Sunday, January 17, 2010

Phoenix PD attack protesters at anti-Arpaio March

from: firesneverextinguished blog

We couldn't agree with Sal Reza more when he says, "There was provocation by some groups who came here for their own purpose to disrupt a peaceful march." We know he isn't talking about us, because Tonatierra invited members of the Diné, O'odham, anarchist/anti-authoritarian bloc on stage to speak at the rally at Falcon Park.

So, who is the outside faction Sal's talking about? In our opinion it must be the Phoenix Police. Unprovoked, a female officer on horseback (who later covered her name on her uniform) charged her horse headlong into the march, colliding with several people and in the process almost running over at least one child in a stroller. After attacking families and protesters, she then whipped out her pepper spray and let loose on the whole crowd, who fled the noxious spew. In the process, children were blasted with pepper spray.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Call for Diné, O'odham, anarchist/anti-authoritarian Bloc

Please view the call for the Diné, O'odham, anarchist/anti-authoritarian Bloc here.

An excerpt:
What is the DO@ bloc?
We are an autonomous, anti-capitalist force that demands free movement and an end to forced dislocations for all people. We challenge with equal force both the systems of control that seek to occupy and split our lands in two as well as the organized commodification of every day life that reduces the definition of freedom to what can be produced and sold where and to whom, and compels our social relations to bend to the very same pathetic formula of production and consumption. Capital seeks to desecrate everything sacred. We hold lives over laws and human relations over commodity relations.

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.

And check out the info on the same page about the show taking place afterwards where you can hear speakers addressing these and other issues.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Response to "American Law Enforcement Must Demand the Removal of Sheriff Arpaio from Duty"

I came across this article linked on facebook, and decided to comment on it real quick. Since my comment is still awaiting moderation the following morning and i see it cross-posted across facebook, i figured i'd post my comment here in the meantime. I would write more, but i have to be off to work soon.

i’m sorry, but this is rather silly to me. it is the unwritten job of the police to enforce the color line and to undermine dissent. i somewhat understand the point of publishing a seemingly liberal cop’s view on the sheriff, but i don’t buy the bad apple theory. the role of the police was based partly on slave patrols and has not backed down on putting people of color in prisons. just look at the numbers. i highly doubt that the admins of this website believe that people of color tend to to commit more crime in general? or worse crimes than those white collar folks out there? (i suggest reading “our enemies in blue” by kristian williams for lots of solid info on the cops.

the sheriff is not the only problem. we have a horrible racist senator who is looking to pass some anti-immigrant legislation, on top of city (as opposed to the county) police departments that arrest more migrants- they just don’t flaunt it for the cameras. on top of that we have all these racist groups ranging from the nsm to the minutemen to the tea party people who are actually protesting the arpaio march this weekend. think of all the people who passed the anti-immigrant legislation in the last few years, along with re-electing arpaio. concentrating on arpaio marginalizes this reality. what happens when arpaio is gone? we still have border militarization and detention centers and border deaths and hate crimes. anyway, i wrote a bit on this in one of my last blog posts if anyone wants to check it out.

Further reading: The Civil Rights Movement's Lessons for Anti-Arpaio March, Race and the Rule of Law in Maricopa County, What Happens When Arpaio Serves The Warrants, Racial Profiling Focus is Distraction, Freedom, not Reform: If we don’t demand it, it can’t happen, No Borders or Prison Walls, If Phx and Mesa PD are arresting more immigrants, why is focus on Arpaio?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Update on "Save our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhood Act"

This is probably more important to oppose than Arpaio right now. We need to be prepared for these bills to likely pass, especially if they get on the ballot.

Excerpt of newsletter from Russell Pearce from Prison Abolitionist (see this link for sponsors of this bill)


1. Illegal Sanctuary Policies: Eliminate ALL sanctuary cities in this state and allow legal citizens the right to sue their government for violating this law.

2. Trespass: Makes entering or remaining in Arizona in violation of federal law a state crime and "allows" law enforcement to arrest them on trespass violation or just call ICE to take them and deport them. (law enforcement's choice). This allows them to hold those that are being investigated for serious crimes and not have deported before the investigation is completed.

