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.


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