At least some folks will be well-known out in AZ. Bill Goodykoontz of the Arizona Central tells a story he describes as chilling and provocative. Funny the names that pop out at us from the Grand Canyon State. Meanwhile,  theaters in Tempe continue to be sold out.

In 2007, Prince William County in Virginia enacted a policy requiring police officers to question anyone they had probable cause to believe was in the country illegally

That has a familiar ring to it.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer last week signed into law a controversial bill that makes it a state crime to be in the U.S. illegally and requires law-enforcement officers to check the status of anyone they believe is in the country illegally.

Thus, “9500 Liberty,” a provocative documentary from filmmakers Eric Byler and Annabel Park, couldn’t be more timely.

And supporters of the new Arizona law may not like what they see.

Byler and Park chronicle the divisive effect the policy had on Prince William County, as well as its devastating economic impact. Local politicians come off as tools of conservative activists and bloggers, advancing policies for political expediency.

But we’re getting ahead of the story.

Byler and Park began the project as a series of Internet videos. Not wanting to wait the months it would take to edit a feature-length documentary, they began posting video online, where their work gained a following. They continued filming as the drama unfolded.

9500 Liberty” isn’t much more sophisticated than the YouTube posts from which it sprang. But that works in its favor; it gives the film immediacy, as if we’re watching something urgent unfold. And we are.

The Hispanic population has exploded in the county in recent years. With that growth have come fear and resentment. Greg Letiecqorganized the group Help Save Manassas and created a blog, Black Velvet Bruce Li (, to fight illegal immigration. His detractors accused him of prejudice and racism; his blog, for instance, would sometimes bring up Zapatistas when discussing immigrants.

Meanwhile, with the support of the increasingly influential Letiecq, Corey Stewart, chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, began building support for the law. After a meeting that lasted more than 12 hours, with both sides arguing passionately – one woman says, “Don’t ever forget 9/11, who is responsible: illegals” – the board passed the measure unanimously.

Police Chief Charlie Deane had told the board that the policy would require millions of dollars to implement – it was passed before the impact could be assessed – and warned of the trouble that the phrase “probable cause” might cause. Now charged with executing the law, Deane eventually is accused of treason, of all things, a development that begins to mobilize opposition to the law.

Deane wanted cameras in police cars, to provide proof that his officers weren’t racially profiling people. This would have required a tax increase, a request the board denied. Later, the board would take up the measure again in an attempt to preserve the policy.

The film takes its name from the address of the former home of Gaudencio Fernandez. The house burned down, but Fernandezleft a wall standing and used it to display signs opposing the law. Park says she considers the wall Fernandez’s version of a blog. Then a real blog opposing Letiecq’s pops up. A measure to remove the words “probable cause” from the language of the law, ensuring that everyone will be checked uniformly only after an arrest, eventually passes the board.

But not before homes are abandoned, friendships are torn, businesses close – not only Hispanic-owned businesses, but all kinds. Economists cite the danger of making an entire element of a population feel unwelcome. In one clip, the filmmakers capture a man taking a picture of a man taking a picture of a Hispanic family. It’s chilling.

What’s most striking here is the genuine mistrust and anger on both sides. As Deane, who comes off as something close to a hero, says, if his department doesn’t have the trust of the entire community, he can’t do his job. And trust seems to be in increasingly short supply.

Bare bones and scruffy, “9500 Liberty” does a nice job of chronicling the passage of a law and its effects on residents of Prince William County.

Every community is different. How the law plays out in Arizona will be determined over the coming months; perhaps filmmakers will document that, as well. At least one person has his eye on it.

That would be Greg Letiecq, who praised the passage of the Arizona law in a post on “This is going to be one to watch!”

Read more:

By George, now everyone will know who Greg is, thanks to Mr. Goodykoonz.  Regardless of how you feel about the immigration issue, regardless of your feelings about 9500Liberty,  the timing was right and Mr. Goodykoonz retells our story fairly well, considering he isn’t from around here. 

