Crime & Public Safety

Monday, August 14, 2017

Tucson Peacefully Protested White Supremacy!

Posted By on Mon, Aug 14, 2017 at 12:32 PM


"All this organization in less than a day—no sirens, no helicopters." - CURTIS ENDICOTT
  • Curtis Endicott
  • "All this organization in less than a day—no sirens, no helicopters."

Sunday, Aug. 13: We were late. Ten minutes behind the hundreds of marchers, and a four-year-old in tow. The photographer offered us a shaded seat until they circled back. But this was no time to sit still. Hate and intolerance had once more surfaced on a national level at the Charlottesville, Virginia white nationalist march. We paused to remove a rock from my son's shoe, and that's when we met Faith. She is pregnant and tired. But it feels too isolating and helpless to stay at home today. We stop for water and a hug at one of three aid stations along the route. All this organization in less than a day—no sirens, no helicopters. Then we hear the chant, "Through love, not hate, let's make America great." Black and gay, Mexican and Muslim, all were walking in unison.
But this was no time to sit still. - CURTIS ENDICOTT
  • Curtis Endicott
  • But this was no time to sit still.

As we passed frat row, six white guys hung together jeering, "Blue Lives Matter." An angry student paused to take their picture. "So that's what privilege looks like," he yells back. Then the black man beside me lays a hand on the marcher's shoulder, "They've just never had something bad happen in their lives yet." A woman up front starts to sing, "And you will know that we are family by our love, by our love." When we hit the 4th Avenue tunnel, our collective voice resounds through the streets. "And you will know that we are family by our love."
A woman up front starts to sing, "And you will know that we are family by our love, by our love." - CURTIS ENDICOTT
  • Curtis Endicott
  • A woman up front starts to sing, "And you will know that we are family by our love, by our love."

Monday, August 7, 2017

India Oven Fundraisers Continue

Posted By on Mon, Aug 7, 2017 at 4:30 PM

More than one month after their home was burglarized, Harmesh and Raksha Bhatti continue to receive community support for their losses. The burglars claimed all of their computers, televisions and jewelry—they also inflicted permanent damage to furniture and other possessions in their home.  Following the incident, individuals and organizations banded together to help restore stability to the Bhatti's life.

Ori Parnaby, organizer of a YouCaring crowd funding campaign to benefit the Bhatti's, turned over a check for $1,540 to the restaurateurs Tuesday, Aug. 1. Fundraising efforts continue to stream in from across Tucson, though much of the damage to the home remains. Organizers of fundraising efforts ask community members to continue lending their support to the Bhattis on their road to recovery.

In the coming weeks, consider dining at the India Oven (2727 N. Campbell Ave.) or donating to Parnaby’s campaign and showing the Bhattis your support.
Related: Tucson Restaurateurs Victimized in Home Burglary, Community Unites to Support India Oven


Friday, July 7, 2017

Tucson Restaurateurs Victimized in Home Burglary

Posted By on Fri, Jul 7, 2017 at 11:00 AM

Harmesh and Raksha Bhatti with Tucson Mayor Rothschild during India Oven's 20th Anniversary celebration in 2014. - ARC PHOTOGRAPHY VIA FACEBOOK
  • ARC Photography via Facebook
  • Harmesh and Raksha Bhatti with Tucson Mayor Rothschild during India Oven's 20th Anniversary celebration in 2014.

Consider visiting a restaurant that is as warm, familiar and familial as a friend’s kitchen. Imagine the walls, lined with family photos, and the smell of cumin, coriander and chilies lingering over good company.

Since 1993, Tucson’s India Oven (2727 N. Campbell Ave.) has proudly served up a taste of Indian home cooking. Harmesh and Raksha Bhatti, the proprietors of this longtime Tucson-staple, find their second home inconspicuously nestled in a Campbell mini mall. The restaurateurs, as much as the restaurant itself, attract patrons from across the valley to experience the welcoming warmth of India Oven.

For 24 years, the Bhattis, as dedicated proprietors to their business, arrive some hours before the restaurant’s opening, and stay hours after close. On one such day two weeks ago, the Bhattis returned from a full day of work to find their home ransacked and burgled.

“We had been working here all day,” Raksha said. “We no go home until very late, sometime like 10:30 p.m., and to see our home like that…very sad. They took everything.”

It would seem the burglars left no stone unturned. Tears well in Raksha’s eyes, as she explains the totality of the burglar’s damage. Generations of jewelry, all gone; the delicate gold bands that linked Raksha to the communal memory of her parents, as well to the memories of her wedding day and granddaughter’s birth, all lost. A 65-inch, flat screen television Raksha bought for Harmesh on Thanksgiving: gone. Computers housing files and photos, as well as cameras used to document the many journeys of the Bhatti family: gone.

In addition to the many family heirlooms and memories lost to the burglary, the Bhatti’s home was also destroyed.

“They smashed up the whole couch and throw our clothes across house,” Raksha said. “They smashed up everything: all my paperwork… everything. It is very scary.”

