Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Border Patrol 6 prepare for trial and call for resistance, as the Arpaio 5 cases come to an end

The six people who locked down at the Tucson sector Border Patrol headquarters last May, demanding the end of border militarization amongst many other anti-border demands, are fighting their charges and calling for additional action. While their trial kicks off in Tucson tomorrow, there will be a concert benefiting the Border Patrol 6 (BP6) organized by the comrades from the Border Opposition Action Fund to be held at the Dry River Radical Resource Center tonight featuring bands and speakers.

The BP6 are also asking for people to join them this week at the opening of their trial at 2PM on Wednesday, February 23 at the Tucson City Court, located at 103 E. Alameda St. Tucson, AZ. Their will be a solidarity presence that will be meeting up at the Joel D. Valdez Pima County Public Library (101 North Stone Avenue, Tucson, AZ) at 1:30 PM for a rally and march to the city court. The event organizers are requesting that people interested in attending the rally bring signs and banners, instruments and other noise-makers, and comfortable walking shoes.

In addition to the calls for solidarity at the trial, the BP6 issued a statement earlier this month in which they announced their decision to take their trespassing cases to trial. Along with this information they included a series of demands so vast that they aren't so much demands to be answered by the federal government, but rather giving direction to those struggling against border militarization, as if to say "these are the steps to take for the dissolution of the national territorial boundary along the southwestern United States." Thoroughly anti-colonial, it addresses the necessity of free movement for O'odham people, the original inhabitants of this occupied territory, but it doesn't end there.

Yes, the border wall suffocates the O'odham communities on the other side of the border line, but O'odham people also suffer through the manned checkpoints, the camera eyes of the aerial drones, and the disturbance of cultural practices and sacred sites caused by the Border Patrol and its agents. However, the O'odham do not suffer alone, nor do they resist alone. Hundreds of miles east of the southern Arizona borderlands, there are Lipan Apache grassroots efforts resisting the same imposition of the border wall and subsequent militarization in their own traditional lands.

The authors of the BP6 trial statement didn't have a narrow definition of solidarity in mind when they wrote this document. Instead of calling for a single solidarity rally to correspond with their trial, the BP6 are saying that the best way to show solidarity with them is to take action against the systems of control and domination behind the border apparatus. One of the things I really liked about the call for solidarity is that it links the state's attacks on migrants through legislation and criminalization, the federally granted police powers for cops to terrorize and racially profile communities of color, and the militarization of indigenous lands by the military and federal police agencies as equal parts of the ongoing colonial attack on non-white people in the southwest.

The occupation of the border patrol lobby placed the struggle against borders not as a component of the mainstream immigrant movement and the fight against SB 1070, but rather that the movement in defense of immigrants is situated within the centuries old resistance to colonialism from the indigenous peoples of Arizona. Similarly, as it was pointed out in the DOA statement last year:
We recognize what appears to be an unending historical condition of forced removal here in the Southwestern so-called US. From the murdering of O'odham Peoples and stealing of their lands for the development of what is now known as the metropolitan Phoenix area, to the ongoing forced relocation of more than 14,000 Diné who have been uprooted for the extraction of natural resources just hours north of here, we recognize that this is not a condition that we must accept, it is a system that will continue to attack us unless we act.

Whether we are migrants deported for seeking to organize our own lives (first forced to migrate to a hostile country for work) or working class families foreclosed from our houses, we see the same forces at work. Indeed, in many cases the agents of these injustices are one and the same.

We wish our friends and comrades luck this week as they travel to Tucson to face these charges. Drop all charges against the BP6, free movement for all!

A final update on the Arpaio 5

As another resistance trial begins, the final two cases of the five valley anti-authoritarians and anarchists who were arrested at last year's anti-Arpaio march have finally come to an end. Both Claire and Garyn chose to take their cases to trial, they were tried in a bench trial (no sitting jury, just the judge), and were correct to be confident in their ability to walk away with a "not guilty" decision from the judge. We at PCWC were very happy to hear that our comrades left the courtroom victorious, over a year after their arrests, the state's flimsy case against Claire and Garyn fell apart in under two days of testimony.

As any witness to the police attack at last year's January 16 demonstration can attest, the undercover cops and uniformed snatch squads made arbitrary arrests as they moved through the clouds of pepper spray grabbing who they could. Through the heavy doses of pepper spray it was just as clear that the police had a political motivation in attacking and isolating the militant section of the march, creating a lasting rift between sections of the mainstream movement and those critical of the movement's leadership and strategy.

Perhaps one of the biggest disappointments to come out of the events on January 16 was the manner with which Phoenix New Times columnist Stephen Lemons portrayed the police attack. As I recall, Lemons penned three separate blog entries on the attack, in the first two posts he attempts out the details from a few protesters interviewed and puts some video up, but in the third post he claimed to have seen video footage that conclusively showed an anarchist attack one of the mounted officer who rode into the march. In two of the screen shots posted he specifically noted a demonstrator with a green hoodie who Lemons claimed was attacking the horse. What's interesting is that the video in which Lemons grabbed the screen shot, and claimed to see a person wearing a green hoodie attack the police horse is the very same video that got the person in the green hoodie's case dismissed. It only looks like he's shoving the horse because he was being tackled by a Phoenix cop from behind, something that a single screen shot doesn't show. Where was the screen shot half a second later that showed the Phoenix cop behind him? Why did Lemons want to paint a picture that said anarchists are at fault, whether or not some were acting in self-defense to a coordinated police attack. In addition, where's the follow up article(s) on the not guilty/case dismissal of three of the five arrested?

There's no doubt that Lemons has contributed some valuable reporting on the immigrant movement, and the battles against the rightwing populists of the Phoenix metro area. When the mainstream movement hacks totally ignored the BP6 lockdown and occupation, Lemons wrote glowing praise for those involved, and wrote that he hoped their acts would inspire others. He's written of a number of anarchist actions in solidarity with migrants, or opposing anti-immigrant racists, even though anarchists weren't mentioned by name. We know he likes it when anarchists and anti-racists gave the nazi hell! Hell, he even gave a shoutout on his New Times blog to a fundraising effort we initiated for the BP6.

So rather than enter into a debate with Lemons on the merits of writing an entry on supporting the "good anarchists" whose cases were thrown out, or why the I'd say the "bad anarchists" were never bad, I'd like to draw from an inspiring slogan I was introduced to at the last Beer & Revolution, along with one of my favorite photos from the January 16 DOA contingent. After the years of repression, frame ups, and state attacks from police, our Chilean anarchist comrades have managed to capture in one concise sentence the tension that exists when the actions of a movement in resistance brings imprisonment, and how this resistance is justified to the rest of society. Quite simply:

"We're not innocent, we're not guilty, we're your enemies"

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