3. Day Laborer Enforcement: Makes it illegal for an illegal alien to solicit work (day laborers) and makes a misdemeanor for anyone with a license to do business in Arizona to pick up any day laborer without filling out a employment application. Makes it a state crime to aid, harbor, conceal transport or attempt to aid, harbor, conceal or transport an illegal alien for work with a mandatory impoundment of their vehicle under 28-3511 for 30 days. Also adds a mandatory $1000 fine per illegal alien being transported.

Closing our borders is a must; however it must be coupled with interior enforcement. Attrition by enforcement. Strict enforcement. It is time to renew our efforts to end ALL sanctuary policies in our states and our nation: Require officials to fully enforce federal immigration laws of the United States. NO MORE TAXPAYER BENEFITS OF ANY KIND, No Amnesty, No retreat, No surrender. We will take back America one state at a time. It starts here!!!!!

• 8 USC Sec. 1325: (ILLEGAL ENTRY)
• 8 USC Sec. 1324: (Hiring an ILLEGAL)
• 8 USC Sec. 1644: ("No local ordinance, rule, or measure shall stop law enforcement officers from enforcement of this section")
"Any person who knowingly hires/harbors/transports any illegal alien is guilty of a felony punishable by:
• 10 years in prison
• $2000 fine per illegal alien
• Forfeiture of the vehicle or property used to commit the crime."

"All officers whose duty it is to enforce criminal laws shall have authority to make arrests for a violation of any provision of this section" (affirmed US v Perez-Gonzalez 2002 Fed App 0360, 6th Circ.).

"We Don't Need No 'Stinkin' 287g;” Local Law Enforcements Has Inherent Authority to Enforce Immigration Law:

Today we will take the "political handcuffs off from our law enforcement officers;" the only reasons our immigration laws are not enforced are Political, not a lack of Authority.

This Citizens Initiative will pass by 70% to 80% by the voters. The last four (4) Propositions I placed on the ballot in '06 passed by an average of 75%.

In accordance with the Unanimous endorsement of a Resolution by the State Republican Party and the Maricopa County Republican Party at their annual organizational meetings with over 800 PC's present at each meeting, and in order to support our citizens Constitutional right to have our laws enforced and recognizing the damage in cost in crime and dollars to Arizona citizens and taxpayers; We demand the end to all "Catch and Release" policies in the state of Arizona and further we will be filing a Citizens Initiative to remove/end all sanctuary policies in the state of Arizona. No more Catch & Release. We the legal and lawful citizens demand the enforcement of our laws.

I will introduce this legislation and hope to get it out of the legislature within the first two weeks of Session: I believe I have the commitments from legislators and the Governor to make this happen. I will need everyone's help. We need to contact every single legislator and encourage them to support this legislation. You can use to contact all the Legislators at once.

If the legislature will not support our law enforcement and citizens we will file The Citizens Initiative, to make sure the people have the last say. So let us put most of our energy in this effort in getting the bill passed out of the legislature and signed by the Governor. This is critical legislation for Arizona and the nation as we lead the nation in our efforts and over 30 states are modeling legislation after us. Let's Take Back America One State at a Time!!!!!

The burden of blind-eye police department policies and open-border philosophies were paid for with the lives of not only our police officers throughout our state. The danger clearly spread beyond law enforcement into our communities with more lives being lost. The quality of life in our state is being sacrificed for political correctness.


Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Civil Rights Movement's Lessons for Anti-Arpaio March

"Not since the days of Bull Connor has this country seen a public official abuse his authority in order to terrorize and intimidate communities based on the color of their skin," states a call for the big January 16th march in Phoenix against Arpaio. Sheriff Joe Arpaio is often compared to Bull Connor, the police official in Birmingham who fought civil rights activists with attack dogs, and strong water hoses back in the 1960's. He acted above the law, although some could argue that his actions were not contrary to the general orientation of the rule of law then or even today. He was more blatant about abusing protesters and disregarding federal law than most law enforcement officials, which is why Arpaio is compared to him.

