Obama’s ineligibility, because his father was a Kenyan national who never was a U.S. citizen.