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Council threatened over opposition to SB 1070

Council threatened over opposition to SB 1070

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At least one person wants to see the Flagstaff City Council hanged for their unanimous decision to oppose the state's controversial new illegal immigration law.

But at least the anonymous death threat allows for due process.

"Each of you should be arrested, tried in court, found guilty of treason and hanged from the nearest tree!" stated the author of the e-mail.

The person suggested the council cared more about "foreign nationalists" than the "safety and jobs and the future of your own citizens."

The author ended the e-mail "Death to traitors!"

The death threat was one of many messages sent to the Flagstaff City Council critical of their opposition to the new immigration law, or SB 1070. Of the 39 phone calls received by the city, only three were supportive of the council's decision.

At least one of the callers said they were made aware of the council action by radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh.

The new measure would make it a crime under state law to be in the country illegally, and would require local police, when "practical," to question people about their immigration status if there is reason to suspect they are here unlawfully. Race or ethnicity cannot be the sole reason for suspicion, but the law does not rule out its use as a contributing factor.

Flagstaff Deputy Police Chief Josh Copley said a police investigation related to the threat is already under way, with the department focused on trying to learn the author's identity and location.

"We are taking it seriously," Copley said.

But the city did not cancel any meetings or offer additional protection to the members of the council as a result of the e-mail.

Copley said he has already attempted to make contact with the author through the e-mail address listed on the threat. As of Wednesday afternoon, Copley had not received a response.

City spokeswoman Kim Ott said the city understands the contentious nature of SB 1070 in the community and the council decision to oppose the immigration law Tuesday was going to spark a community discussion. But the city would not tolerate any threats made against elected officials or city.

"Threats of violence or hateful comments toward or against any member of the Council or staff are unacceptable," Ott said. "We will refer all threats to law enforcement and pursue all legal prosecution remedies available."

Controversial topics like immigration tend to elicit a strong response from members of the community, Copley said. But most are more careful about what they say.

"People are going to be pretty passionate," Copley said. "But sometimes they let their mouth get the best of them."

Joe Ferguson can be reached at or 556-2253.


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