Friday, April 30, 2010

Maricopa High School students protest immigration law with walkout

Hundreds of Maricopa High School students marched out of their school this morning to protest the recently approved state immigration law.

The situation began at approximately 8 a.m., said district human resources director Tom Beckett in a press release, as approximately 300 students protested Gov. Jan Brewer’s signing of Senate Bill 1070, which requires law enforcement officials to determine if a person is in the United States legally.

The students were encouraged to go back to class, but approximately 100 of the 300 students continued with the protest and left campus, said Maricopa Police Department public information officer Sgt. Stephen Judd.

A male high school student – some of the protestors referred to as their “leader” – was arrested for allegedly running into the middle of McDavid Road to stop traffic, Judd said, and was charged with disorderly conduct and disrupting the education process.

Judd said the student, who is 18, was separated and was then cited and released, and will probably have his charges rescinded.

In response to the arrest, the students then marched on city hall after one of the students was arrested, said city public information officer LaTricia Woods.

The students continued toward the Circle K near Bashas’ and proceeded to march to Maricopa Meadows along Arizona 347.

Student Jonathan Velasquez said the students were protesting the law because of how he said the bill will be enforced.

“They don’t have the right to separate families, to ruin families,” Velasquez said.

“Whites, blacks, Mexicans … everybody. We’re all people. We’re all humans. It’s not one separate race. We should all be united together.

“We finally decided to walk out today and let our voice be heard,” he added.

Other students were shouting “we’re all equal,” “land of the free,” and that the law was “against civil rights.”

During their trek up and down the sidewalk on Arizona 347, MHS sophomore Eleazar Valenzuela said reactions of passers-by were mixed.

“Maricopa is very small, so I think we could have a big impact,” he said.“We’re getting a lot of negative and positive feedback. People are flipping us off, but there are a lot of supportive people too.”

Neither the district nor the police department condemned or condoned the students’ actions, although the department did follow the students during the march.

“Our job here is to make sure they (students) stay safe and the impact for businesses and traffic is as minimal as possible,” Judd said.

He added the protest was peaceful, and that, besides the one student, no laws had been broken during the protest.

“It is absolutely their right to do that (march),” Judd said.

Multiple news outlets have reported that the bill was amended yesterday, with additions to avoid using race or ethnicity as reasons to question suspects and to include potential civil ordinance violations, such as noise, as reasons to question immigration status.

Denver: Students walk out of class in immigration protest

DENVER - Hundreds of students walked out of high schools and colleges around Denver Friday in protest of Arizona's tough new immigration.

"We all need to stand united because it might happen here too," said Francisco Estrada, a student at West High School.

Estrada was one of about 100 students who left class at West High School for a rally in Sunken Gardens Park adjacent to the school.

Some students made signs that read "Don't divide us, unite us" and "equal rights." Other students used bullhorns to call other students out of class to join the rally.

"I hope that our voices are heard," said Jose Cansino, also a West High School student who walked out.

Many of the students say though Arizona's law does not affect them, they feel connected to the issue.

"We need to show support, stand up for what we believe in," said Estrada, who said he felt attending the rally outweighed the risk of getting in trouble at school.

Around noon, about 100 to 150 Lincoln High School students took to the streets lead by police escort urging them to stay safely on the sidewalks.

Organizers with Padres & Jovenes Unidos, who said they staged the walkout as a show of support for "brothers and sisters in Arizona," are demanding immediate action to reform immigration.

Other students marched into downtown to the Capitol at about 2:30 p.m. Speeches begin at 3:30 p.m.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

LAPD officials expect crowd of up to 100,000 at immigration march on Saturday

The Los Angeles Police are preparing for as many as 100,000 marchers to rally for immigration rights in downtown Los Angeles during the annual May Day event Saturday.

LAPD officials are preparing for a surge in the number of participants in the wake of an outcry over a controversial new Arizona law that requires police to check the legal status of people they suspect of being illegal immigrants.

Deputy Chief Jose Perez Jr. said Thursday that police estimated no more than 60,000 people would participate in the May Day march to Los Angeles City Hall. But Perez said those numbers were revised after organized labor and immigrant rights groups informed authorities they expect far more people.

“We are looking for an orderly crowd," Perez said. "Organizers are also looking for an orderly crowd for this to be a success.”

Marchers are permitted to walk north on Broadway from Olympic Boulevard and eventually gather at City Hall. In addition to the downtown march, police are preparing for small gatherings in MacArthur Park and Westwood.

Perez said the department does not provide details about the number of officers it would have on hand, but said it would be a citywide maximum deployment.

The LAPD wants to avoid any repeat of the May Day 2007 melee in MacArthur Park. That year a contingent of the department’s elite Metro Division officers were videotaped wielding batons and shooting less-than-lethal rubberized bullets in an attempt to disperse the mostly peaceful crowd after a small group of agitators confronted police.

