The Arizona town that's become a YouTube sensation for its police department hauling away a woman speaking at a town-hall meeting declared a state of emergency this afternoon, leaving many local residents in fear of what officers dressed in full riot gear might do.
Jennifer "Jade" Jones, 45, the woman forcibly removed by police from a recent public meeting in Quartzsite, Ariz., despite the vocal objections of the mayor, says an illegal secret meeting was held today with the public locked out of the building.
"About noon today, the town council, at the request of the police chief, declared an official state of emergency," Jones said online. "Please help!"
The Arizona Republic reported the emergency meeting was held "to beef up security after receiving death threats."
Jones told WND there's actually no emergency of any kind, as it's a peaceful Sunday with people attending church; but in the wake of a WND report which exposed allegations of wrongdoing by local government officials, the town council and police convened an unpublicized meeting to declare an emergency for their own protection.
"Obviously it has put a fear into them, as they realize, 'Oh my God, everyone's looking at us now,'" she said. "There's been no incident to warrant this. They did this to protect themselves. The people are in danger."
She says local residents have no idea what may be coming next.
"They've got their tactical gear on, the police chief and his sergeant," Jones said. "I don't know what that means. I need to get the word out in case they come here. I am very concerned for my safety. We're two hours from Phoenix, out in the middle of nowhere. A lot of things can go wrong before someone gets here."
WND continues to seek comment from the Quartzsite Police Department, but no one has responded to discuss the specific reasons for the state of emergency.
According to Jones, police escorted Mayor Ed Foster to today's special meeting, but he refused to take part in what he believed to be an illegal event.
While citizens were reportedly barred from entering town hall, they put their ears up to windows to listen in as the council went ahead with its session.
Jones says officials specifically mentioned the news coverage of her removal, the YouTube video that has gone viral and several citizens including herself in making their declaration.
She says police made comments today such as, "We feel that they are trying to incite a riot. We feel we need to do this."
"I have no idea what their intention is," Jones said. "I called the FBI in Washington, D.C., and the guy just laughed at me and asked, 'Ma'am, how come I haven't seen this on the news?'"
Jones explained the emergency declaration just happened this afternoon, and that's when the FBI representative told her not raise her voice and then hung up.
As WND reported last week, the original incident took place June 28 during the "call to the public" section of the meeting, as Jones, a pet groomer who also publishes the Desert Freedom Press, was addressing matters of taxation and meeting protocol.
Some councilmembers interrupted Jones as she was addressing the council and audience, ordering her to relinquish the microphone.
Councilman Joe Winslow of Quartzsite, Ariz., led the charge to have Jennifer Jones removed from speaking.
"You may leave, or you may be escorted out," Councilman Joe Winslow warned Jones.
Jones immediately told Winslow, "You can leave or be escorted out as well. You are out of order."
Then, as police Sgt. Fabiola Garcia attempted to take the microphone away from Jones, Mayor Foster came to the defense of Jones and interjected, "Officer, that woman has the floor. You're violating my rules of order here. Sergeant, I have control of the meeting."
Jones was able to speak for a few moments more, but councilmembers insisted police move in and subdue her.
"Do not resist the officer!" Police Chief Jeff Gilbert instructed Jones, who responded, "I am not resisting!"
When Jones refused to give up the microphone, officers forcibly removed her from the premises, and cited her for disorderly conduct. Jones suffered a torn ligament in her elbow during the scuffle, and was transported to La Paz Regional Hospital.
Jones said she was never informed she was "under arrest," and so she'll seek charges of kidnapping and aggravated assault against the officers.
"That's what I'll ask for. It'll be up to the state attorney general," she said. "I've never seen in my entire life such a group of people with such contempt for the law."
Jones, who claims she's been previously harassed by police, says recently some officers – including Chief Jeff Gilbert – have been acting more erratically and dangerously, and says he even gave a speech comparing outspoken citizens like herself to Jared Loughner, the gunman who shot Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson on Jan. 8.
Just three days after the shooting that killed six people and left 14 others injured including the congresswoman, Gilbert quoted a comment published in Jones' paper that read in part: "So Jeff and Q.P.D., the next time you piss off a patriot, think maybe, just maybe they won't be as calm as I am. You think nothing bad will ever happen to you because you are a cop with a 10-cent badge and a gun? Don't be so sure. ... As this economy gets worse and the people get more desperate, remember that desperate people do desperate things. And as people start to lose it, they simply lose it."
Gilbert then explained, "These words are warning signs. The propaganda that's being spread about the local government – these are warning signs. The behavior, the outbursts, the actions that have been taking place in some of these council meetings, they are warning signs."
"'He's setting up to shoot us!' That's what we thought. He's coming up with a pretense to pull a gun," Jones said. "Police are to protect and serve, not to harass and intimidate. It has to stop. Someone's going to get really hurt, not just a torn ligament."
When asked about the actions of the non-partisan town council, Jones said, "I liken them to monkeys in the zoo. They make a lot of noise and throw a lot of feces around, but at the end of the day they're just primates and don't deserve to be writing checks for [a town of] about 3,800 people. They don't deserve to be managing money. They don't act like they're at the top of the food chain. It's embarrassing."
Mayor Ed Foster of Quartzsite, Ariz., says his town is filled with massive corruption among government officials.
Mayor Foster, a retired Marine and former engineer for Wrigley Chewing Gum, is standing by Jones' account, and says the town council and police department are filled with corruption.
"He's just an insane person, that chief of police," the mayor said of Gilbert. "He's a Nazi ... he's completely out of control. He thinks he's running the town."
Mayor Foster said it's not just the police chief, but also the town manager and tax collector who are creating a terrifying atmosphere.
"People in town are scared to death of them," he said. "It's just a clear pattern of harassment and intimidation by this government. These people have run this town like they owned it. It's got to be fixed and I'm not going to quit until I see them in jail."
The mayor says the council has even precluded him from examining the payroll. He believes he's uncovered some possible financial wrongdoing involving checks being paid to unknown personnel, and he speculates the recipients could be councilmembers themselves.
"They're playing a sleight-of-hand with federal money," Foster said. "I've tried to get the FBI, the governor and attorney general involved, and no one has paid attention. But since this video, people are asking, 'What's going on in Quartzsite?'"
The next regularly secheduled council meeting is slated for this Tuesday night.
"It promises to be just as dynamic as they've been," Mayor Foster said.