When the Tucson Weekly interviewed Roberto Rodriguez in July 2011, the UA Chicano studies assistant professor was waiting for UAPD to complete their investigation of a series of violent messages left on Rodriguez's office voice mail in May 2011. Once UAPD concluded their investigation and referred the case to the Pima County Attorney's Office, Rodriguez waited to see what would happen next.
In a post-Jan. 8 Tucson, Rodriguez was understandably unnerved. In August, the Pima County Attorney's Office finally decided it would press charges against Randall Leon Thompson, a Northern Arizona resident who allegedly left the death threats, which included an interest in taking a .357 Magnum to the Rodriguez — an outspoken supporter of the Tucson Unified School District's now-dismantled Mexican-American studies program.
Today, at 1:30 p.m. at the Pima County Justice Court, 115 North Church Ave., Thompson goes to trial and Rodgriguez and his supporters will be there to see how the death threats are treated, and specifically if there's a chance the judge will consider taking the threats more seriously and that Thompson be charged with a hate crime felony and not the five counts of misdemeanors he faces — three separate counts of threatening or intimidating; one count of use of telephone of threatening to harass; and a final count of harassment.
Asking that violence and threats be taken more seriously isn't a huge request. After all, this is Arizona. On May 30, 2009, Raul "Junior" Flores and his nine-year-old daughter, Brisenia were shot and killed by white supremacists in their Arivaca home. Post-Jan. 8, in April 2012 two people were killed near Elloy by shooters dressed in camouflage clothing armed and in May 2012 a toddler and three others were murdered before white-supremacist and shooter JT Ready turned the gun on himself.
After watching what took place this past Sunday at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, taking these kinds of threats seriously in Arizona shouldn't be too hard to ask.