During the civil rights movement, there were no marches against Bull Connor, but there were efforts to produce situations in which he would show the world what he was willing to do to fight integration. The horrible treatment of marchers drew the attention of the nation and encouraged John F. Kennedy to initiate the Civil Rights Act of 1964. To some, the Civil Rights Act was a victory, and the story somewhat ends there. This perspective makes it seem that Bull Connor was an important catalyst and therefore target (although he wasn't quite a target in the way Arpaio is today). Yet if this was the case, why do stories that focus on a wider black liberation movement rather than focus on aspects of what's called the civil rights movement that often center on the federal government's benevolence or Martin Luther King's heroism not really mention Bull Connor at all?

If one were to argue that strategically it makes sense to go after Arpaio because of the significance of Bull Connor's role in getting the Civil Rights Act passed, I would say, Arpaio is our big villain, but just as Bull Connor was but a piece of the entire picture, Arpaio should not be the central focus of the current movement. According to The numbers don’t match Arpaio’s hype, Arpaio, despite having spent much more money and time and having wider jurisdiction and more media attention, arrested less people than city police departments in the county. The many politicians and those who elected them, the police, and ICE- all those who are enemies to undocumented people- make it clear that Arpaio is but one figure, and that opposition to racist attitudes must address something bigger than a politician, in many ways a symbol, no matter how monstrous. Yet the focus on Arpaio remains, locally and nationally.

Shall we just have marches against Arpaio until we get a crappy Immigration Reform bill? And maybe even get rid of Arpaio? Will that solve all the problems of migrants and others caught up in the arrests, checkpoints, and militarization of the border? We can bet that these things, especially the militarization of the border, will still exist after reform. There will still be "illegal" people, and a permanent underclass.

A call to action for the March in Phoenix on January 16th says, "It is time, just like Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement took the streets of Montgomery Alabama that at that time was the epicenter of hate; we must do the same in Phoenix." The movement for immigrants’ rights is often compared with the civil rights movement, but we must ask whether the civil rights movement was even effective.

First, the civil rights/black liberation movement involved a lot of amazing work and the organizing by many people who are rarely credited for their contributions. Often their ideas about what should come of the movement are not recognized today. What is recognized are the agreeable aspects which the white mainstream chose to co-opt. It is not that the movement did not succeed exactly, but we are made to think that racism no longer exists because of the it. Yet we have the largest prison populations in the world and the relative majority of those in prison are non-white, and many are in for non-violent offenses. This is only one example of the way that racism has been disguised, yet still exists today.

Despite the fact that many people have been empowered by the amazing work by organizers of the civil rights and power movements, what happened is that while elements of the movement(s) were co-opted, others were effectively destroyed through the Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO). Briefly, COINTELPRO sought to eradicate dissidence, to destroy Martin Luther King Jr., the Black Panthers, and other radicals, and was, with the help of local police and the criminalization of people, the downfall of many liberation movements.

It is difficult to use the civil rights movement as a model for a movement of today for these reasons (and many others), primarily because what most people know of it is what they are encouraged to know, their education about history filtered for the purposes of maintaining the status quo.

If we were to see the Civil Rights Act as a success of the civil rights movement, it would make sense for us to seek something comparable from the immigrants' rights movement. Another call to action for the January 16th march says, "Join us and march against the injustices and separation of families caused by the 287(g) and Joe Arpaio. We will be demanding that the Obama administration take direct action on the issues affecting our communities." Some calls for the march, seemingly mostly or solely coming from the National Day Laborer Network, call for comprehensive immigration reform.