 Yes, Arizona, there is a Virginia.  A Prince William County, VirginiaManassas City residents should be glad to read that they dodged the bullet in this review.

40 Thoughts to “Timely and Chilling: PWC from an AZ Perspective”

  1. Second-Alamo

    Goodykoontz? Are you sure that isn’t Goody Two Shoes? Cry me a river! OMG, if these people break a law they may also be asked if they are in the country legally. Do me a favor, ask any natural born US combat veteran what they think about the ‘hardship’ imposed on these people for the right to live in this country, and you probably won’t get any sympathy. So their only obligation to this country is to pull out some papers or a little card if asked, while citizens born in this country were once required to join the military and put their lives on the line if so needed. People are just plain spoiled these days, especially those who enjoy freedoms that they themselves never had to sacrifice or lift one finger to obtain them!

  2. Rick Bentley

    The whole “debate” is about activists playing on sympathies and trying to get US citizens convinced that they can’t enforce their own laws or expect their government to. We the people know what we want.

    60% of Americans support the law in Arizona. If the issue were more clearly understoof, away from the snow job our government and media perpetuate on us, it’d be higher. But it’s high enough.

    This battle will continue and this issue wil continue to slowly turn.

  3. Second-Alamo

    As it did in PWC!

  4. I have seen so many different numbers on who supports and who doesn’t. How on earth do we determine percents on something like? It doesn’t matter.

    AZ needs to look at its problems and determine if the bill addresses its most serious problems.

  5. Second-Alamo

    If nothing else the AZ law has shown the rest of the nation the problems that illegal immigration is causing, how difficult it is to prevent it, and how unwilling the federal government is to do anything about it. The people of this country will always support a home owner protecting his property against forced entry, and so it is with our nation.

  6. And that’s how come Tom Tancredo…wait…(looking around) ..what happened to Tancredo?

    SA, I don’t think most people feel as militant about this issue as you do.

  7. Elena

    Sorry SA, but there ARE more serious problems than illegal immigration. Like some nutcase planting a bomb in Times Square, like the environmental and fiscal disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, like the volitale financial market, like the Pakistani Taliban influencing events in America. The DRUG problem is the biggest issue, the drug problem and its accompanying violence is the problem, people with dark skin in your community is NOT the most pressing issue in America today. Pass CIR including the DREAM act and MOVE ON! We do not have the resources to deport every person that overstays their visa. We need to concentrate on the bad people that want to do us harm, that simple in my opinion.

  8. Censored bybvbl

    I know several posters here don’t like Eugene Robinson, but he wrote a recent article in the WaPo that makes Arizona’s actions sound eerily familiar.

    There has been much sound and fury about Mexico’s rampant drug violence spilling over into the United States — much of it wrong, at least as far as Arizona is concerned. Sen. John McCain, who should know better, said recently that failure to secure the border “has led to violence — the worst I have ever seen.” Gov. Jan Brewer said she signed the state’s outrageous new law because of “border-related violence and crime due to illegal immigration.” But law enforcement officials in border communities say this simply is not true.

    Roy Bermudez, assistant police chief of the border city of Nogales, told the Arizona Republic that “we have not, thank God, witnessed any spillover violence from Mexico.” The newspaper reported — citing figures from FBI crime reports and local police agencies — that crime rates along the border have been “essentially flat for the past decade.” Violent crime is down statewide, as it is nationally.

    Sounds like Corey’s insistance that public safety was the primary reason for our resolution – facts and cost analysis be damned.

  9. Elena

    Thanks Censored!

  10. George S. Harris

    @Rick Bentley
    “60% of Americans support the law in Arizona.” Please provide source for this statement or did you pull it from some undisclosed location?

  11. PWC Taxpayer

    Elena : … The DRUG problem is the biggest issue, the drug problem and its accompanying violence is the problem, people with dark skin in your community is NOT the most pressing issue in America today….