Dozens of protesters and journalists were injured as officers cleared the park. In the aftermath, the department issued a scathing report and the city settled litigation for more than $13 million.

Planning for this year’s march has been in the works for months, police said. With a tight budget the department had to insure that a massive number of officers were available to work the May 1 rally.
In this year’s planning, march organizers and other groups have expressed concern about how the LAPD will approach the marchers, who would include illegal immigrants.

Police, however, have assured marchers that the department will continue to be guided by Special 40, which prohibits officers from initiating action against people solely to discover their legal status. “It shows the fear and emotion behind this [the Arizona law], Perez said.

First established three decades ago by then-Police Chief Daryl F. Gates, the order has been embraced by Chief Charlie Beck, who calls the rule an important key to build trust and relationships with immigrant communities.

-- Richard Winton and Andrew Blankstein

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Chicago: Civil disobedience new tactic in immigration reform fight

Chanting "Illinois is not Arizona," local activists escalated their push for immigration reform today by trying to block the deportation of illegal immigrants from a federal detention center in suburban Broadview, the first of what they vowed would be a campaign of civil disobedience.

After briefly blocking a departing van, two dozen protesters were arrested on disorderly conduct charges as part of a movement energized by Arizona's passage last week of the nation's toughest law against illegal immigrants. The law allows police to single out suspected immigrants and demand proof of legal residence.

The new law -- which critics say will lead to racial profiling but proponents defend as a matter of security -- has sparked a revival of the immigration debate. In Washington, President Barack Obama called the measure "misguided" and Senate leaders have moved the issue back to the top of their agenda.

Frustrated that Obama has not acted on a promise to push for reform, activists in Chicago and elsewhere say they are planning acts of disobedience akin to sit-ins at previously scheduled marches around the country on Saturday, including a march past the White House.

In Chicago, thousands of demonstrators are expected to participate in a pro-reform march through the Loop.

"We have to escalate to another level because they have forced us," said Fabian Morales, one of those arrested and a principal organizer of Saturday's march. "We've tried to do this peacefully and have not been given a peaceful solution. We have to look for another level."

Tuesday's arrests in Broadview were planned by activists hoping to rekindle a movement that in 2007 inspired several hundred thousand people to march in the streets, sparking comparisons to the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

By midafternoon, however, the deportation of 67 Mexican nationals went ahead as scheduled, with most of the prisoners deported for criminal violations, said Gail Montenegro, spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The agency "respects the fundamental right of individuals to protest. However, despite the recent protests, ICE agents continued their operations as planned," Montenegro said in a statement.

The demonstrators numbered about 100 and included priests, rabbis, labor organizers and relatives of deported immigrants. Twenty-four of them planted themselves on the road, hoping to stop the federal bus that heads twice a week to O'Hare International Airport for scheduled deportation flights.

But the first vehicle to pull out was a Kenosha County van ferrying illegal immigrants to Wisconsin, where they also were likely to face deportation proceedings. After a 15-minute standoff, the van reversed and headed back into the detention center as the crowd cheered and chanted "no deportations today."

The demonstration was more civil than disobedient. The demonstrators, many of whom camped overnight outside the center, were taken into custody one by one without handcuffs about 7:15 a.m. They were taken to the Broadview police station, where they were charged with misdemeanors, processed and promptly released with May 24 court dates.

Holding up photos of people who already have been deported, the protestors called the Arizona law a dangerous precedent likely to foment resentment against Latino immigrants in areas of the country where frustrations over illegal immigration runs high.

"There is now a racial reign of terror spreading across the country and it has to be stopped," said Joshua Hoyt, director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and one of those arrested.

Dan Stein, president of the Washington-based Federation for American Immigration Reform, which supports tougher immigration enforcement, dismissed such talk as disingenuous.

"In the end, this is about lawlessness and security and respect for law," Stein said.

For Broadview police chief Raymond Pelletier, upholding the law Tuesday was a bit uncomfortable. Among the crowd of protesters along the mostly industrial strip of Beach Street that hosts the federal detention center were religious figures and other community leaders.

"I never wanted to arrest a priest," the chief said as an idling police wagon prepared to ferry away the demonstrators.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Immigration debate sparking lots of vandalism

High school students protest immigration law

Joy Slagowski
Today staff

More than 200 Surprise and El Mirage students from three high schools took their education from the classroom into the streets on Monday by protesting Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070.

The bill, which Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law Friday, requires immigrants to carry their alien registration documents with them at all times and requires police to question the residency status of those they suspect may be in the United States illegally.

Critics say the law will lead to racial profiling.

André Rodriguez, 15, of Surprise, a student at Valley Vista High School, said he organized the event that morning at school in reaction to student dissatisfaction about the immigration bill.

"I was born in Phoenix, and my parents are U.S. citizens," Rodriguez said. "But I’m angry because I feel they are racially profiling and it’s not right."

