A Phoenix, Arizona, police officer, Steve Poulos, threatened to shoot and kill the Democratic mayor, Kate Gallego, the mayor’s office reported Tuesday.
The mayor’s office stated that it had recently become aware of a “credible threat made by a member of the Phoenix Police Department to harm the Mayor.” That is, that the mayor’s life was seriously at risk. Gallego has since been assigned additional protection by the police in response.
According ABC 15 Arizona, Poulos has been a police officer for more than 22 years for the Phoenix Police Department, and an officer of the City of Pittsburgh for nearly five years before that, according to his LinkedIn page. Fellow officers reported Poulos after he made the threat while uniformed and on-duty. He has since been placed on leave pending an investigation.
Poulos responded to ABC 15 Arizona and acknowledged he was the one who was the source of the threat but disagreed that it was a threat, claiming “it’s not what I said” and that the allegations were “ridiculous.”
Carlos Garcia, an Arizona councilman who was briefed on the threat, said that “I don’t think the citizens of Phoenix should continue to pay someone their retirement when they’re threatening to shoot a public official.”
The threat to kill the mayor of a major American city comes amid the exposure of plotting by fascist militia groups in the lead-up to the election to kidnap and kill governors such as Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine.
The Republican governor of Arizona, Doug Ducy, a prominent supporter of President Donald Trump, has been silent on the threats against the mayor, making no public statements as of Thursday. Neither has the leadership of the Democrat Party nationally made any comments.
The threat against Gallego, much like the Michigan coup plot, is being swept under the rug by the Democrats, who are all deathly afraid of any movement of the working class emerging against the attempts by Trump and the sections of the ruling class who support him to build up a fascist movement and establish a dictatorship.
The Phoenix Police Department announced this week that the Tempe Police Department is conducting the investigation into the threats, while the Professional Standards Bureau is conducting an internal investigation. This is significant, as it shows that there is enough distrust in the rank-and-file of the Phoenix police that leadership had to ask for an outside department to perform the criminal investigation.
Phoenix police have a long history of killings and assaults against workers, with many in the department expressing extreme right-wing, racist, and xenophobic views. Many officers have condoned violence in public Facebook posts. As of 2019, the Plain View Project, a database of comments by law enforcement, documented 179 posts from 97 current and former Phoenix police officers, many of which endorsed violence against Mexicans, Muslims, criminal defendants, and women.
Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams made a statement in 2019 on the social media posts uncovered by the database, stating, “I became aware of the entire website today which alleges misconduct by current and former Phoenix Police officers. The language and terminology used in the posts are embarrassing and disturbing.”
Gallego, who is up for reelection in November, has instituted a mask mandate in the city in response to the coronavirus pandemic, drawing the ire of extreme right elements. Arizona saw a surge of cases in July due to a lack of social distancing requirements, and cases are once again on the rise.
Phoenix and Tempe are both located in Maricopa County, the stomping grounds of the fascistic former sheriff and Trump favorite, Joe Arpaio. Given the support for the Michigan coup plotter by members of the fascist Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA), of which Arpaio is prominent booster, it raises the question whether there is any connection between the Phoenix threats and the CSPOA or other fascistic organizations.
Furthermore, former Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon received multiple death threats in 2010 after speaking out against Arpaio, who was sheriff of Maricopa County at that time. The dispute was over immigration, with the mayor taking issue with some of Arpaio’s hard-right and fascistic anti-immigrant policies. Gordon told Fox10 that he was subject to “The constant sort of threats of emails, texts, phone calls, hang ups, strangers.”