Though Tucson police responded to the scene, no leads have been determined. Additionally, the Bhatti’s home was uninsured during the time of the accident.

“Our people do not think about it that way,” Raksha said. “I have little idea how to take insurance, I never thought we’d need it. We work 24 year in this place. We think America is good… We never think something like this could happen in our community.”

The Bhattis now set out to rebuild their home. Though the police have yet to catch the culprits of this crime, Raksha remains hopeful that good will prevail.

“At least I have this business,” Raksha said. “We will build again. It is no easy for me, but we will build again with community help.”


Editor's Note: This story has been updated.

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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

'A' Mountain, a Fire

Posted By on Wed, Jul 5, 2017 at 2:33 PM

The Fourth of July is synonymous with watermelon, barbeque and fireworks. Here in Tucson, it's all those things and more, with "more" being the annual grass-fire on Sentinel Peak, aka "A" Mountain.

This years' torching was more extensive than past years, with the entire south-face of the peak erupting in flames for well over three hours.

I initially started my night at Kino Sports Park, however after seeing initial social media postings depicting the fire, I quickly jumped into traffic and headed towards the west-side. Here is a video diary of what I was able to capture:

I saw initial reports of a fire breaking out on "A" Mountain and decided to head over. Immediately after leaving Kino Sports Complex and jumping onto Campbell Avenue, the fire was visible. At this point, the fireworks show was still proceeding.


As I crossed the I-10 onto Tucson's west-side, the fire came into view in spectacular fashion. Multiple vehicles pulled off the road to witness the blaze. People looking to leave the area after the fireworks clashed with traffic returning from other parts of the city. This video is taken from a neighborhood on Silverlake Road, a little over a mile from the fire.

Continue reading »

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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Have You Seen These Paintings? Cardenas Artwork Stolen From Former Bring Funeral Home Space

Posted By on Thu, Mar 30, 2017 at 3:48 PM

Dreamer by Cristina Cardenas is one of five paintings stolen from the former Brings Funeral Home.
  • Dreamer by Cristina Cardenas is one of five paintings stolen from the former Brings Funeral Home.
On Sunday, March 26, five paintings by Tucson artist Cristina Cardenas were discovered stolen from an office space that's part of the former Bring Funeral Home on Scott Avenue downtown (236 S. Scott Ave.).

Cardenas is a member of the Citizens Artist Collective at the Citizens Warehouse, 44 W. 6th St.

Cardenas says the art was part of an informal group show. The former Bring Funeral Home is a Peach Properties space. Patricia Schwabe from Peach Properties met with some Citizens artists to ask if they would be interested in lending their work to hang in an area of the building used for office space and events. Cardenas was one of seven artists who agreed. It was on Sunday that Cardenas received an email fellow Citizens artist Titus Constanza who was reportedly contacted by Schwabe.

"'Patricia told me that your pieces are missing. Did you happen to remove them by any chance?'" Cardenas recalls.

cardenas2.jpg
When the paintings were stolen isn't exactly clear. Police reports were filed this week by Schwabe and Cardenas, but neither report was available at the Tucson Police Department when I went there yesterday to request copies. I was told the police were just called, so written reports would be available later this week.

Schwabe and I exchanged a few voicemails, and she responded to an email I sent asking about the theft. She wrote that a few months ago she reached out to Citizens artist Constanza about hanging art in the building.

"I love having local artists show when possible and I believe the building created a great setting. White beautiful walls. Titus was very helpful, he brought his art and later art of other artists. The building is occupied by offices mostly. The (Owls Club) bar occupies its own space, with its own entrance," Schwabe wrote.

cardenas5.jpg
"This past weekend I noticed some pieces missing, I contacted Titus immediately. I did not know the name of the artist that had painted the pieces missing. I did not know if she/or he had picked up the art. It was peculiar because no other items in the building were missing. I did a walk through and didn't see anything else out of the ordinary."

Schwabe wrote that her office is in the building and she is there almost every day. Constanza, she wrote, contacted the artist and told her Cardenas hadn't taken the pieces.



"Then I contacted our tenants. They were all very surprised that something would be missing. No idea of what happened and had not seen anything suspicious. ... Titus, Cristina and I met the next day and I offered to file a police report. ... I think this incident is awful, it doesn’t reflect the principles or culture of the people in the area or that visit the building. Whoever took it, took advantage of a positive situation," Schwabe wrote.

Cardenas says that she was told an event took place at the property on Saturday night, and most likely that's when the paintings were stolen—three small pieces, gouache paint on wood panel and two medium size pieces, gouache paint on wood board.

cardenas1.jpg
"When I went there (Monday) with Titus, Patricia showed me the nails where the paintings were hung. It would be easy to take them. There is no security camera," she says.

It's understandable that Cardenas is upset about her work being stolen and was working with Schwabe to compensate her for the paintings.

Cardenas has been an artist and art instructor in Tucson the past 30 years. Her work is part of the permanent collection at the University of Arizona Museum of Art, the Museum of Art in Chicago and the Mexican Museum in San Francisco, among others.

