Some residents in a small Arizona city are saying that the term “police state” is more than just a metaphor for the authoritarian rule they feel that they are being more and more subjected to in tiny town just east of the California border.
A closed-door meeting over the weekend in Quartzsite, AZ allegedly led to the town council declaring a state of emergency and the removal of the mayor.
The decision reportedly comes after a video of a town resident being escorted out of an open meeting by police went viral on the Web and caused local officials to receive numerous death threats.
Jennifer ‘Jade’ Jones had the floor at a Quartzsite town meeting on June 28 when she became vocal about her disagreement with recent tax increases in the area. The town had recently made the decision to raise water and sewage fees for the first time in a decade, much to the outrage of the residents of the 70 mobile-home parks that help make up the 3,500-person population in Quartzsite. As Jones spoke out against the tax hike, Councilman Joe Winslow demanded she vacate the building or be escorted out by police.
A resulting disagreement between the two parties escalated when Mayor Ed Foster demanded that police continue to let her speak, interjecting, “Officer, that woman has the floor. You’re violating my rules of order here. Sergeant, I have control of the meeting.”
Despite the mayor’s plea, Police Chief Jeff Gilbert ordered Jones removed. She suffered a torn ligament as she was taken into custody and thus admitted to a local hospital.
The entire incident was captured on video, and the YouTube clip of the event has done little to diminish what the citizens are saying is becoming more and more of a police state.
Following a series of threats caused by the video, Mayor Foster told The Associated Press on Monday that the town council decided at an impromptu meeting to declare a state of emergency the day before. The video, says the local PD, was “inciting riots.”
Additionally, says Foster, Police Chief Gilbert is now in charge of the city.
“I’m going to tell you frankly, this council is out of control,” Foster says to the AP.
And what does that make the mayor?
“Deputy chief executive of nothing right now,” he says.
Mayor Foster has tells the Parker Pioneer that he refused a police escort to town hall over the weekend, only to drive himself and see that an illegal meeting was taking place. He refused to participate and the doors were locked once he said he wouldn’t partake.
“If there was an illegal meeting Sunday, any business conducted in that business is therefore illegal, null and void,” World Net Daily reports Foster to say.
“I want to see open government, not running behind locked doors,” says Foster, reports a local ABC affiliate.
Not only is that government far from open, but they are also adamantly opposed to Mayor Foster’s role in town affairs. Now, supposedly, Foster has been ousted from his position.
The mayor says that the decision to remove him comes after he asked for an investigation of the city staff, including the police department, after recent citizen reports of an increased authoritarian state.
To Foster, however, the local legislature isn’t interested in his take.
“They don’t think I should have freedom of speech,” he says.
Foster adds to the Daily Caller that he didn’t think the alleged threats that sprung from the video were legitimate.
“I have not seen any threatening emails sent to them,” Foster says. “I mean: you’re in public life, and if you are in public life, you have to get used to it.”
Not only has the mayor asked to see these emails, but he is continuing to press local lawmakers to explain a series of paychecks that have been issued to unnamed, supposed townspeople for two decades now. The mayors claims the council has precluded him from examining town payroll papers.
Mayor Foster previously served in the US Marines and worked as an engineer for the Wrigley Chewing Gum company.
As tensions get higher between his allies and the PD and town council, Foster is only continuing to speak out.
“He’s just an insane person, that chief of police,” Foster tells World Net Daily of Chief Gilbert. “He’s a Nazi … he’s completely out of control. He thinks he’s running the town.”
Quartzsite Police Association President Sergeant William Ponce agrees with Foster, but the two officials seem to be in the minority when it comes to the rest of the higher-ups in town. Sgt. Ponce’s Associate also attests that Chief Gilbert and his department have violated numerous policies against the townspeople.
“’He’d say, ‘This person has violations X-Y-Z on their vehicle; stop and give them the violations,’” Ponce tells the Daily Caller. “A majority of the time they were political opponents. We’ve gone up to him and expressed that we can’t go out and enforce that, and as soon as we told him he’d get angry and walk away.”
A letter from the Quartzsite Police Association also makes claims that Town Manager Alex Taft tried to thwart investigations into illegal activity carried out by the PD.
“People in town are scared to death,” says Foster about the Department. “It’s just a clear pattern of harassment and intimidation by this government. These people have run this town like they owned it. It’s got to be fixed and I’m not going to quit until I see them in jail.”
“A lady from England said to me, ‘How can America be a beacon of freedom in the world if we don’t have freedom of speech in Quartzsite?’” Foster tells the Pioneer.