The group marched in Surprise and El Mirage, carrying American flags and handmade signs, starting from Valley Vista, near Surprise Stadium, stopping at Walgreen’s at Dysart and Greenway roads in El Mirage to connect with students from Arizona Charter Academy who joined the march, and then proceeded to Dysart High School, where students filed off the campus to join the march.

Passing cars honked in support, and El Mirage police officers watched to make sure protesters stayed out of the street.

Jim Dean, Dysart Unified School District spokesman, said the district does not condone missing school for a protest march, but acknowledges it is their right to exercise free speech.

"We like to have the kids in school," Dean said. "But people do have the right to gather and peacefully protest."

"Education comes in many forms, and we understand and appreciate and try to incorporate real life applications," Dean said. "And this certainly can be viewed as a type of education, but we prefer to educate them during school hours."

Rodriguez said missing school because of the protest was a concern, but felt the students were getting a different type of education today through using their rights to free speech.

"We’re still getting an education," Rodriguez said. "And if what we do can help change a law, that would be great. This feels good, like we are making a difference."

"This is our America," he said. "This is less about us, but about the future with our kids and grandkids, the future of our citizens."

Sunday, April 25, 2010

In Phoenix, thousands protest anti-immigrant law

Chanting ¡Si, se puede! waving American flags and holding signs declaring “Legalize Arizona,” approximately 4,000 people — some of whom had traveled from Texas and California for the event — gathered on the Arizona State Capitol grounds in Phoenix Sunday afternoon to protest the state’s new anti-immigration law, and to proclaim their pride in the cultural and economic contributions of the Latino community.

There was live music and prayers, but most of the afternoon was devoted to political and community leaders speaking out against SB 1070, signed into law by Republican Governor Jan Brewer on Friday.

In an interview just before he addressed the crowd, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon said he’s taking the calls for an economic boycott against the state “very seriously.”

“We’ve already had a couple of cancellations,” said the Democratic mayor, “and several calls from groups expressing concern about this bill.” Gordon said he plans on asking the City Council to initiate a lawsuit against the state government at Tuesday’s regular meeting.

Supporters claim the law will make communities safer, but Gordon says they have it backwards.

“When you force the police to check everyone’s immigration status, that’s time that they could have spent responding to calls,” said the mayor. He added that the new law will prevent victims of crimes, or witnesses, from coming forward. “There’s no reason for residents to cooperate with law enforcement if they’re afraid they’ll be arrested or deported. This law is idiotic, asinine, racist and unconstitutional.”

Lisa Magaña agrees with the mayor. An associate professor in transborder studies at Arizona State University, Magaña says the new law has been a hot topic in her classroom recently (half her students are Latino, half are not).

“[The new law] is very real for many of my students,” she said. “Most of them thought the Governor would veto it, because it’s clearly unconstitutional. So this came as a shock.”

There is an upside, Magaña says: political mobilization.

“This law will make a lot of people feel more isolated, but for others it’s a wake-up call. The GOP has been trying to court Latino voters recently. Well, that’s now destroyed.”

Where’s Obama?

Both from the speakers stage and out in the crowd, several people say they’re disappointed in President Obama’s failure to make immigration reform a higher priority before now. Still, they hope the President follows through on his earlier statement that the Justice Department may take action against the new law.

Although there was a noticeable police presence — including a few mounted law officers — the rally was peaceful. In fact, the atmosphere was festive most of the time, a stark contrast to the angry “tea-party” rallies held throughout the state earlier this year and last. There was anger here, evident in the many signs bearing swastikas and comparing Arizona to Nazi Germany, but the rhetoric, on or off stage, didn’t threaten violence.

The day ended with a prayer song performed by a man whose family has been living here since before even the Spanish arrived — let alone the newcomers — Anglos. When I talked with him after the prayer song, Kevin (he didn’t want to be identified beyond that) explained the perspective on borders and immigration that he has as a member of the Akimel O’odham/Tohono O’odham peoples:

"I don’t believe in borders. Our people live on both sides of the US-Mexican line. We never drew a line there. But they try to make us feel like criminals for traveling on our own lands. So I understand how the ‘illegal immigrants’ feel. I came here to tell them to follow their hearts like we all should. And to pray for those who are suffering."

Phoenix Insurgent: Resistance to SB1070 that you may have missed.

One of the problems with the overwhelmingly leftist orientation of the anti-SB1070 rally today, as evidenced by the seemingly unending admonitions to register to vote (for Democrats), is that it tends to obscure potential fractures and fissures on what may appear to be unanimity on the right with regard to the bill.

If you know anything about PCWC these days, it's probably that we look precisely for these kinds of potential openings in movements so that we can force open a space for more libertarian (in the traditional anarchist and anti-capitalist sense of the word) organizing, especially if we can encourage the development of contradictions that will cause a falling out on one side or another of white supremacy, and particularly amongst white movements on top of that. In our evaluation, it is the cross-class alliance of white supremacy that screws up what might otherwise be a revolutionary working class solidarity that would allow the overthrow of the capitalist state.

