Phoenix area anarchists kicked off the new year by calling for a march in the arts district of downtown Phoenix for the monthly "First Friday" artwalk. The call was in response to the deaths of two immigrant youths who were found in a canal after fleeing from a Maricopa County Sheriff Deputy near Gila Bend, and the murder of a third youth who was shot and killed by a Border Patrol agent while climbing the border wall in Nogales. Nearly two dozen anarchists, anti-authoritarians, and O'odham and Dine' indigenous comrades, all assembled for this unpermitted manifestation of outrage. This also being a First Friday (FF) our small group attracted the attention and participation of many in the crowds wandering between galleries and bars, as well as from the youth who often come down to FF to get out of the house, check out some art, and to flirt and meet other kids hanging out.
The march took to the streets with banners and statements against the "poliMigra," prisons, all borders and police. We shouted into the night "Out of the galleries, into the streets!" Naturally we garnered the attention of the police, not a special distinction as on any given FF they maintain a very heavy presence, even though a demonstration like this has probably not occurred in sometime, aside from an organic confrontation with the authorities a couple years back. After a few shoving matches with the Phoenix cops, the march was pushed to the sidewalks, but after losing the police, the march returned to moving in and out of the streets, throwing traffic barricades into street, and making a detour into one of the more notoriously yuppie galleries downtown. We lost some of our numbers when we marched down to the Suns game, but we also shook our police tail and were able to march in the streets unimpeded (aside from the occasional police vehicle that would pull up, use their bullhorn to tell people to get off the streets, and then drive off). We encountered the most reactionary and nationalistic sentiment of the night outside the Suns game, but we shook it off and mobbed onto a light rail train for a free ride back to the arts district.
So, what does this mean for the future? The mainstream movement voices were once again silent during this latest outrage, the "human rights movement" raised a number of eye brows around town after their total absence in any forum when young Danny Rodriguez was murdered by Phoenix cop Richard Chrisman in his mother's trailer last October. The high profile killing of this young man came amid a shit storm of corruption and brutality allegations against the Phoenix police department, specifically the notorious South Mountain precinct, but perhaps the mainstream hacks were too concerned about upsetting their friends in the mayor's office to actually hold one consistent political position. Or maybe someone should have told them there's money to be made from the non-profit industrial complex in organizing against police violence, that seems to get their attention.
What I saw in the streets the night of this march is a sight becoming increasingly common in Phoenix, a gathering of indigenous, latin@, and anarchist people ready to take to the streets and to move beyond the boundaries put forth by the mainstream immigrant movement's leadership, as well as the laws of the authorities. I believe that in these alliances lay the future for a broad based movement of resistance, built upon mutual respect and participation in confronting this system of death, repression, and incarceration until there is total freedom for all.
Below is the text of the flier handed out during the solidarity march, along with a couple more images from this procession.
Where are the voices of disbelief and anger now that SB1070 is law? Where have the crowds gone who were in the streets in the spring and summer? This writing is addressed to you who weep with clenched fists when another immigrant is found dead trekking across the desert, shot dead by a border patrol agent, or drowned in a canal after fleeing the authorities. This is to you, who tires of a political movement that demands your patience for a political solution all the while this O'odham (the indigenous people of this region) land is militarized by the border patrol, building more new checkpoints, and nothing ever gets better.
Why now, why without the responsible, reasonable movement leadership? Because it’s come to this: Three children, presumed immigrants by the state, found dead in a canal on Christmas eve, just one week before that five other immigrant brothers and sisters were discovered by the authorities, forced to conceal themselves in cow manure. Just yesterday a 17 year old Nogales resident was shot dead by a border guard on the U.S. side after climbing the border fence. Where is the outcry from the human rights activists, or even the mainstream immigrant groups?
This is a call to all those who oppose the tyranny of law and order, this cold business of institutions that place freedom and dignity underfoot to preserve power and control for the few. There will be people in the streets tonight, decrying this sick order that places property, law, and the will of a few over the lives, dreams, and freedom of human beings.
Another night of wandering the sidewalks of downtown admiring the art that lampoons Arpaio, or defends immigrants, and then home, content to believe that a moral duty has been exercised, justice against the oppressors has been served in Phoenix this First Friday. Of course we appreciate this art, but to pretend that the representation of a struggle is in fact a struggle is lunacy!
There is active solidarity, or there is complacency! Observers of art, become participants in your own life! Join us tonight as we take the streets to stand with all those murdered by the laws and institutions on this stolen indigenous land.