A man has been arrested for threatening or intimidating, and other offenses, after causing some serious discomfort for those worshipping at a mosque in Glendale, Arizona, outside Phoenix.
Just days after the deadly shootings at two New Zealand mosques in which at least 50 people were killed, a man entered the mosque and asked to sit in on a prayer service. He then wandered around the mosque, and when asked why he was there, he allegedly put his fingers to his neck and made a sawing motion. In addition to trespassing and disorderly conduct, the man has been charged with threatening and intimidating.
What is “threatening or intimidation” in Arizona?
The crime of threatening or intimidating is defined in A.R.S. 13-1202. The statute says that the offense consists, among other things, of threatening to cause physical injury or serious property damage. The crime is often associated with racketeering or the activities of street gangs or criminal syndicates, although in this case there is no report that the man had any accomplices or was associated with any particular group. Absent certain circumstances not apparent in the current case, the offense is generally a class 1 misdemeanor. The fact that the offense might also be considered a hate crime could be an aggravating factor if the man is convicted, and this could increase the sentence imposed after a guilty verdict or plea.
Probably the most interesting aspect of this case, from a legal point of view, is that the claimed violation of A.R.S. 13-1202 appears to be based largely on a gesture, the “cut your throat” movement the man made after being questioned about his presence in the mosque. The seriousness of the offense, from a legal point of view, can also be gleaned from the fact that bail was set at only $3,000 – not the amount of bail that might be expected in a serious hate crime case.
Because the evidence of the threat, at least according to the reports we’ve read, consists solely of a gesture and allegations that the man was “acting strange,” we’ll be interested in knowing how the prosecution unfolds, and whether the charge results in a conviction.
Law Offices of David A. Black
40 North Central Avenue #1850
Phoenix, AZ 85004