A Maricopa County Court official today issued a legal restraining order against the spokesperson of the group opposing Proposition 107 after he threatened to physically assault a pro-Prop 107 leader. Anti-Prop. 107 spokesperson Steve Russell was ordered to stay more than 100 feet away from anti-affirmative action leader Ward Connerly after Russell sent a message threatening to assault Connerly Thursday night.
Proposition 107 would ban race and gender based affirmative action in Arizona. Connerly is nationally known for opposing government race and gender preferences and was participating in a debate on Prop. 107 hosted by the Goldwater Institute in Phoenix. Russell is a spokesperson for ‘Protect Arizona’s Freedom’, the group supporting Arizona’s existing affirmative action programs and opposing Prop. 107. Russell was not part of the Goldwater debate.
Maricopa County Justice of the Peace Clancy Jayne issued today’s court order after Russell sent out a threatening electronic message late last night following the debate. Russell’s public message on his Twitter account stated that he “would not hesitate to punch connerly (sic) in the face if I saw him…”
At the taping of a televised Secretary of State Town Hall Meeting in September, Russell publicly accused Connerly, who is black, of being financially supported by the Ku Klux Klan during his official Prop. 107 opposition statement.
“Unfortunately, I must take violent threats seriously, especially when they are in the context of other inflammatory rhetoric, such as has been characteristic of Mr. Russell” Connerly stated. “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. I don’t know how stable Steve Russell is. I call on the Mayor of Phoenix, Representative Kirsten Sinema and other high profile public officials who are opposing 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. No one should be threatened with violence in our nation because of their views."