Randy Parraz, a community activist who was arrested outside a Board of Supervisors meeting on Monday, said he was specifically targeted by Maricopa County sheriff’s deputies because of his criticism of Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Parraz was arrested on suspicion of trespassing on government property and disorderly conduct after he was escorted out of the meeting. Deputies ordered him to leave the meeting for speaking out of turn.
“This is about harassment and intimidation,” Parraz said at a news conference outside the County Administration Building on Tuesday. “Sheriff Arpaio, he’s the one who’s guilty of stepping beyond the line.”
Sheriff’s office spokesman Capt. Paul Chagolla differed with Parraz’s assertion that he was arrested for political reasons. “He violated the law and he was arrested,” Chagolla said.
Parraz is a co-founder and vocal organizer of Maricopa Citizens for Safety and Accountability, a coalition of labor unions, church groups, students and government leaders who oppose Arpaio.
Deputies escorted Parraz and about 12 others out of the county auditorium for disrupting the meeting. Parraz said deputies arrested him moments later, after they instructed him to leave a particular area of an outdoor plaza.
Parraz said he asked the deputy why he had to leave the area. Chagolla disputed that account.
“He was instructed to leave,” Chagolla said. “He was given a lawful order. He did not comply. And he was arrested.”
Parraz said he was led to a holding area where about 20 or 25 deputies dressed in riot gear awaited.
“They were ready for a big type of statement,” he said. “They put me against the wall. They shackled my legs. They put my hands behind my back. They made me walk 100, 150 yards to the next holding cell, where I was put in isolation.”
Parraz was the only person arrested. He and his attorneys pledged to fight the charges and said they are considering suing the sheriff’s office in response.
Supervisor Don Stapley said Tuesday that Parraz and his supporters are destroying any trust and goodwill they might have had because of their increasingly disruptive behavior at public meetings.
Parraz and other group members similarly stood and shouted at a Sept. 17 meeting. Sheriff’s deputies and county security personnel removed them and barred public access to the meeting, which violated the state Open Meetings Law and forced Monday’s special meeting to publicly ratify most of the agenda from the Sept. 17 meeting.
The citizen group’s director, Raquel Terán, said Tuesday that members’ actions at supervisors meetings are intended to draw attention to their repeated requests to be placed on a meeting agenda to discuss their concerns about Arpaio. Supervisors have rebuffed their requests.
She said group members plan to escalate their actions at the supervisors’ Oct. 15 meeting, but haven’t settled on a tactic.
Stapley said he would be willing to allow the group time for a 30-minute presentation after the Nov. 4 election.
Arpaio, a Republican like Stapley, is seeking re-election and is opposed by Democrat Dan Saban.