by Mark Scheinbaum
Angel Fire, N.M.
January 8, 2011
TONE OF CIVIL DEBATE HAD A ROLE, SHERIFF SAYS
ANGEL FIRE, N.M., Jan. 9, 2012 -- The fires of the 2010 Congressional campaign may have claimed their last victim.
In an 8 p.m. ET press conference called by the Pima County Sheriff's office, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik decried the "vitriolic" campaign against Giffords during the 2010 election year, and speaking of Arizona declared, "We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry" in recent years, he said. The bold remark was widely noted and discussed by talking heads on CNN and FoxNews.
There was a thoughtful basis for it. Sheriff Dupnik is known as a straight shooter who, like other outspoken Arizonans, doesn't take the right of free speech lightly. He uses it often and well. This time, the evidence supports his claim.
On MSNBC, announcers reported that during an appearance on the network during the last campaign, Rep. Giffords spoke of an incident in which the front door of her office was "kicked out, shot out or deliberately destroyed." That had not made her fearful, she told the network. "I have a Glock 9 mm and I'm a pretty good shot." Ironically, she was shot with the same kind of pistol she owns.
There was high praise for the police response, but it seemed out of place. Even after many threats, police were not protecting the Congresswoman, and a very brave aide to Rep. Giffords captured the shooter, joined by other staff and an emergency room doctor.
Mostly, the police just did their job - arresting the suspect, gathering evidence and witness information, and keeping the public away - after the fact.
In another incident, around 5 p.m. MT Saturday, Tucson police surrounded Rep. Giffords' Tucson office at the corner of Swan Road and Pima St. and quickly began to hang yellow tape around the building's parking lot.
They herded dozens of mourners who were keeping vigil at her offices to the sidewalks across the street, they said, in order to investigate a report of a suspicious package found on the premises. Tucson television station KGUN in Tucson reported on the event in a broadcast carried live on C-SPAN.
No explosives were found.