    I remain proud of what PWC has done and – with no apologies to my political bretheren, to how Chief Dean approached and continues to approach implementation in a way that protects his/our force. I agree there are other problems that need to be addressed, but I missed something; what does the support of a range of actions to stop ILLEGAL entry into this country – the topic of this discussion – have to do with racism?

    BTW racism is different than the question of profling (be it racial, accent, dress, speech, nation of origion, destination, the size of handbags, sweating in the customs line, shaking when an officer stops you, overtly avoiding a cute little beagle dog in an airport – an arab looking guy getting out of a smoking car that smells of gunpowder) – which taken all together consitutes and proflie that says take extra caution or attention. That is called good law enforcement and homeland security.

  12. Second-Alamo

    Sorry Elena, but the subject is 9500 Liberty is it not? So you don’t care to hear my point of view. That’s fine, but I just wish you would intelligently address the points that I make instead of changing the subject, or displaying a canned generic response.

    You said “Pass CIR including the DREAM act and MOVE ON!” So exactly how does the federal government proceed with CIR in determining who is illegally in the country? If you can answer that question it would go a long ways in solving Arizona’s problem. However, I doubt that you or the federal government has any plans to accomplish this. You can’t have CIR if you have no way of knowing who to apply it to. What would be the point?

  13. Censored bybvbl

    SA, if you thought a national ID card was a way of determining who was here legitimately, what info would you propose being on the card and when would a person have to carry it? If everyone had a National ID card, would that satisfy you?

    My fingerprints are on file with the FBI and have been since I was a child. (My father was an agent in the rural South during the Civil Rights movement . He fingerprinted all of us – our rights be damned – probably in case anything happened to us.) My husband was fingerprinted in the military. Law enforcement officers are often fingerprinted. So, many law abiding citizens are already on record. Should everyone be subjected to this?

    I carry a driver’s license when I drive but frequently leave it at home when I’m not the driver or lock it in my car when I’m out walking. Do we need to have ID on us at all times? And what should that ID include? I don’t object to having anything that the government already knows on a card. I definitely don’t want a card which tracks my location, but perhaps that’s feasible for those here on a visa or work permit. It certainly wouldn’t be cheap.

    What do you find as a solution? Admit that not everyone is going to return to his/her country and that unless you greatly increase expenditure on law enforcement and National Guard much of the border will remain porous. So what do you do with the people who are here?

  14. Many jobs require fingerprinting. I was finger printed at age 16 when I went to work for the State of Virginia. Most PWC employees now are finger printed.

    Taxpayer, I am glad that you agree with us about Chief Deane’s degree of professionalism.

  15. hello

    Man, I’m sooo happy that Eric is relevant again, maybe he can find a way to exploit the situation in Arizona to his advantage just like he did with PWC. I challenge him to do a documentary in Arizona on the daily kidnappings (Phoenix alone averages over 1 per day) which result in extortion, torture, rape and murder.

    I would have mentioned Annabel but she has something going on, the Coffee party, which she started, according to her post on with one simple question, a curiosity:

    “I was driven by a question, a curiosity: If I build it, will they come? Would anyone respond to my call for civility in our political discourse and cooperation in government?”

    However, it’s confusing to me because according to her twitter tweets she says:

    “we need to re-engage the grassroots movement that got obama elected. we need to get busy. cannot give it away to tea baggers.”

    So which is it Annabel? [editors note: link removed. We do not publish people’s addresses on this blog, even in a link.]

  16. Emma

    Park, a 42-year-old Korean-American with a smile that can only be described as “kind,”…


  17. Hello, Eric never stopped being relevant. He is a Prince William County citizen. Just what is it that you think he exploited? What did he gain? Are you so ashamed of your county you don’t want others to see what happened here?

    Tell you what, why don’t you go out and film the drug cartel who are killing and kidnapping? Why would you ask someone else to go do somthing you are probably too chick to do?

