A citizens group critical of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio staged a short sit-in in the county government building in downtown Phoenix on Wednesday.
Twenty-five members of the group Maricopa Citizens for Safety and Accountability appeared unannounced outside the county Board of Supervisors offices on the 10th floor to request a meeting with board chairman Andrew Kunasek.
Through intermediaries, Kunasek refused to meet with them or to schedule a meeting for another time. Secretary Barbara Hofmann told the group that Kunasek was in meetings all day.
The group's members, who were in business attire and peaceful, decided to wait in the 10th floor lobby until Kunasek appeared at the lunch hour or at the end of the business day.
"We've basically been told that chairman Kunasek has shut down his office to any representative from MCSA," said co-leader Randy Parraz.
They were careful to allow easy access for other people. Eventually, eight armed deputies and county Protective Services officers arrived to watch the group.
When it became apparent that neither Kunasek nor a member of his staff would meet with the group, County Manager David Smith told the group members that they were welcome to remain in the lobby or a nearby conference room for "as long as you want."
Five minutes later, though, County Protective Services officers instructed them to leave or face arrest.
Afterward, Capt. Thomas DeVore told the Tribune that the decision to order the group to leave was made by someone above him.
Before being ordered to leave, Parraz presented an oversized "report card" to the secretary to pass along to Kunasek.
The report card, based on a report card Arpaio presents himself in a TV ad, gives Kunasek grades of F for "Serving the people," "Respect for citizens" and "Courage," among other topics.
The report card gave him A's for "Loves Sheriff Arpaio," "Mistreats citizens at meetings" and "Supports racial profiling."
The group also left copies of a letter signed by 32 members of the clergy. The letter, which was addressed to all five supervisors, asked for a change in law enforcement practices.
MCSA members and most members of the Board of Supervisors have been at odds since June. MCSA repeatedly requested, and have repeatedly been denied, a chance to present their concerns about Arpaio during a public supervisors meeting.