Cardenas says the value of the work stolen comes to $6,150, and she is asking that Schwabe pay her $4,614 with half paid immediately and the other half next month. Cardenas says Schwabe had offered to pay $3,000 over several payments, which Cardenas says is not acceptable.

However, no payment is expected to be made, since Schwabe confirmed she is filing an insurance claim, but she told me she doesn't know when or if the insurance payment will be made or how long the process will take.

Continue reading »

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Do You Know This Idiot?

Posted By on Wed, Mar 15, 2017 at 8:29 AM

17190536_1408559179226033_936672438998939554_n.jpg
Yesterday, the Islamic Center of Tucson posted this idiot's picture on their Facebook page, claiming that this man is a suspect in a break in at the university area mosque and center.

From their post:

Yesterday morning, March 13th, the Islamic Center of Tucson (ICT) was broken into and vandalized. Thankfully, no one was hurt.

The camera footage leads us to believe the sole intent of this individual was to damage the center's religious property. The Tucson Police Department responded quickly. As always, they were kind, courteous, and thorough with their investigation.

Although we are disheartened by this incident, we understand that this is an isolated incident. The ICT has been a part of the Tucson community since the late 1980’s and since then, the Tucson community has been kind, welcoming, and supportive.

Unfortunately the vandal has not yet been caught. We are asking the supportive Tucson community for their help. Please see the image below. If you know who the individual is: Call 88-CRIME or 911.

We thank the Tucson Police Department for working hard on this investigation. We thank the Tucson community for their continued support.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Is Antisemitism Rising to the Threat Level?

Posted By on Tue, Feb 28, 2017 at 4:28 PM

COURTESY OF STATIC FLICKR.COM
  • Courtesy of static flickr.com
I'm Jewish. I've watched intently as the antisemitic alt right has grown in prominence during and after the presidential campaign. Breibart.com gave the haters a voice, orchestrated by Steve Bannon, Breibart's executive chair. Trump retweeted some of the alt right's garbage because he liked the way it sounded. After his election, he made Bannon his closest advisor, making Bannon the most powerful man in the White House except for, or maybe including, Trump himself. An exultant group of alt righters gathered in D.C. after the election, ending their celebration with a speech by Richard Spencer who exalted white people using language reminiscent of the Third Reich. He ended his speech with, “Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail Victory!"

But through all that, I honestly wasn't very worried that antisemitism would rise to the level of a serious problem. I've been focused on the very real threats to Muslims and Hispanics whose daily lives have been harmed and whose feeling of safety within our country has been imperiled. Worrying too much about antisemitism as I sit on my reasonably safe, secure societal perch has felt a bit self indulgent. Sure we're seeing some visible signs of hatred toward Jews, but it has always been there hiding just under the surface, and watching it peek its ugly head out of the cess pool where it lives didn't seem too consequential.

Until now. Now, following the desecrations of Jewish cemeteries and the bomb threats called into Jewish Community Centers across the country, including our JCC here in Tucson, it's beginning to look real. I'm still trying to keep it in context. The Trump administration's moves against immigrants and Muslims are a far more immediate, day-by-day concern. But I'm no longer unconcerned about the threat of antisemitism.

Continue reading »

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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Tracking the Tricked: Police Join the Fight Against Human Trafficking

Posted By on Thu, Feb 23, 2017 at 9:55 AM

click image MIKE CHRISTY FOR ARIZONA DAILY STAR 2014
  • Mike Christy for Arizona Daily Star 2014

The Southern Arizona Anti-Trafficking Unified Response Network task force, known as SAATURN, received a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to research, track and combat human trafficking in Tucson for three years. The grant and task force began in October 2015.

Tucson Police Department is one of three grantees for this task force, joining CODAC Health, Recovery and Wellness and the University of Arizona’s Southwest Institute for Research on Women.

Detective Jennifer Crawford has been investigating violent crime for nearly 17 years, and currently works in TPD's Street Crime Interdiction Unit—the unit responsible for studying human trafficking in Tucson.

Crawford said events like the Gem Show or large sporting events can draw more trafficking activity because the exploitative industry tends to "follow the money" and crowded events can attract an influx of trafficking of girls from other cities.

She said one of the main ways police keep tabs on trafficking is through online sites such as Backpage, where third-party contributors, such as escorts, can sell "dates."

The money from the grant allocated for TPD is spent on operational equipment as well as training and outreach programs, according to Crawford. The Street Crime Interdiction Unit is comprised of four detectives and two federal agents, and grant money will also be spent on funding the team's investigative hours should they have to work overtime.

"They help support us and we're able to do a lot more than we used to and also work at a federal level if we need to," Crawford said.

Crawford said trafficking tends to be a harder crime to prosecute than others. Reasons being victims can be hesitant to disclose information and it can be difficult to keep victims on track during an unfortunately tedious court process.

"I'd say we've definitely made a lot of strides and we've moved forward a lot in the last year since we've gotten our task force up and running and with our support service people as well," Crawford said.

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