Anyhow, the events of the last few days have been momentous indeed, but in the rush of media attention and, as I mentioned before, due to the overwhelmingly leftist reformist orientation of the anti-SB1070 movement leadership (since they control the bulk of the message -- often with Stalinist like precision), some smaller actions have been overlooked. Here I will highlight two of them.

The first is of someone known to PCWC, and with whom we have interacted very cordially at a variety of our events, but who I won't identify since I don't know if he wants to be named. Regular attendees of PCWC actions and events will probably know him. The video linked below, taken by someone in the counter-protest on Friday, shows this person bravely moving into the reactionary crowd and calling them out vigorously for their support of the bill. In true fanatical fashion, this man begins yelling forcefully "This bill is the mark of the beast!", "Prepare for the New World Order!" and "Who would Jesus hate?!".

This is important for a few reasons. One, it comes at the right reactionaries on terrain that they are familiar with. This is something that we, as anarchists are not able to do anywhere near as effectively. Two, it opens a front on the reactionaries from their rear, hitting them in a way and from a direction that they do not expect. Three, it comes as a heartfelt and genuine defense of the true values professed by the libertarian and even Christian right, while recognizing the general tendency not to live up to them in any meaningful way.

In my opinion the disconnect that is being called out between professed Christianity and actual results derives from their adherence to white supremacist values. They defend their cross-class alliance of whiteness over their professed values of Christian love for their brother and sister, effectively. And, probably most importantly, the charges made in the video demands accountability and asserts an either/or dichotomy that attempts to erase middle ground, asserting, will you be Christian or will you hate? Will you be Christian or will you support the "mark of the beast"? This is very important because to oppose the bill in many ways contains within it the potentiality of refusing the alliance of whiteness. PCWC has spent quite a lot of effort encouraging this sort of thing and I welcome it and support it. Cheers for this revolt!

The second video is one published by Shelton at 4409. Shelton is perhaps best known amongst anarchists for his work around speed cameras. We have engaged on this front several times in the last year, encouraging their work but also being critical of pointing out what we perceive to be the unconscious white supremacist undercurrents of their strategy.

I want to be clear, this is not to say that we consider Shelton a white supremacist or anything of the sort. Even though he opposes what he calls "amnesty" for the undocumented, we believe that the racism inherent in the argument he makes is not conscious or malicious: it is the sort of white supremacy that underlies most of the assumptions that underpin white organizing in general, whether of the left or right. The flaw is not his in particular and it is important to separate it from the kind of overt racist strategy that we see being pursued by those who support the bill.

And, indeed, the arguments that Shelton has made in the past against the bill are generally pretty good although, as with the anti-SB1070 current on the left, he suffers the same problem of demanding increased policing at the border. On the left, this manifests in a demand for reform that included heightened border patrol enforcement at la linea itself. This is important for a lot of reasons, but not least of all because it sacrifices the lives of people that live on the border, specifically but not limited to the Tohono O'odham people, whose land down south is bisected by the border and who have an inherent right of travel across it. This right is currently under heavy assault by the very forces that many opponents of the bill propose to "secure" the border.

On the right the opposition to SB1070 is weakened by a similar assertion that if policing at the border were increased, then there would be less need for internal surveillance and checks on movement. Indeed, this is also the critical flaw in the libertarian/constitutionalist opposition to internal border patrol checkpoints. You can see how, ironically, these two positions, though from opposite poles of the political spectrum, suffer from the same problem. The fact is, militarization of the border must be separated from the discussion of SB1070 (and, of course, it must be opposed). If not, it remains a devil's bargain that sells some out in the name of defending others. That's not solidarity.

So, in that context, consider Shelton's interesting new video, in which he goes to the state capitol and confronts legislators on the bill and its effects. Aside from its entertaining nature, it is really informative about the kinds of opposition to this bill that could -- and sometimes does -- spread from the right. This is a tendency that I continue to believe is worth engaging with and I would be very interested in developing some sort of way of further fleshing out common ground for critical solidarity with elements of this type that are interested in challenging the bill and constraints on free movement generally (the position we defend). Of course, in the end, we will not accept any increased policing at the border because we believe in free movement for all. However, that in my opinion does not preclude the increasing investigation of points of common struggle within this milieu.

Phoenix Anarchist Actions in Response to SB1070

On Friday morning, AZ governor Jan Brewer passed the newest and perhaps most violent in a succession of racist bills, 1070.

1070 means:

It is now illegal for any person to be on public or private land (meaning in any location within the state) without carrying verification proving citizenship or legal residency.

Every person must now carry proof of legal residency at all times in Arizona,and may legally be asked by any state employed to present documentation.

It is now illegal for any person who cannot provide legal documentation to look for employment or to be employed in the state of Arizona.

1070 makes no bones about it: the bill is one of the most honest in demonstrating the progression of Arizona into the furthest depths of a Police State, and of the racism that necessitates it.

Phoenix area anarchists were quick to respond- in a matter of 2 days, a multitude of actions were organized around bringing the conflict more visibly to the streets of Phoenix (for the mainstream unaware of how issues of state racism and indigenous colonialism affect everyone).

With black flags, signs, and banners, a march of approximately 40 anarchists proceeded South on Central Avenue towards Van Buren. Pedestrians cheered as the group approached. The street, artistically peppered with messages of resistance- stickers, paintings and the like- became a ground for insurrectionary conflict as the loud cadre erected a border wall across Central Avenue: “DO NOT CROSS: VIOLATORS MIGHT GET FREE".

The business district was an obstacle course as drivers and passersby were forced to negotiate the obstruction of their space and the impediment of their movement- a burden placed daily on the shoulders of the indigenous whose land has been militarized and the undocumented- hunted daily.

As the public on Van Buren at Central were left to respond to the ruptures that their political complicity facilitated, the group rambunctiously proceeded along Van Buren to third street. “No Borders; No Nations; No Police Stations!” Chants rung about the cold concrete high rises as police suddenly and forcefully halted the march. Throwing marchers to the ground and threatening them with tasers and mace, the pigs detained the majority of march participants. The police demanded the names and birth dates of all detained at the threat of mass arrest. After approximately forty minutes all were released without charges or citation, except for one comrade who was arrested for “obstructing justice by not giving his true name”; a fabricated accusation.

Demonstrations this past week indicate an escalation in radical protest and dissent that will not be ameliorated by any form of legislation or representative polity. The popular resistance in Arizona thus identifies with anarchist principles, and Arizona anarchists locate themselves fittingly within a timely social war for total liberation.

Arizona: attack! Let’s get free.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Protesters decry AZ bill at Nogales, Sonora rally

By Jonathan Clark
Nogales International

Waving banners that said “We are border residents, not criminals,” and encouraged by the approving honks of passing motorists, people from both sides of the border raised their voices against Arizona’s tough new immigration bill at a protest Tuesday in Nogales, Sonora.

“At this very moment, the Arizona Legislature is passing a law that is completely against us as migrants, as Mexicans and as Latin Americans,” Nogales, Ariz., resident Gustavo Lozano told the approximately 40 protesters – many of them recently deported migrants – who gathered just south of the Dennis DeConcini Port of Entry.

“We are here to send a message to the elected officials of Arizona that we reject this law that criminalizes all of us.”

The gathering was part of a series of protests against the measure that stretched from Phoenix to Tucson and Nogales, Sonora on Tuesday, the day after it was approved by the state Senate. No similar protests were visible in Nogales, Ariz.

The bill, which now awaits Gov. Jan Brewer’s signature, would make illegal immigration a state crime and would require local police to ask people about their immigration status when there are reasonable grounds for suspicion.

Advocates of the plan say it will allow the state to address a problem that the federal government has failed to confront. Opponents, such as those at Tuesday’s protest, say it will promote discrimination and other rights abuses, and foment fear in immigrant communities.

Nogales, Ariz., resident Salvador Flores, spokesman for the civil rights advocacy group Fronteras Desiguales (Unequal Borders), said the fact that local police are not trained in immigration enforcement could cause them to consider a person’s physical characteristics as an indicator of immigration status.

“We feel that it will be a case of racial profiling, and that’s called discrimination,” Flores said, as the protesters around him struck up a chant of “Frontera, escucha, el pueblo esta en la lucha “ (“Listen, border, the people have joined the struggle.”)

Others, such as Sister Maria en Gracia Robles, a member of the Catholic migrant aid charity Iniciativa Kino Binacional para la Frontera (Kino Binational Border Initiative), worry that the law will result in more migrant deaths and give border-crossers more reason to fear.

“Migrants go (to the United States) because of hunger, because they want to work, and they are not going to stop because of this law,” she said. “But there are going to be more deaths in the desert because they are going to go by more dangerous, more isolated routes.”

Robles said the new law would further damage Arizona’s image among Mexicans, making it look like a “Hitler-esque state.”

Protester Gerardo Lozano, a 32-year-old Chevrolet employee from Nogales, Sonora, warned that the law will be an insult to Sonorans who support the Arizona economy by crossing the border legally to shop, but who may now face increased scrutiny over their immigration status.

Lozano, whose border-crossing card recently expired, wondered if it was worth the trouble to renew it.

“I have family on the other side, and that’s the only reason now for me to renew it,” he said.

“If they weren’t there, I would have no reason.”

Tucson: Wandering rally continues downtown

Several hundred people protesting the state's immigration law are moving from the state building downtown to Armory Park and apparently back again.

Most of the crowd, estimated to be about 400 people, are young adults and teens. Many gathered at the state building after walkouts earlier in the day at schools that include Pueblo, Cholla, Catalina and Rincon.

TUSD officials said today they estimate some 200 students from those school took part in the walkouts. The size of the crowd has fluctuated and may grow at a separate protest is planned this afternoon.

The protest has been peacefu. Several police officers gathered near the Tucson Convention Center, out of view from the protest. Granada Avenue was closed for much of the day, causing traffic to back up on West Congress Street. It reopened this afternoon.

This is the second large protest young people have held this week at the state building. A handful of counter protesters were also there.

Small Riot Breaks Out at Immigration Protest

Truckers plan boycott over Arizona immigration law

WASHINGTON - Two or three times a week, truck driver Jesus Serrano hauls loads of Mexican-grown produce from warehouses in Nogales, Ariz., which is just across the U.S.-Mexico border, to distribution centers in Los Angeles.

Serrano plans to stop making the trip now that Arizona Republican Gov. Jan Brewer has signed a stringent anti-illegal immigration bill into law, however, and he has recruited other truckers to join him.

Serrano, the independent owner-operator of a Los Angeles-based trucking company, said that about 70 drivers based in California and Arizona had agreed to stop moving loads into or out of Arizona in protest of the new law. He hopes to get 200 truckers on board for a five-day boycott that will start within 48 hours of the bill's signing.

Brewer signed the bill Friday, over protests from groups that are concerned about potential racial profiling and other issues. The Arizona Senate had passed the measure Monday after the state House of Representatives OK'd it last week.

The law will require police to check the immigration status of anyone they have "reasonable suspicion" to think might be in the country illegally.

As a U.S. citizen of Mexican descent, Serrano said, he was disturbed when he heard last week that the Arizona House had passed the bill. He began talking to other independent truckers who drive the Nogales-to-Los Angeles circuit, and they planned the boycott over CB radios, on cell phones and at truck stops, Serrano said.

"We're Hispanic; we're Mexican. We've been saying, Are we going to be getting stopped on our way to the store when we're walking to get lunch somewhere?' " Serrano said.

About 40 percent of the Mexican-grown produce that's consumed in North America comes through Nogales, according to Amy Adams, a spokeswoman with the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas. Serrano said that a revolt among independent truckers would create backlogs in moving that produce out of Nogales warehouses.

However, Collin Stewart, the chairman of the Arizona Trucking Association, hadn't heard of the boycott plans and said he wouldn't expect what he described as a "CB radio revolt" by independent owner-operators to affect distribution significantly.

"I would not imagine there would be any kind of major reduction in the flow or volume of freight," he said. "Usually these things are relegated to a small group of individuals. The immigration debate is a hot topic in Arizona right now, but it always is."

On the other hand, Jaime Chamberlain, the owner of two Nogales-based distribution businesses and the incoming chairman of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, said that a boycott by 70 truckers could have a significant impact on freight rates, which would translate into higher prices. He also thought the state would take an economic hit from lost sales revenue.

"If there are truckers who do feel that this is not a good bill and not a good law, and if they refuse to drive through the state of Arizona, that's not good for Arizona, because every single one of these truckers spends money in our state," he said.

Brewer's office didn't respond to requests for comment on the truckers' boycott. At a news conference Friday when she signed the bill, the governor said it wouldn't bring about racial profiling.

The Arizona bill has stirred a national debate, including among the state's representatives in Congress. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., publicly supported the measure this week, while Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., decried the bill and called for businesses across the country to boycott Arizona if it became law.

President Barack Obama added his voice to the debate Friday, calling the measure misguided.

Video from attack on racists

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Arizona immigration bill: H.S. students leave school to join Capitol protest

Crowds began to dwindle at the Capitol Thursday evening after upwards of 2,000 students from high schools across Phoenix walked out of school to protest with other activists, all urging Gov. Jan Brewer to veto the immigration bill.

Protesters swelled in front of the Capitol as people converged to rally against Senate Bill 1070 during the day. Some came from as far away as California.

The size of the crowd grew over the course of the afternoon, and estimates by Phoenix police and media varied between 1,500 and about 2,000. By about 5 p.m., most of the crowd had dispersed, but a new wave of about 50 to 100 protesters arrived from Carl Hayden Community High School.

During the day, some of the protesters marched around the building, chanting, "Si se puede," or "We can do it." They were joined by 56 members of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, who arrived by bus.

The gathering was at times boisterous and for the most part civil. One of about a dozen counterprotesters got into a minor scuffle with the crowd.

More than a dozen media outlets covered the event, including CNN and a TV station from Southern California, and the estimated 20 news vans and trucks parked along a cordoned-off area of 17th Avenue.

"We're U.S. citizens; we were born here," said Jessica Perez, a Tolleson High School student. "It's not right that they separate us from our parents."

Many students heard about the protest by word of mouth.

"I was about to go to my next class, and everyone started going out," said Junior Reyes, a Metro Tech High School student. "So we got together and came."

The students said their voices need to be heard, even if they aren't old enough to vote. They said their goal was to protect their family and friends from possible racial profiling.

The Reform Immigration for America campaign leaders have been outside the Capitol since Monday morning. They've slept outdoors and spent hours praying.

"We feel that we're definitely here for the community," said Alicia Contreras, a volunteer leader for the group. "We're meeting here in prayer and peaceful action."

Though the group was organized, Contreras says people have been coming just by word of mouth. "We've been talking to individuals, and if you tell one person, they tell 10. This is their way of showing what they feel. The reason the students are here is they will inherit the future that comes with this bill."

One teen arrived wearing a sombrero and carrying a Mexican flag. A crowd of 15 to 20 people, led by Alfredo Aparicio, approached him and persuaded the youth to put away the items.

Said Aparicio, "We're all here for the American dream. That's what we're following. They should be wearing the American flag."

Students came from Tolleson High School, Phoenix Trevor Browne High School, Cesar Chavez High School, Carl Hayden High School, Metro Tech High School, North High School and possibly more.

Most of the students were in the Phoenix Union High School District. District officials said they did not encourage the walkout.

"Walking away from the very institute that accepts all students regardless of race or national origin is not wise," said Craig Pletenik, the community relations manager. "It is this type of behavior that sends a negative message."

Apparently, the faculty had received word about the march through text messages and Facebook.

"We have informed the students and their parents that there will be consequences," Pletenik said. "Phoenix Union High School District does not condone this.

"It's personal and emotional for a lot of our kids. But it's sometimes it also becomes an excuse to ditch school," Pletenik said.

About 260 students from Tolleson Union High School District participated in the walk-out, which is about 3 percent of the district's student, district spokesperson Karyn Morse Eubanks said.

"The students, they get wrapped up in a cause and the emotions are high," she said. "We don't want to discourage students from experiencing those types of emotions and participating in the government process but you know it's not a school issues and they shouldn't make it one."

Eubanks said some campuses had no students leave school and most of the participating students were from Tolleson Union High School, the district's oldest campus.

At mid-afternoon, members of the LA-based Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights arrived by bus. They said they came to lend solidarity to what they see as a human-rights fight.

"It's beyond an immigration issue. It's beyond a color issue. It's a human issue for us," Jhon Tesoro, 25, Hollywood. "We would do it for any group of people under attack."

Tesoro said the group plans to leave for California around midnight.

Republic reporters Sadie Jo Smokey, Emily Gersema, Mary Beth Faller, Jeffrey Javier, Megan Gordon, Kerry Fehr Snyder, Ofelia Madrid and staff assistant Taulleto Rodriguez contributed to the report.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Students Arrested: A Review of the Leftist Protest at the Arizona State Capital, tactics, and the SB1070 9

We rate the tactics and actions which took place at the Arizona State Capital on April 20th by giving them 2 stars out of 5.

One star for doing more than holding signs and one star for effort. That being said, these actions are rife with inconsistencies and time will only tell, but we predict a ‘flop’. What follows is a review of the actions, implications, and discussions regarding the Protest and Arrest of 9 individuals at the Arizona State Capital. Those arrested are now given the moniker the SB1070 9.

The 9 arrested for chaining themselves to the Arizona Capital Museum performed their roles with passion, sitting pensively and meekly, reveling in passive inaction. That asshole Stephen “Two-Face” Lemons documents their performance as:waiting to be taken away. This display essentially misses the mark: chaining themselves to a door, ensuring a swift ticket to jail, while creating little disruption. Here we would like to interject that many of us, if asked, are more willing to support those who shoplift more than those who get arrested for performing civil disobedience. At least the shoplifter is putting herself at risk, and not taking questionably legal action, while simultaneously having a lawyer set up, the press around, and Copwatch to make sure everyone has a comfortable ride to jail. We only support the SB1070 9 because we are against all prisons, all laws, and all confining apparatuses.

Martyrdom is so passé, if you want to know the truth. While it may have been more eye and media-grabbing than complacently holding a sign, it had the same outcome. By the end of the day, they are not seen as a threat and very few care. Additionally, all of the 9 had lawyers set up when they eventually were carted off to jail and swiftly released. Such miniscule disruption incited moderate media coverage and a very little headache to the authorities, while those arrested stolidly traipsed to their incarceration. People and politicians don’t care how much anyone pleads out of desperation, how many signatures anyone has, or how pathetic anyone looks sitting in front of a building chained to the doors. It is a sign of defeat, demonstrating that they have nothing left to fight with. ...However what can we expect from a bunch of Leftists, who are practically defined by their defeatist and depressive orientation toward action and politics.

Leaving behind the tactic itself for a second, (we’ll be back to a discussion of tactics soon) the motivation behind chaining themselves to the Capital Museum was to grovel at the vile high heels of Governor Jan Brewer. Calls for Brewer to veto the bill SB 1070 can be heard in any video depicting the event. We are not entirely familiar with Ms. Brewer’s character, however, if she falls in line with most politicians she probably thought the begging was quaint, and reminiscent of an image of a previous time of Civil Disobedience... and then she went back to eating her lunch planning on signing the Bill just as soon as she can. This demonstrates that obviously the Left is running out of politicians to plead with. On the notion of Civil Disobedience, it is an outdated and impotent display, put on by those too afraid to actually go to war. That is not to say that it is ineffective all the time, it works sometimes, however, it only works side by side with violent attacks against infrastructure and capital, and only works to ameliorate a small degree of oppression, and not destroy all of it. Additionally, it saddens us that students with radical leanings, like the SB1070 9, are being coopted by Leftist and Reformist groups.

Back on the notion of tactics, we feel inclined to criticize these actions, because as anarchists, our tactics are criticized all the time. For once we would like to say: “a bunch of ‘self proclaimed’ advocates of non-violent civil disobedience showed up and ruined things for everyone!” Thus, if a fight is going to go down regarding tactics, as it most certainly will, we’d like to throw the first punch: non-violent civil disobedience is passive and defeatist and a waste of time.

With that out of the way, we can agree that a real diversity of tactics is what we all want. Some permutation between tactics garners all the advantages of one tactic without the disadvantages excluding the other tactic. Ultimately we respect what others do, and ask for similar respect. We’ll be ok with your civil disobedience, if you’ll be ok when we start smashing things.

Next, we feel that certain groups, sadly even anarchists too, have fallen into the trap of condoning the SB1070 9’s actions merely because they were done. We must refuse the desire to condone action simply because it happened. This plays into the logic of “at least something was done” which is at best, a defensive claim, and at worst, impotent and a waste of time.

Finally, to those who got arrested or are willing to put themselves at risk of arrest, we admire your passion. It is a brilliant departure from the disgusting malaise that society currently suffers.

That being said, if the passion burns hot enough, we suggest that there are more effective avenues to pursue. First off is the notion of ‘attack’. Such racist legislation legitimates an all out War against the established order. Anything less than a War would be complicit with racist laws and the accelerating degree of oppression. In the midst of War, we attack, we do not put hopes in symbolic arrests, and march into our enemies jaws naked and unarmed.

We, speaking for ourselves, are at War. Do what you will. You will probably not hear too much from us in writing in the future...we will be too busy fighting and taking action.

Not JUST No SB 1070,

NO Borders, NO Empire.


With love, forever irreverent,

The Bad Anarchists of Phoenix.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Some thoughts on SB1070 & civil disobedience

by Jon Riley

Solidarity to the 40 Tucson High students who walked out of class, and to the 9 students arrested at the state capitol yesterday!

Our hats are off to all the youth who took courageous acts today, it is inspiring to see resistance to SB1070, a piece of legislation that has passed the Arizona Legislature, and is waiting for final approval this week by Governor Brewer. This bill was drafted by the notorious anti-immigrant bigot, and state senator, Russell Pearce. Pearce continues to push for legislation that could take Arizona back to something that would only resemble the worst days of the segregation south. In essence, if SB1070 is passed, the state of Arizona will have state sanctioned racial profiling, white supremacists like Pearce are counting on this bill to intimidate much of the Hispanic population so that they would move out of state. This is state sanctioned ethnic cleansing. This one's a game changer.

This wasn't lost upon the nine people who chained themselves to doors at the state capitol today, the most dramatic escalation taken by those in power was met with a response from those below. More than a symbolic gesture, maybe more of a declaration, the immigrant movement in Phoenix took a big step forward today, birthing a civil disobedience campaign that will organize against and oppose the continuing racist assault.

We see this attack on immigrants and communities of color in the cities mirrored in the century old border controls and movement restrictions that the Tohono O'odham people continue to resist on their traditional homeland. Just to travel home, from a village on one side of the border to a village on the other side becomes a life or death situation. IDs are mandatory, profiling is a daily occurrence, the agents of state have their finger on the trigger guard and their eyes on you. How much different will anywhere else be in Arizona if this bill passes? This picture will become more clear everywhere, as the city cop checks for "papers" in Mesa, the border patrol agent in Sells mans a checkpoint, and ICE agents conduct workplace raids in Flagstaff. The struggles that have been isolated, or hidden to each other for too long are finding each other now, only as the attack on human freedom and dignity becomes total.

Lately, we at PCWC have had a saying about this bill, that if is signed into law it will be "the end of politics," this is the end of the debate as far as we're concerned. Unlike a conflict in politics, there's no debate with the law, should we hold onto the illusion that the voice of struggle holds sway in the police station, courtroom, capitol, mayor's office, or white house?

To be sure, this is a dark time, terror lingers on across Arizona these nights, and surely worse will come. Not all is lost though, and these words from a Greek comrade may be of use in these desperate times. "Action dries your tears," he said, and there's always a place for action in our lives.