by Pollyanna Sunshine
Many people across the nation and a heck of a lot of folks in Arizona who are celebrating (or lamenting) Judge Susan Bolton’s decision today seem to be under the impression that SB 1070 is now dead or at least on hold until the relevant cases have a fair chance to work their way through the court system. At the planning meetings I attended yesterday, organizers (including several of the lawyers and individually named plaintiffs in the cases Bolton just reviewed) were really worried that this was going to lull people into submission and make potential protesters and the national news media lose interest, even as state and local law enforcement agencies are gearing up to crack down hard on seeking out and prosecuting any possible violation of state or federal immigration and employment laws.
Please note that, in doing so, the Arizona legislature has now created a situation in which the federal authorities are going to have to redirect a bunch of lawyers and paper-pushers and ICE officers away from patrolling the borders or investigating much more serious threats to public safety, in order to go out to every metropolitan county jail or podunk small town where some officer has just hauled in someone on suspicion of illegality and is now legally forbidden to release the detained person until federal officials have sorted it all out, confirmed the person’s immigration status, and decided where to take it from there. Your tax dollars at work (I say to my fine friends out there in Colorado or NY or Minnesota or wherever the hell you are, who are feeling all smug right about now that you had the good sense not to live here).
While the injunction has slightly lifted the spirits of folks who have been fighting Arizona’s insane anti-immigrant (and, in actual fact, mostly anti-Latino or anti-anyone who looks Latino) activities for years, by reminding us that there is still a system of checks and balances in this country that is at least attempting to uphold our Constitutional rights and the other laws We the People have passed over the years, none of us can afford to forget or ignore or be apathetic about what is happening down here in Sandland, because this is the biggest civil rights battle this nation has seen since approximately 1964, and I am not exaggerating when I say that. I spent last night meeting with people who have come here from all over the state and country to protest this thing, being trained by bona fide Community Organizers to consider just how far we are willing to go to protest and resist this thing, given the legal and physical risks we are facing in a tense situation with heavily armed police and sheriff’s deputies on every corner (along with a lot of very angry pro-SB 1070 protesters who are furious that all us furriners and Californians and illegals are coming here and putting up such a stink about this).
I do not think the city will burn tonight, as long as all us gringos remember to wear sunscreen and nobody drops a cigarette on a lawn that somebody hasn’t been able to afford to water for the past two years, but it is almost certain that things are going to be crackling, and if we don’t all try really hard to keep our cool, things could get ugly. I am quite sure that all the organizers I have been in contact with are doing their utmost to keep this as peaceful and safe for everyone as humanly possible, while still taking a stand and getting out the message that WE WILL NOT COMPLY with these violations of human decency and Constitutional rights. The same cannot necessarily be said for the counterprotesters, who have already been going around smashing cars into the doorways of day labor centers, etc., nor for the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department, where Joe Arpaio has made it abundantly clear that he sees this as an excellent opportunity to garner yet more national media attention for his personal mission of ridding this state of illegal aliens, annoying liberal protesters, and anyone else who gets in the way of his burning ambition to vindicate his self-appointed title as the “Toughest Lawman in America.”
And now Polly must get her fat white gringa butt over to downtown Phoenix before she misses all the action. She still needs to run by Staples for posterboard and sharpies and copies of info she printed off the Internet. She may also stop on her way from Staples to I-10 the town of Guadalupe–a village populated mostly by Yaqui Indians whose people have been living and working and speaking Spanish here since long before there was either a state of Arizona or a US Constitution, which has been one of Joe Arpaio’s favorite places to go hunting for “aliens” with giant trailers full of heavily armed and masked storm troopers in recent years, since it is also a popular area for recent immigrants (both legal and illegal), since the rents are really cheap and the signs are in both Spanish and English and there’s a really good farmers market where you can get roasted chiles and jicama and nopales and other recognizable foods for much cheaper than they sell them at the Whole Foods 5 miles away.
Arpaio’s folks will probably be too busy posturing for the national media in downtown to worry about Guadalupe, so I doubt I’ll see any good action to photograph, but I’ll stop by the side of the road and see if any brown-skinned people with Spanish accents need a ride downtown. Because as of today, that is one grade-A 100% illegal class 6 misdemeanor, and therefore a bona fide act of badass civil disobedience. (Don’t worry, Ann, I’m only bringing the cheap camera, and my mom is picking up the little one from daycare, and I can’t actually fit more than 4 passengers in my Subaru, so if I do get busted, the worst that is going to happen is that I will be spending the afternoon in the Jefferson St. jail.) It is, however, far more likely that by 4pm today, I will be standing in front of that jail, rocking out to a free concert and waving my posters with all the fabulous compañeros I met last night, at what the Puente Arizona organizers have dubbed
JAILHOUSE ROCK! rally at the nearest available public property across from the county jail (Jefferson St, between 3rd and 4th Ave.), where anyone arrested by the MCSD this morning (or earlier this week who still hasn’t been released) will be probably be residing. The rest of us will be out there waving our banners and rocking out to a band on a flatbed truck and a few of us (not Polly) engaging in some non-violence direct action (mostly of the blocking car and foot traffic variety).
So vamos down into central Phoenix, ya’ll, or to whatever is happening wherever you are. Because it’s a beautiful day to stand up for human rights, the US constitution, your own personal safety, the proper utilization of your federal and state taxpayer dollars, and/or the basic principles of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you, loving they neighbor as thyself, etc., if you are into any of those crazy whacked out radical ideas.
And even if you’re not, it’s going to be quite a show! With free music!