    We are not going to discuss ‘tea bagger’ any more here. Everyone has made their point of view known. Obviously no agreement will be reached.
    Now, did you have something of value to add to the discussion or are we stuck with the usual playground sucker punch conversation? You know…the one where someone named Hello comes up and sucker punches someone in the back and then runs off cackling?

  18. Emma

    hello, please stop trying to confuse the issue with direct and substantiated quotes.

  19. Second-Alamo

    Censored, my only point, and I don’t have the solution, is that in order for CIR to be implemented there must be a method of determining who is in the country illegally. Unless we expect those individuals to come forward on their own, then how does the federal government make that determination? This is a valid question which no one has even asked as far as I know. The only thing I do know is that a lot of people are upset that we would ask anyone about their legal status. To me this will only lead to amnesty as a default since asking the question is somehow forbidden.

  20. Second-Alamo

    To answer the question about what should be on a National ID card, I’d say that a Virginia drivers license type card is all that is required. However, the catch is that the card must only be issued to a person AFTER they have been thoroughly cleared as legal US citizens. In this age of computers all that is needed is your photo (finger prints optional) and a unique ID number. The database in the computer can be used to call up all other information on the individual as necessary based off the ID number. The key here is to make it a mandatory prison term for faking the ID card.

  21. Censored bybvbl

    SA, my husband’s co-worker has a new Va. driver’s license and says that the license should be much harder to fake than the old ones. ( My time on a grand jury tells me that there are many. many counterfeit licenses out there. And my husband once had a credit card stolen from our mail box and within a couple days the thief had a DC license with my husband’s info and the thief’s picture. It’s tough to make licenses fool-proof.)

    How do you feel about letting those who are here stay as long as they are identified and have a clean record? There could be another type of ID for those who just wanted to work or study here.

    I, too, don’t know how you would determine who is here legally without using some form of ID and then you’re going to have to see that everyone has one and I don’t see how that can be done without doing arbitrary checks. And many citizens won’t like that. Not an easy problem to solve.

  22. Second-Alamo

    We have to seal the border for sure. If you have read anything about what has been occurring in several high schools over Cinco de Mayo you would be appalled. This anti-American stance by Latino students is gaining momentum even at the high school age level. We are slowly, or rapidly, losing our sovereign status as a nation when we are told by anyone that we can’t display our nation’s flag for any reason. These very same people are now running around demanding respect as if they’ve earned it, yet they don’t even respect our right to display our own flag within our own country!

  23. Captain Idiot-Face

    The BEST part of all of this is how the ultra-racist supporters of illegal immigration have broken out the references to the Third Reich right from the start! I love to listen to liberals trivialize the holocaust! They literally can’t complete a thought without invoking our favorite Austrian! Folks are getting a good look at how ignorant the left is. It’s Beautiful! I also dig the speeches by Al “I have a scheme!” Sharpton.

  24. Captain Idiot-Face


    Those students in CA (two of whom were Mexican-Americans), could have marched straight into any federal court and gotten an injunction against the school. A clear free-speech violation. I have been advising folks for years to give up on Mexifornia, that territory was reconquered years ago (the bankruptcy and IOUs are the giveaway).

  25. Censored bybvbl

    SA, I know that the flag flap in California makes some people mad, but it’s small potatoes and only has the power to make you feel ill at ease or angry in your own country if you let it.
    Many immigrants truly do jobs that we won’t do and they’re dirty jobs at that. (Heck, try getting a neighborhood kid to do yard work. As a sixty-year old woman, I probably work harder in my yard than any teenager around here.) We grew up in an era that was segregated and that’s our disadvantage if we let it be one. Our younger relatives are more at ease with differences and change because they grew up in a different society. They wouldn’t want our version of the good old days. I don’t want our version of the good old days.

