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Resistance grows to racist Arizona law

Youth, immigrants, indigenous lead marches, sit-ins, boycotts

Published May 26, 2010 2:59 PM

Momentum is growing for the national march to stop SB 1070 to be held May 29 in Phoenix. The march will demand the repeal of SB 1070, Arizona’s “Show me your papers” law, and an end to racist immigrant-bashing and the blaming of immigrants for economic and social problems which in reality result from the capitalist economic crisis.

The march to the state Capitol and rally will be followed up on May 30 with community forums and strategy sessions on building a fightback movement against the racist offensive. In the wake of Arizona’s SB 1070, at least 10 other states are now poised to introduce similar laws.

SB 1070’s passage by the state Legislature in late April unleashed an endless storm of protest and resistance. The “Boycott Arizona!” campaign continues to grow and the Arizona bosses have already felt the impact. Gov. Jan Brewer is scrambling to “change Arizona’s image” and has created a task force charged with responding to the boycott. (azcentral.com, May 13)

The Arizona Diamondbacks, whose owners are major contributors to the coffers of those who pushed this law, are met with protests in every city they visit. Intense pressure continues to mount as demands are being made on Major League baseball to move the 2011 All-Star game out of Phoenix.

In the streets of Tucson protests continue. With the passage of anti-ethnic studies law HB 2281, student protesters continue to hold demonstrations and sit-ins demanding the right to learn their own history. On May 17 a group of openly undocumented students staged a sit-in at Sen. John McCain’s office to demand passage of the DREAM Act, a stalled congressional proposal that would offer legalization for some undocumented youth.

The students defiantly announced their status as undocumented and refused to leave McCain’s office until he pushed for passage of the DREAM Act. The students were arrested and risk deportation, but their action sparked similar actions by students in California, New York and other places.

On May 21, Indigenous activists from the Tohono O’odham Nation occupied the Tucson Border Patrol headquarters located on the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. The activists chained themselves to structures in the Border Patrol office and disrupted operations there as they brought attention to the continuing war against Native peoples and the disregard for national sovereignty and Indigenous culture being waged by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The Tohono O’odham Nation is located in southern Arizona and extends into Mexico. For centuries the O’odham people have lived on and walked this land, long before there even was a U.S. or Mexico or a border of any type. DHS decided to extend the border wall separating Mexico from the U.S. through O’odham land, effectively cutting the nation in half. Additionally, the three roads on the U.S. side that provide access to the nation all have checkpoints and federal agents swarm the area. The militarization of Indigenous lands and the intrusion and harassment by federal agents has become intolerable.

Courageous actions like these are going to continue. Calls for “Freedom Summer Arizona” are attracting support as activists across the country plot out a strategy for galvanizing all those affected and their supporters into a unified, militant movement that can defeat SB 1070 and the entire racist, anti-immigrant, right-wing agenda which produced SB 1070.

Teitelbaum is a coordinator of the Tucson May 1st Coalition for Worker and Immigrant Rights.