The floundering effort to prevent the revitalization of the former Chinese Cultural Center in Phoenix has taken on an odd ally, Patriot Movement AZ. The organization recently promoted a protest at Phoenix City Hall concerning the former Chinese Cultural Center. The Facebook announcement bashed former Mayor Greg Stanton, Councilmember Kate Gallego, and Democrats in general. Here is a link https://www.facebook.com/events/264864164084341/
Patriot Movement AZ is not your garden variety conservative organization. The group’s past behavior includes harassing demonstrators and media reports that claim two women with ties to the Movement vandalized a Tempe Mosque. But apparently the group doesn’t respect property rights as most common-sense thinking right-wing groups do.
Governor Ducey had to distance himself from the organization after he posed for a picture with its members. “Before yesterday I had never heard of this group,” a statement read. “I absolutely denounce their behavior.”
As support evaporates for the misguided attempt to convert a failed cultural center into a vibrant business center, it’s not surprising revitalization opponents are welcoming any ally, even one with a troubled past such as Patriot Movement AZ.
It’s a pattern. The revitalization opponents’ spokesman, Tom Simon, also has an interesting back story. Simon (AKA Tom Avila) has a lengthy criminal history and records from the Arizona Department of Corrections show he served several years in prison for trafficking in stolen property. Simon was released in 2011 according to ADOC records. Simon’s past actions and his bizarre and self-serving methods prompted a respected surgeon who had been a proponent of the former Chinese Cultural Center to distance himself from Simon. Here is a link. http://arizonaprogressgazette.com/chinese-civil-war-convicted-felon-raves-attorneys-dennis-jack-wilenchik/
All of this comes as a series of court rulings continues to clear the way for revitalization.
If what’s left of the opposition is hoping the Phoenix City Council will intervene, it doesn’t seem to make sense to cozy up to a very far right organization that delights in bashing a left-of-center Phoenix City Government. Some leaders in the Asian-American community fled the so-called preservation effort of the failed cultural center after learning of Simon’s misdeeds. Now surely, more will after seeing the remaining desperation turn to such controversial diehards.