ASU police to investigate activists’ bathroom confrontation with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema

Oct 4, 2021, 8:02 AM | Updated: 8:18 pm
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., leaves a private meeting with Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., White House domes...

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., leaves a private meeting with Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., White House domestic policy adviser Susan Rice, Director of the National Economic Council Brian Deese, and other White House officials on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021. Determined not to let his $3.5 trillion government overhaul collapse, President Joe Biden cleared his schedule late Thursday and Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed the House into an evening session as the Democratic leaders worked to negotiate a scaled-back plan centrist holdouts would accept. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

PHOENIX – Police at Arizona State University said Monday they were investigating an incident that involved young activists confronting U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema in a campus bathroom about her opposition to the size of a $3.5 trillion spending bill filled with President Joe Biden’s priorities.

Sinema called Living United for Change in Arizona’s action Sunday in downtown Phoenix “wholly inappropriate.”

Video posted on social media by LUCHA showed the Democratic senator being followed from a classroom down a hallway and into the restroom, where the group told Sinema she hadn’t followed up on promises she made during her campaign.

“We knocked on doors for you to get you elected and just like how we got you elected we can get you out of office if you don’t support what you promised us,” one of the protesters said.

“We need a pathway to citizenship,” the young woman said.

The group followed Sinema, an adjunct professor, out of the bathroom chanting, “Build Back Better, back the bill.”

“We wouldn’t have to resort to confronting Sen. Sinema … if she took meetings with the communities that elected her,” LUCHA said in a tweet.

Sinema said Monday she and her team have met with LUCHA “several times” since she was elected to the Senate in 2018.

“Yesterday, several individuals disrupted my class at Arizona State University,” she said in press release. “After deceptively entering a locked, secure building, these individuals filmed and publicly posted videos of my students without their permission — including footage taken of both my students and I using a restroom. …

“In the 19 years I have been teaching at ASU, I have been committed to creating a safe and intellectually challenging environment for my students. Yesterday, that environment was breached. My students were unfairly and unlawfully victimized. This is wholly inappropriate.”

The ASU Police Department said in a press release Monday an investigation of the incident was underway.

The school said the University Center, where the classroom is located, requires a key card to get inside.

“Aside from the security measures in place, we encourage students and staff to stay alert when they are using their key cards, and not allow anyone to “piggy back” inside behind them,” ASU said.

She said very little to the activists who confronted her, some of whom LUCHA said were Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients.

It was one of two weekend actions against Sinema organized by the group, which also demonstrated against her on Saturday when she met with donors at the Royal Palms Resort and Spa in Phoenix.

Both Sinema and fellow Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin have been criticized for not fully backing the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act, saying it’s too expensive. Manchin, of West Virginia, was also confronted by activists over the weekend. People on kayaks approached his boat to yell at him.

When asked about these incidents, Biden, whose first year of office could be defined by this package passing, agreed it wasn’t the best strategy.

“I don’t think they’re appropriate tactics, but it happens to everybody … the only people it doesn’t happen to are people who have Secret Service standing around them,” Biden said. “So, it’s — it’s part of the process.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki sought to emphasize that Biden supports people’s fundamental right to speak up. But in Sinema’s case, boundaries were crossed.

“That’s inappropriate and unacceptable,” Psaki said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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ASU police to investigate activists’ bathroom confrontation with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema