Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Arizona Anti-Immigrant Law Sparks Fightback
By Paul Teitelbaum
Published Apr 24, 2010 7:11 AM
April 23 — When the Arizona Senate passed a sweeping, racist anti-immigrant bill on April 19, it unleashed a firestorm of outrage from Arizona’s oppressed communities. The bill legalizes racial profiling and criminalizes all undocumented people as “trespassers.” It also contains provisions attacking day laborers, allows for the seizure of any vehicle used to transport an undocumented person, and calls for the arrest of anyone who provides assistance to an undocumented person.
Leilani Clark arrested
for supporting justice.
Gov. Jane Brewer signed the bill into law today, April 23. It is only the first in a stream of right-wing sponsored racist bills that are working their way through the Arizona legislature.
A few days earlier, on April 15, some 800 or more Department of Homeland Security and other federal agents descended on Tucson’s oppressed communities. The feds terrorized families, stopping buses transporting children to school and setting up what amounted to a six-hour military occupation of the south side of the city.
In response to this repression, a group of nine community college students from throughout Arizona courageously chained themselves to the State Capitol building in Phoenix on April 20. The students refused to leave until Gov. Brewer vetoed the bill. The nine are calling for a national movement to employ nonviolent civil disobedience as the next phase of the Immigrant Rights Movement.
While carrying out civil disobedience, the students were arrested by Maricopa County deputies and hauled off to the jail run by the infamous anti-immigrant Country Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Now known throughout the state as the Capitol Nine, the students were released early April 21.
Leilani Clark, a Pima Community College student and member of Fight Imperialism, Stand Together (FIST), was one of the nine students arrested. She said that the struggle against Senate Bill 1070 and all of Arizona’s apartheid legislation demands a statewide and national response.
Clark encouraged everyone to take action. Speaking on behalf of the Capitol 9, Clark told Workers World, “Don’t be divided or delayed by different interpretations of how to act — just act. Walk out, protest, educate, boycott, march, sit in, carry out civil disobedience. Anything and everything. ASAP!”
In a news release published April 20, this is what the Nine said about SB 1070:
“Among other things, the bill would require law enforcement officers to investigate, detain and arrest people if there is ‘reasonable suspicion’ that a person may be undocumented. This would give police agents absolute power to racially profile on the basis of race, skin color, language, and/or accent. SB 1070 is only the latest attack that will turn Arizona into an apartheid state, where brown-skinned people are politically, legally and economically discriminated and segregated.”
Protests continue in the thousands
By the afternoon of April 20, about 100 people gathered in downtown Tucson to protest SB 1070 and to demand that the governor veto the bill. The next day, some 200 high school students walked out of class to protest the bill. There are rallies and demonstrations planned throughout the city for each of the next few days.
On April 22 thousands protested outside the Capitol in Phoenix, and other actions took place April 23 in Phoenix and Flagstaff demanding that Brewer veto the bill. Students, including many high school students, held a demonstration April 23 in Tucson, walking out of school to do it.
In their statement, the Capitol Nine explained the importance of their action: “Arizona is ground zero for apartheid legislation and it must also be ground zero for organized action. ... A people can only remain oppressed for so long before they rise from the shadows, from the margins, from oblivion. This is why today, students and community members have resorted to Nonviolent Civil Disobedience. We chain ourselves to the Arizona State Capitol because nothing else has worked. We stand for justice and reclaim democracy. Our purpose is to expose Arizona’s apartheid legislation and uphold our dignity and human rights.”
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