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Busted for Watching a Protest, Arizonan Says

PHOENIX (CN) - In another lawsuit against Sheriff Joe Arpaio - the 118th since 2007 - a Phoenix man claims he was arrested and jailed on bogus charges for watching a protest of Arpaio's policies. Salvador Reza, an organizer for a civil rights group, claims that after Arpaio's deputies arrested him and locked him up for 14 hours, the Maricopa County prosecutor acknowledged he had been arrested without probable cause.

Reza, an organizer for the Arizona-based Puente Movement, says he was watching a protest on July 30 near the Lower Buckeye Jail in Phoenix when Arpaio's deputies "crossed the street to the west side of 35th Avenue and arrested Mr. Reza by forcing his hands behind his back, binding him in plastic handcuffs, and pushing him to a nearby 'paddy wagon' where he was imprisoned for approximately five hours."

Reza was then locked up in Maricopa County Jail for 9 hours, he says in his federal complaint.

He says he was imprisoned "without a warrant and without probable cause to believe that Mr. Reza had committed the crime that purportedly justified his arrest."

Reza was charged with "interfering with judicial proceedings," which was dismissed. He says Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley "publicly acknowledged that defendants lacked probable cause to arrest Mr. Reza."

Reza says he did not participate in the protest and "did not disturb the peace or otherwise violate the law in any way at any time prior to his arrest."

He claims Arpaio's office engages "in a pattern and practice of unlawfully arresting and imprisoning the critics of defendant Sheriff Joseph Arpaio."

Reza seeks nominal damages of $1 for constitutional violations, punitive damages and an injunction.

He is represented by Stephen Montoya with Montoya Jimenez.

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