Gilbert real estate agent implicated
By Nick Martin | Southern Poverty Law Center
The staff for an Arizona congressman asked the U.S. Capitol Police on Wednesday to look into the extremist group Patriot Movement AZ (PMAZ) after its leaders posted photos and video of the congressman’s house and information about security measures for the property.
Christina Carr, a spokesperson for Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-AZ, said the office reported a series of Twitter and Facebook posts to the Capitol Police’s threats assessment team following an inquiry from Hatewatch.
Carr said the office had no further comment. Eva Malecki, a spokesperson for the U.S. Capitol Police, told Hatewatch on Thursday: “We do not comment on ongoing investigations.”
The actions came just weeks after the founder of PMAZ praised a woman who suggested immigration “traitors” in Washington “should all be hanged … at the end of a freaking noose.”
“You are amazing!” PMAZ founder Lesa Antone told the woman, who was a fellow guest on an internet radio show. “You’re my sister.” Antone even went as far as to invite the woman to move to Arizona and join them.
The latest trouble began on Tuesday night, when one of PMAZ’s leaders, Jennifer Harrison, started posting satellite images, likely taken from Google Maps, of what she said was Gallego’s house. Her Twitter posts included a street name and notes about the locations of walls and a gate.
Harrison works as a real estate agent for Gentry Real Estate in the Phoenix suburb of Gilbert, but it’s unclear whether she used information from that job to obtain information about Gallego’s property.
By Wednesday morning, Harrison was also posting what appeared to be Google Street View images of the side of Gallego’s house, crudely annotated with markings showing his walls and the gated entrance to his street.
The posts also contained angry messages about Gallego’s stance on the border.
“I find it hypocritical that pompous politicians like @RepRubenGallego claim that walls are immoral & bigoted while living behind walls and gates!” Harrison wrote in one of her tweets. “Hey Ruben, why do you get the right to decide who enters your property but we dont (sic) have the right to decide who enters our country?”
By Wednesday afternoon, Harrison and her group had taken things a step further.
Harrison, along with Antone and fellow group leader Rich Osiol, showed up outside Gallego’s home and began livestreaming video to Facebook. The group mocked Gallego for living in a gated community and posted signs, including one that read “Ruben Gallego’s Walls of Immorality,” on the gate outside.
“Ruben is a traitor to this country,” Antone said near the end of the video. “Ruben is a traitor to the American people. Ruben is a traitor to the people that elected him to office.”
Antone and Harrison often show up to events with handguns holstered to their hips, but it was unclear if they were armed during Wednesday’s protest.
By Wednesday night, Harrison’s tweets had been taken down, but PMAZ’s video remained up.
PMAZ’s actions appeared to be one of four coordinated protests taking place at about the same time at the homes of Democratic politicians in three states.
In Northern California, far-right activists Ben Bergquam and Laura Loomer were arrested after hopping the fence of the California Governor’s Mansion. Bergquam and Loomer were dressed in sombreros and serapes, and Bergquam was sporting a large, fake mustache. Supporters followed them around and videoed the actions from outside the fence.
In Southern California, people showed up at the home of Rep. Maxine Waters, where they posted a sign reading, “Murders (sic), Rapists, Thieves Welcome!” Far-right activists such as Paloma Zuniga Delint, Genevieve Peters and Melinda Henry Oporto could be seen in live videos from the protest.
In Texas, a man named Anthony Aguero, who goes by the nickname “Conservative Anthony” on Facebook, led a protest outside former U.S. Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke’s house and livestreamed the event. At one point during the protest, O’Rourke came out of the house and spoke with the group for about 10 minutes, which apparently charmed Aguero. “Honestly, I respect him because he’s so classy,” Aguero told his Facebook followers.
For PMAZ, the protest was in line with the group’s increasingly erratic behavior and rhetoric over immigration in recent months.
In October, a post appeared on the group’s Facebook page with a dire warning: “If ANY blood is shed, it will be on the hands of Democrats for not giving us enough votes to change our pathetic immigration laws.”
Then on Dec. 29, the group’s founder, Antone, appeared on an internet radio show and described herself as “ feeling pretty hateful right now.” She rattled off conspiracy theories about immigration, saying: “Right now, there is no bigger threat to the security of the United States of America and every single citizen, and that is the threat of illegal invasion. That is the threat of the planned, funded, organized invasion of our nation.”
It was on that same show that Antone also praised the guest who said immigration “traitors” in Washington “should all be hanged.”
In recent weeks, leaders and followers of PMAZ have repeatedly protested at Phoenix-area churches that have been asked by the federal government to shelter asylum seekers. The group has accused the volunteers and clergy of engaging in “government-funded human trafficking.”
At one such protest on Jan. 5 in Phoenix, PMAZ was joined by Antonio Foreman, a man who marched alongside white nationalists during the deadly 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. At the Phoenix event, Foreman was seen on video armed with a handgun holstered to his hip and heard bragging that he had just “busted right through the door” of the church. Police were called, but officers interviewed no witnesses and took no reports, a department spokesman later said.
The next day, on Jan. 6, Antone continued to ramp up her rhetoric about immigration. The group traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona, and she talked to the group’s followers about what she thought should be done there.
“I once said I thought that we should put the cactus about a mile deep — every kind of cactus you can imagine across the entire border,” Antone said. “The environmentalists are happy. The people trying to invade our country are bleeding out. They turn into compost, which feeds the cactus. It’s kind of a win-win.”
Wednesday wasn’t the first time members of PMAZ have faced law enforcement scrutiny over actions aimed at Gallego.
On March 11, 2018, several members of the group and some of their allies from California crashed an event being headlined by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, in Phoenix.
Gallego and another Arizona congressman, Raul Grijalva, also spoke at the event.
As the Arizona Republic reported at the time, the group chanted “Build the wall” when immigration was brought up and often tried to disrupt the speakers.
Eventually, Phoenix police were called in to remove the group from the venue. The group was told that if they went back inside, they could be arrested for trespassing.