Human Rights Group: AZ No Stranger to Extremism

Eric Tegethoff | Public News Service
About 1,000 protesters, some of them armed, were in Phoenix on Wednesday January 6th, while rioters broke into the U.S. Capitol. Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

PHOENIX — The attack on the U.S. Capitol last week has shocked and angered many Americans, but some in Arizona see its roots in the extreme rhetoric of past state leaders.

Sandra Solis is a community organizer with Arizona’s Puente Human Rights Movement. She said before President Donald Trump stirred up anti-immigrant fervor, there was Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the Minutemen, a vigilante group that patrolled the border.

“We’ve seen how these elected officials can actually cause more political tensions and cause more violence in our communities and that their actions do have a bigger ripple and do have a bigger consequence in our communities,” Solis said.

Some of the rioters at the U.S. Capitol have been identified as Arizonans and arrested since the attack. On Monday, five Arizona members of Congress, all of them Democrats, signed on to impeach Donald Trump for a second time for his role in inciting the violence in Washington, D.C.

Solis said her organization’s office is across from the Arizona Capitol in Phoenix, where about 1,000 protesters gathered last Wednesday. She said some were armed with rifles, raising fears about more violence.

There are concerns stemming from social media that armed marches could take place in state capitals across the country this weekend.

“We saw that individuals are going to try to copy and paste that blueprint into their local government, and what does that exactly mean for the safety and the politics of our community?” She said.

Solis hopes the attack in Washington, D.C. will draw more attention to mending the growing divide in this country.

“We’ve all been able to really have a wake-up call. And I think the biggest thing is really just shining a light that we need to come back to a place where we have a more humane approach to settling our differences,” she said.