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ASU Police asks prosecutors to charge 4 people for Sinema bathroom protest

By: - October 20, 2021 4:01 pm

U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema was filmed in a bathroom at Arizona State University on Oct. 6, 2021, by a protester with LUCHA who wanted the senator to hear about the struggles her family faces without immigration reform. Screenshot via Twitter/LUCHA

The Arizona State University Police Department has asked county prosecutors to charge four people with misdemeanors after a protest against U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema interrupted a class she was teaching and ended with an activist following her into a bathroom.

ASU police, Sinema’s office and the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office investigated the incident, said Adam Wolfe, spokesman for ASU Police Department.

The events involved members from a community group that has been pivotal in activating the Latino, working class and immigrant electorate in Arizona who showed up outside her classroom at ASU on Oct. 6. As they tried to talk to her, Sinema walked past them and went into a bathroom. One of the organizers with LUCHA followed her and spoke about her immigrant family. 

The protester filmed the encounter, including in the bathroom.

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Sinema, in a statement following the protest, said those who disrupted her class engaged in “unlawful activities,” “deceptively entered a locked, secure building” and held a protest that “was not legitimate.”

Wolfe declined to name the people who have been referred for charges.

“I don’t want to overstep on the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office and release names, because it’s still being processed and if they choose to prosecute I don’t want to interfere with that,” he said.  

Wolfe said all four people allegedly committed disorderly conduct and disruption of an educational institution, which are both misdemeanors. He said the investigation concluded within the past week.

Sinema’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. But Hannah Hurley, a spokesperson for her office, previously told the Arizona Mirror in an email that Sinema believed part of the actions taken by protestors were “inappropriate and illegal, because filming people in bathrooms without their permission is illegal in Arizona.”

The charges referral didn’t include violations of the state law barring surreptitious filming. That law applies only in cases where the victim is filmed “urinating, defecating, dressing, undressing, nude” or engaged in a sexual act.

LUCHA couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

MCAO confirmed it received the referral and has asked for more information on the case, said Jennifer Liewer, spokeswoman for MCAO.

“So the case is considered still under review,” she said in an email.

MCAO declined to share the names of the people ASU police referred for charges.

“To protect privacy, we typically don’t release names of individuals who have not formally been charged by our office,” said Jim Dettmer, spokesman for MCAO, in an email. “It is usually up to the law enforcement agency whether or not to release the identities of suspects in a submittal.”

UPDATE: This story has been updated to include information from the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.

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Laura Gómez
Laura Gómez

Reporter Laura Gómez Rodriguez covers state politics and immigration for the Arizona Mirror. She was named Best Investigative Reporter by Phoenix Magazine in its 2018 newspaper category and has been honored by the Arizona Press Club for education, immigration, political, and public safety reporting and Spanish-language news and feature reporting. Laura worked for The Arizona Republic and La Voz Arizona for four years, covering city government, economic development, immigration, politics and trade. In 2017, Laura traveled the length of the U.S.-Mexico border for “The Wall,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning project produced by The Arizona Republic and USA Today Network. She is a native of Bogotá, Colombia and lived in Puerto Rico and Boston before moving to Phoenix in 2014. Catch her researching travel deals, feasting on mariscos or playing soccer.

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