A Cochise County supervisor is calling for enforcement of zoning codes that could affect a planned gathering of volunteers to patrol the U.S.-Mexican border, saying local government needs to “minimize the potential for violence and property damage.”
Newman called for the enforcement of zoning codes, which require organizers of large gatherings lasting more than a week to get land-use permits.
Organizers of shorter events are required to obtain temporary permits.
“By not enforcing our zoning regulations, we are not only putting our citizens at risk, but we are also sending the message that we are intimidated by the threat of the invasion of our county by gun-toting vigilantes,” he wrote. “I believe we need to make it clear that that is not the case.”
Jim Gilchrist, a retired California accountant who is organizing the project, called Newman’s remarks “baseless, irresponsible and unfounded.”
He said the volunteers include lawyers, doctors and former law enforcement officers.
“These are not violent people,” he said. “We are there as a neighborhood watch.”