BY LINDA BENTLEY | OCTOBER 20, 2010
ACRI Chair obtains injunction following Twitter threat
‘No one should be threatened with violence in our nation because of their views’
PHOENIX – Shortly after Ward Connerly, founder and chairman of the American Civil Rights Institute (ACRI), participated in a debate against Rep. David Lujan, D-Dist. 15, on Prop. 107, known as the Arizona Civil Rights Amendment, hosted by the Goldwater Institute last Thursday, Steve Russell sent out a message from his Twitter account stating he “would not hesitate to punch [C]onnerly in the face if I saw him.”
Russel, 22, is a spokesman for the Arizona Students’ Association, which, in partnership with Protect Arizona’s Freedom (PAF), a political action committee, funded primarily by Service Employees International Union and the Arizona Education Association, opposes Prop. 107.
Connerly responded to the threat on Friday by filing for an injunction against harassment at the Desert Ridge Justice Court where a Maricopa County Justice of the Peace granted his petition and ordered Russell to stay at least 100 feet away from Connerly.
Last month, Russell publicly accused Connerly, who seeks to ban affirmative action programs that give preferential treatment to or discriminate against any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education or public contracting, of being financially supported by the Ku Klux Klan.
Connerly said, “Unfortunately, I must take violent threats seriously, especially when they are in the context of other inflammatory rhetoric, such as has been the characteristic of Mr. Russell. A few affirmative action supporters are quite radical and I have been threatened before. Mr. Russell has attempted to incite hatred against me with his bizarre KKK smears and now feels compelled to brag about his willingness to assault me physically.”
On his Match.com online dating website profile, Russell describes himself as “radical, somewhat socialistic.”
While Connerly questions Russell’s stability, he also called on the mayor of Phoenix, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Dist. 15, and other high-profile public officials who oppose Prop. 107, “to condemn Mr. Russell and disassociate themselves from his threats.
“I have been threatened before and have had a pellet gun fired at my office building because of my stance in favor of the principle of equal treatment for all,” said Connerly. “No one should be threatened with violence in our nation because of their views.”
Sinema, who serves on PAF’s advisory committee, said in a recent Time magazine interview, “I’m very concerned about the tone of politics in recent years. We've seen a decline in civility and bipartisanship, and a rapid increase in hostility between those who have differing opinions. I think this has led to the alienation of the public in governance, which jeopardizes democratic participation.”
Nonetheless, Connerly’s request for Sinema to walk her talk on civility apparently fell on deaf ears.