    Anger and name-calling at immigrants only makes them angry. They do some of the hardest work done in this counrty. It isn’t their fault because large companies export jobs or import labor. They’re being used by bigger forces to play one powerless segment of society against another powerless segment. Meanwhile, someone else profits. And not only that – but gets the biggest tax breaks!

  26. @Emma

    Quotes that contain people’s home address? Not on this blog!

    Totally unacceptable. Had I not been working today that ‘quote’ would not have stayed up one minute. I have notified those who need to be notified.

  27. @Emma

    Actually that was an excellent article in that Newsweek link. However, if that is all you got out of the article re ‘kind’ smile remark, then there really is a sad, nasty, vindictive, yes, shallow, part of you, Emma, that needs some sort of revitalization.

    Would anyone say you have a kind smile, Emma? Or does your smile betray that ice water running through your veins?

    Feel free to challenge Annabel’s ideas, her techniques, or her belief system here. And I would expect her to tell you the same. But leave out the nasty personal jabs.

    I will not have her ridiculed. She had done more to be a part of the American process than most people….speaking of immigrants. What have you done other than hurl insults at those you perceive to be your political enemy? Time to stand up and be counted.

    Those kinds of remarks are unkind and just not necessary. They are like tail hooks. They drag you down, not the victim of the snarkiness.

    Please note I am not a coffee party member.

  28. Second-Alamo

    These people may do some of the dirtiest jobs, but they do them because it is better than what they had back in their countries of origin. The problem is that even though this country provides them a better future they still don’t seem to want to trade their old citizenship for America’s. That is what is most concerning, and waving the Mexican flag while demanding ours be placed out of view is about as un-American as I can comprehend. If you want us to respect and welcome you into this country, then respect our laws and wishes and stand with us for America as Americans only.

  29. @Second-Alamo

    SA, I agree with you about securing the borders. I don’t think they can ever be sealed.

    I agree that the high school situation should not have happened. I had planned on posting over the weekend about it. I don’t care much for the source you gave to it. That isn’t an unbiased source, you know, just the facts please. It sounded to me like there was division already, before the shirt incident. Also, the kids with the American flag also appeared to be ethnically Latino.

    Those kids at the high school might not have come ‘across the border.’ They could have very well been American citizens. We just don’t know. There is a great divide in this county that is more evident in some localities than in others.

    One of the things I read about incident was that the kids with the American flag shirts were wearing American flag bandanas. Why is any kid allowed to wear a bandana? Most USA schools don’t allow them. Universal gang attire.

    I think mistakes were made all the way around–and it seems that the American wearers weren’t totally innocent either. The assistant principal APPEARS to have made some mistakes. However, who knows. The media has gotten hold of the story and we really don’t know what happened or who said what to the news.

    Update: 2 of the 4 football players are Mexican American. 2 are not.

    If the school has a heavy Mexican-American population and they are celebrating Cinco de Mayo, why would someone want to wear American flag clothing. Did they wear it the other 180 days of the school year or did they just choose May 5 to make a statement. No one says they have to go all Cino de Mayo on everyone and wear red, white and green but could they just have chosen neutral attire rather than rub faces?

    I know kids. My guess is these weren’t all that innocent.

  30. Elena

    Moon-howler :@Emma
    Actually that was an excellent article in that Newsweek link. However, if that is all you got out of the article re ‘kind’ smile remark, then there really is a sad, nasty, vindictive, yes, shallow, part of you, Emma, that needs some sort of revitalization.
    Would anyone say you have a kind smile, Emma? Or does your smile betray that ice water running through your veins?
    Feel free to challenge Annabel’s ideas, her techniques, or her belief system here. And I would expect her to tell you the same. But leave out the nasty personal jabs.
    I will not have her ridiculed. She had done more to be a part of the American process than most people….speaking of immigrants. What have you done other than hurl insults at those you perceive to be your political enemy? Time to stand up and be counted.
    Those kinds of remarks are unkind and just not necessary. They are like tail hooks. They drag you down, not the victim of the snarkiness.
    Please note I am not a coffee party member.

