Condemn Arizona National Guard for Torturing Homeless People

Target: Jan Brewer, Governor of Arizona

Goal: Demand Arizona change its National Guard system so that no more abuses can occur

Several years ago, a sergeant in the Arizona National Guard took potential high school recruits and new cadets out on “bum hunts,” during which they tracked down and humiliated homeless people. The Arizona National Guard has been accused of a number of crimes, including embezzlement, forgery, and sexual harassment, but the “bum hunts” demonstrate a special kind of cruelty.

It is reported that from 2007-2008, Sergeant First Class (SFC) Michael Amerson, who had won Recruiter of the Year, took high school students and new cadets out in the National Guard recruiting van in order to discuss their opportunities with the National Guard. On these trips, however, Amerson would instead arm the teenagers and young adults with paintball guns and take them searching for homeless people. Driving into areas known for having large homeless populations, he would then have the potential recruits shoot the homeless people with paintball guns. In other cases, he would take recruits out and force homeless people to perform humiliating song and dance routines in exchange for food or money.

A female recruit reported that she was told to flash her breasts at homeless men, and that in other cases homeless women were told to show their breasts in exchange for food or money. Amerson- and other Guardsmen who performed similar actions – did all of this while wearing the National Guard uniform and driving an official National Guard van. This is not the way the United States military should be allowed to behave, and the system must be changed.


Dear Governor Brewer,

The recently discovered abuses performed by members of the Arizona National Guard are humiliating for the state and the country. Many of these problems stem from greed, irresponsibility, and ignorance, but the most troubling report was one motivated by apparent boredom. The actions of SFC Michael Amerson and the soldiers who accompanied him are disgusting in their lack of sensitivity and humanity. In the U.S., every person should be treated as what they are: a human being. Amerson clearly disregarded this when he sought out and attacked homeless Arizonians.

The Arizona National Guard has to do something to prevent abuses like this from occurring again. Management must be changed, rules must be enacted, and policies must be enforced. The embarrassment that this has caused the state of Arizona should be enough motivation to bring these changes about.  In addition, one must consider the example this event sets for the world. If the U.S. wants to be a global leader, we must treat our citizens with respect. Our military must be responsible, and under no circumstances should they be allowed to attack innocent civilians. Arizona must change the system so that abuses like those committed by Sgt. Amerson cannot be repeated.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Matthew Woitunski via Creative Commons

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  1. Judith faheu says:

    One very big reason to Not go to Arizona. I will Not be visiting a state that condones the torture of its homeless.

  2. Yeah, I would like to leave a reply!! How come this man, Michael Amerson, did not do any jail time and doesn’t have to register as a sex offender?? Shame on you Arizona!!

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