Randy Parraz, the activist-attorney who WND reported has publicly targeted Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Apraio in a politically motivated campaign to force him to resign, staged a poorly attended protest Wednesday morning at the sheriff’s downtown Phoenix office.
Parraz posted on his Facebook page details of what he called the “Sheriff Arpaio Special Action”, calling for protesters to assemble in downtown Phoenix in the lobby of the Wells Fargo building at the corner of Washington and 1st Avenue.
“Please dress professionally,” Parraz cautioned protest participants. “Citizens will define what it means for MCSO (Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office) to cooperate with Dept. of Justice. Please invite others to attend.”
Arpaio, under fire for a Justice Department report claiming his office discriminates against Hispanics, plans to release results next month of his Cold Case Posse’s investigation of Barack Obama’s eligibility for Arizona’s 2012 ballot.
Witnesses reported to WND that, at most, 10 to 12 protesters attended the event, including what appeared to be several members of the “Occupy Phoenix” movement, who carried signs that referred to the movement’s “99 Percent” theme.
The handful of protesters were almost outnumbered by the news media covering the event, including news photographers who followed the protesters with hand-held video cameras.
The protest featured a cardboard box fashioned to represent a coffin draped with an American flag that the protesters carried into the lobby of the Wells Fargo building and on the building’s elevators to Arpiao’s office.
A sign on the flag-draped “coffin” read: ” $100 Million Misspent Public Funds Taxpayers’ Dollars.”
Also on the box were pictures of recalled Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce and Arpaio with the word “RETALLIATION” written in capital letters below the photographs.
The protesters and the accompanying camera-carrying news media brought the flag-draped “coffin” with them as they went upstairs, with the entire group fitting into two elevators to ascend to Arpaio’s office.
The protesters, after being denied access to Arpaio’s office, presented the flag-draped “coffin” to a representative of the sheriff’s office.
Although he organized the protest, Parraz was not observed among the protesters on the scene.
According to a brochure and press hand-outs read out loud by a protestor standing outside Arpaio’s office, the Wednesday protest action was organized under the auspices of the Citizens for a Better Arizona, the 501(c)4 tax-favored and supposedly “non-partisan” group Parraz has formed to oppose Arpaio.
Parraz’s prior arrest record
WND research has discovered that Parraz’s career as a Saul Alinsky-trained “community organizer” includes a previous arrest.
According to a Dec. 8, 2001, Orange County Register report, Parraz, then an AFL-CIO organizer in Garden Grove, Calif., was arrested for failing to disperse along with 15 others involved in a protest supporting Hispanic immigrant hotel workers.
The newspaper reported that Parraz was observed shouting orders in Spanish to the estimated 200 protesters who were carrying signs and chanting up and down Harbor Boulevard in front of the Crowne Plaza Hotel and the Hampton Inn.
The arrests occurred after protesters who gathered in the middle of the intersection at Harbor Boulevard and Chapman Avenue caused traffic to become clogged.
About 40 police in riot gear at the scene made the arrests to clear the intersection and prevent injuries.
Parraz explained to the newspaper that the AFL-CIO had recently transferred him to Garden Grove after realizing that 31 percent of Orange County had become Hispanic, with 51 percent of Santa Ana, the county seat, being foreign-born.
“I was transferred here because there is a huge potential for labor to expand and grow in Orange County,” Parraz told the Register.
On Oct. 1, 2008, Parraz was arrested on suspicion of trespassing on government property and disorderly conduct outside a Maricopa County Board of Supervisors meeting after deputies of the Sheriff’s office had ordered him to leave the meeting for speaking out of turn.
According to a report by McClatchy-Tribune Regional News on Oct. 1, 2008, Parraz alleged his arrest constituted “harassment” by Arpaio.
Sheriff’s office spokesman Capt. Paul Chagolla disagreed.
“He violated the law and he was arrested,” Chagolla told reporters. “He was instructed to leave. He was given a lawful order. He did not comply. And he was arrested.”
On Dec. 17, 2008, four people were arrested at a subsequent meeting of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. The protest was staged by the Maricopa Citizens for Safety and Accountability, the group Parraz organized to seek Arpaio’s removal from office. The four were arrested for disruptive behavior that involved aggressive applause for speakers critical of the sheriff.
According to the New York Times, three of the four arrested in the 2008 incident were members of ACORN, the radical national group. ACORN had joined in an active alliance with the Maricopa Citizens for Safety and Accountability to oppose Arpaio.
The New York Times noted that the crackdown at that Board of Supervisors meeting brought the tally of arrested anti-Arpaio activists to nine in the previous three months.
Organized Canadians in ‘Battle of Seattle’
Parraz has also admitted organizing protesters in 1999 against the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference in Seattle. An estimated 40,000 protesters engaged in street violence, which in protest lore was subsequently tagged as the “Battle of Seattle.”
WND asked Parraz what his involvement was in organizing the Seattle protests.
“It was part of my job,” Parraz explained to WND in a telephone interview. “I worked for the National AFL-CIO, and the National AFL-CIO was one of the few sponsors of that particular action. So, I was assigned to Vancouver, to work with the labor movement in Canada, to mobilize people to come down to Seattle for the action.”
The Seattle Times reported on Dec. 1, 1999, that protestors clad head-to-toe in black, with black masks and combat boots, threw newspaper boxes and garbage cans into the street, broke windows throughout downtown, spray-painted the anarchist logo of an “A” in a circle on walls, windows and police cars, while puncturing the tires of police cruisers, limousines and other vehicles.
What developed into a five-day full-scale urban riot, Seattle police were unable to contain the urban violence, despite using tear gas and firing rubber bullets to disperse crowds.
Before the street violence was brought under control, part of the city of Seattle was put under curfew as Washington State Gov. Gary Locke issued an emergency declaration calling for 200 National Guard troops and 300 State Patrol officers to assist Seattle police.