    I could not have said that better Moon-Howler!

  31. Emma

    Ummm, I didn’t make the comment, the Newsweek columnist did, so take it up with him. And I hardly think that article was complimentary or flattering. It actually revealed the almost aggressively progressive nature of many of the Coffee Party members and often their complete lack of civility, despite Annabel’s best efforts. The article paints a picture of a movement that is taking a direction over which she may have very little control in the long term. Whether that is true or not, I don’t know, but that is what the article conveys, if you read it carefully.

    “What have you done other than hurl insults at those you perceive to be your political enemy? Time to stand up and be counted.”

    Ummm, speaking of insults–you have NO idea. My own life has involved considerable sacrifices that you will never know or probably even care about. And it doesn’t involve provoking or exploiting communities for personal gain.

  32. I didn’t say the article was complimentary or flattering. I thought it was a fair assessment. New movements often have birth pains and growing pains. Will it evolve into something else? I don’t know. Now is Annabel pleased with the article? I don’t know that either.

    I don’t think Annabel has provoked or exploited a community for personal gain. What exactly do you feel they have gained? I think the film was actually at considerable risk to both of them, given the climate today.

    And I would care about personal sacrifices. I don’t think I am an uncaring person. Perhaps some day, a drink.

    And that was somewhat of a cheap shot on my part. For that I apologize. I don’t know that you haven’t given of yourself for others. Given your profession, I imagine you have.

    I believe Eric and Annabel are good people. We might not agree with them totally politically, artistically, ideologically, or on other subjects, but I expect people to argue their ideas, not attack them personally.

  33. Alamo, that first thread’s for you.

  34. Second-Alamo

    Well, “rubbing their faces in it” is exactly what those parading around with the Mexican flag are doing to the US citizens! Somehow no one makes comments about that, but God forbid we wear the American flag for we might offend someone? Huh, in our own country no one should be offended by the presence of OUR nation’s flag, period. If it offends you than you must not be loyal to this nation otherwise you would support its display. Similar to what others have said, if you don’t like our flag you’re probably an illegal.

  35. Thanks Rick. Rasmussen was interesting. Hotair, I disregarded. It made no attempt to hide its bias. (amnesty-shill was a dead giveaway)

    I have grown suspicious of polls where I can’t see the question and how it was framed. I would say 60% national approval rating is not unrealistic. Later on, the poll revealed that 58% of the people also feared that some civil rights of citizens might be violated. I think they just didn’t really much care. That’s ok too. I guess. Now, having said that, non citizens also share most of our civil rights.

    I can live with physical custody 287g plan in the county. I found the probably cause to be very problematic and fraught with lawsuit potential and potential abuse.

    How do the AZ opinion polls differ from the national polls?

  36. Emma

    @Moon-howler Appreciate that. I was really only making the point that the article was really not that complimentary. I’m not the sort to pick on people’s personal appearance.

  37. NoVA Scout has a wonderful post somewhere that someone sent me. I sure wish he would post it here, about securing the border at what cost and fixing the broken immigration system.

    Please NoVA Scout. If you are out there, plant that piece here also.

  38. Rick Bentley

    “Later on, the poll revealed that 58% of the people also feared that some civil rights of citizens might be violated. I think they just didn’t really much care”

    That’s exactly what the poll revealed. The question was whether anyone’s civil rights might ever be violated, they said yes, and don’t much care. Count me in that demographic also. You want to make an omelette, you run the risk not only of breaking an egg but of violating someone’s civil rights.

    The hotair link was actually a reference to a CBS/New York Times poll – where 60% think the law is right or doesn’t go far enough, 36% think it goes too far.

  39. Rick Bentley

    And that’s WITH most of the media and every branch of government for 4 years+ now colluding to tell people there’s no way forward but “Amnesty”.

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