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Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega condemns hate expressed to Native American community members

Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega
Scottsdale Mayor David D. Ortega with owners of Native Art Market in Old Town Scottsdale. (File Photos/

Hate speech is not representative of Scottsdale
community, Mayor David Ortega provides

By Terrance Thornton | Digital Free Press

In the afternoon hours of Thursday, Feb. 9, Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega issued a statement to the Arizona Digital Free Press condemning the alleged behavior of a man now identified as Gilbert Ortega Jr., who has no relation to the mayor.

Mr. Ortega Jr. owns a business in Old Town Scottsdale and a video circulating allegedly appears to capture the Old Town proprietor having an exchange of words between multiple people, Scottsdale police report.

Around 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 7, a group was performing near Scottsdale Road and Main Street in Old Town as part of an event celebration. It is reported — and allegedly recorded — Mr. Ortega Jr. began yelling at the performers causing a disturbance.

After an investigation into the incident, the Scottsdale Police Department submitted charges against Mr. Ortega Jr. for three counts of disorderly conduct, which is a Class 1 misdemeanor. The crime of disorderly conduct does not qualify for a hate crime designation based on the FBI definition.

Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega is not related to Gilbert Ortega Jr.

“Gilbert Ortega, Jr.’s despicable language and rage directed to Native performers is reprehensible and inexcusable,” Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega said.

“Two years ago, when Native Art Market opened in Old Town, I welcomed them wholeheartedly to our community. Today, I met in person with them to express solidarity and assure them that the City of Scottsdale is pursuing the matter to the fullest extent of the law.

Scottsdale police officials report there are very prescriptive requirements for classifying a crime as a Hate Crime by the FBI as part of the Uniformed Crime Reporting Program.

“… hate crime is a traditional offense like murder, arson, or vandalism with an added element of bias. For the purposes of collecting statistics, the FBI has defined a hate crime as a criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.”

Mayor Ortega did not mix words — he found the acts disgusting.

“The behavior exhibited by this individual saddens and disgusts the people of our community. Last weekend, I spent many hours joining others in celebration during Scottsdale Western Week, including Parada Del Sol, and the Arizona Indian Festival at Civic Center grounds,” he explained. “At the Arizona Indian Festival, it was my sincere honor to acknowledge Tribal Nations Royalty, and speak of the greatness of Native mythology, origin creation and family culture.”

Mayor Ortega says this recorded incident is evidence a commitment to humanity must always persist through the local community.

“This ugly incident must be a reminder that our commitment to upholding respect, dignity and anti-discrimination must be steadfast and never wane,” he said. “Scottsdale history is intertwined with Native peoples living respectfully on Mother Earth, under Father Sky. Together, we are one.”

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