ASU PD asks county attorney to charge protesters in Sinema case

Four people allegedly committed misdemeanors when confronting Sen. Kyrsten Sinema in an ASU bathroom

ASU's Police Department referred misdemeanor charges for four people to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office Oct. 12 after completing an investigation into those who followed and recorded Sen. Kyrsten Sinema into a campus bathroom on Oct. 3. 

The four have not been officially identified as ASU students or as activists part of Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA), an immigration advocacy organization that originally posted the video, but allegedly committed disorderly conduct and disruption of an educational institution, according to Adam Wolfe, an ASU PD spokesperson. 

Jim Dettmer, an assistant communication director for MCAO, said in an email the case was under review, but the office had asked for more information from the investigating agencies – ASU PD, who worked with Sen. Sinema's office and the MCAO. 

"Speaking generally, and not referring to any specifics of this case, investigations involve canvassing the scene of the reported crime, gathering and reviewing evidence associated with the incident, and interviewing of potential witnesses," Wolfe said in an email. He said the investigation allows for a fact-gathering process to get the full scope of an incident to decide what charges to pursue. 

ASU Young Democrats tweeted Thursday "Protestors should not be punished for making their voices heard. We stand with them. Prosecutors must not pursue these charges."

According to state law, it is unlawful to photograph or record someone without their consent in a bathroom or other locations where there is a general understanding of privacy. The law only applies in cases where the person "is urinating, defecating, dressing, undressing, nude or involved in sexual intercourse or sexual contact" – things not part of the video of Sinema. 

On Oct. 3, LUCHA activists followed the senator from her classroom into a bathroom in the University Center on ASU's Downtown Phoenix campus. After immigration reform in President Biden's Build Back Better plan failed, LUCHA announced it would continue to pressure Democrats to keep pushing for paths to citizenship. 

LUCHA did not respond to requests for comment. 

After the bathroom confrontation, Sinema's office released a statement calling the incident "not legitimate protest."

Students who watched the video posted to social media told The State Press last week that following the senator into a bathroom may not have been the best way to protest, but voicing concern about bipartisanship and Sinema's refusal to meet with constituents is necessary at this point.

READ MORE: Sinema is betting on bipartisanship. Students aren't buying it 

Hannah Hurley, Sinema's press secretary, said in an email the office did not have a comment on the matter.

Dettmer said in the email there is no timeframe available as to when a formal charging decision will be made. 


Reach the reporter at pjhanse1@asu.edu and follow @piperjhansen on Twitter. 

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