Tucson gathering to say ‘Tear down the walls’

Arizona activists are frontline in the battle to tear down the wall separating Indigenous and Latino/a people on either side of the U.S./Mexico border.

As many in the Southwestern states point out, the border crossed them and their ancestors when the United States stole territories belonging to Mexico in the 19th century [“We didn’t cross the border! The border crossed us!”]. But that alone is not the purpose of a historic convergence to take place in Tucson, Ariz., on Nov. 1-3.

Instead, as Alliance for Global Justice national coordinator Chuck Kaufman said in an interview this week, the gathering, called “Tear Down the Walls,” is a way to bring groups out of their “siloed” movements to talk to others about areas where their work overlaps.

But not just talk. Kaufman explained that six People’s Power Assemblies are designed to plan cross-movement collaborative actions, agreed to and executed over the next year in one day of nationally coordinated local actions. Topics include “U.S. Imperialism and Anti-Militarism,” “Drug War and Drug War Prisoners,” “Immigration and Border Militarization,” “Economic Justice,” “Ecology and Empire,” and “Anti-Repression and the Prison-Industrial Complex.”

In addition to the PPAs, 80 workshops will be packed into the three-day conference, planned by 78 national and local groups.

Instead of funding big-name speakers, Kaufman said that $20,000 was being spent “in travel subsidies to make sure there is a good diversity of geography, movements and oppressed peoples here.” As a result, “a bus is coming from the Pacific Northwest — Oregon and Washington, another bus is coming from Los Angeles and Albuquerque, there will be a caravan from Denver and quite a few people from the Occupy Wall Street universe, and lots of other places.”

More than 20 Tucson activists have volunteered their energy, skills and time to do the many tasks needed to make the conference a success.

For more information, go to www.afgj.org or find the Tear Down the Walls event page on Facebook.