Something many people don't know about are two riders added to the Civil Rights Act of 1968, one which outlawed crossing state lines (which includes using a telephone or sending mail across state lines) with intent to "incite a riot" and the other making it a federal crime to "obstruct law enforcement officers or firemen doing their lawful duty in connection with a civil disorder which obstructs a federally-protected function". Both of these have been used against Black Panthers, the American Indian movement, and various other radicals. This is yet another example of the way the federal government criminalizes dissent, as well as an example of how laws that claim to solve problems (such as discrimination) actually perpetuate those problems by undermining the people's ability to rebel, and by contributing to the filling of the prisons. Oh, and get this: the Civil Rights Act of 1968 that was meant to prohibit violence against black people exempted from prosecution any law enforcement officers, member of the National Guard and Armed Forces who are engaging in suppressing a riot or civil disturbance.

The integrity of the Civil Rights Bills aside, it is important to make the point that the federal government was involved in crimes against the people (such as through COINTELPRO), and watched as racists such as the KKK and southern police committed crimes against black people. One example is that the federal government was providing information about the Freedom Riders to the Birmingham police, who in turn was providing that information to the KKK. The Klan used that information to attack civil rights activists, such as when the freedom riders arrived at a bus terminal and the KKK beat them while the police waited to show up until most of the Klan members had left. The police were actually providing a lot of information about local civil rights activities, but who they were providing it to was especially interesting. The information was being given to a KKK member who was actually an FBI agent who had infiltrated the Klan. So the FBI knew all along that the information was being provided to the KKK, and they also knew the details of the various acts of violence the Klan and the police were perpetrating against the black population and civil rights activists. Keep in mind that Birmingham was being called "Bombingham" because of all the bombings at the time. Yet neither the FBI, nor the federal government in general, did anything to stop the horrible violence that was occurring even though they did have the ability to do so (Source). This is the government that benevolently gave us the Civil Rights bills?

So it must be asked, were the Civil Rights laws a success? I would concede that laws do shape people's attitudes, that outlawing racial discrimination shaped the white consciousness. Yet, on the flip side of this, laws and law enforcement have played a stronger role in justifying racist attitudes. I would argue that the criminalization of people, which did not start with the civil rights movement, but at that time was intentionally shifted towards appearing unbiased, is the newer face of racism. Certainly things have changed due to the civil rights movement, but we must ask what was it that really changed and what has not changed? As mentioned above, dissent has been criminalized, as well as has been poverty, drug use, etc. The police enforce the color line by partaking in harassment, brutality, and arrests of people of color. Especially relevant to this discussion is that movement across borders has been limited and criminalized, constructing a whole mass of people as criminals. From this perspective, the rule of law is perfectly congruent with racism. So Connor and Arpaio are not aberrations except in the way that they flaunt their penchant for abusing people. While not as blatantly racist as Connor was, Arpaio can still terrorize migrants under the power of the law.

Another question to be asked: Were the Civil Rights Bills written because of a moral imperative of the federal government, perhaps with a push from leaders like Martin Luther King Jr.? Or were they an attempt to quash dissent? After all, protests and riots were a major concern. What better way to deal with it than to throw the people a bone while you further criminalize rioting?

Malcolm X said, "You’ll get freedom by letting your enemy know that you’ll do anything to get your freedom; then you’ll get it... when you stay radical long enough and get enough people to be like you, you’ll get your freedom." Additionally, a couple months after the big March on Washington, Malcolm X described in a speech how the March was co-opted by the federal government; that originally the marchers were talking about how they were going to march on the government buildings and bring them to a halt, and even that they would lay down on the runways of the airports and stop planes from landing. This frightened the government so much, that got Martin Luther King Jr and others together to undermine the organizing for these activities by making it a passive march instead. "They controlled it so tight, they told those Negroes what time to hit town, how to come, where to stop, what signs to carry, what song to sing, what speech they could make, and what speech they couldn't make; and then told them to get out town by sundown." Yes, the government has its ways to undermine true dissent, and obviously it's not always through force. Reform is used to undermine revolution.

This is why I believe that if anything with a positive façade is to come out of Comprehensive Immigration Reform, it is out of fear of the power of the people. After all, no moral imperative is preventing the federal government from running all the detention centers, from militarizing the border, from being involved in the corrupt drug war, etc. (On the flip side, I believe the federal government is also afraid of the racists who scapegoat migrants and other people of color for their problems but also are angry with the government for collaborating with businesses to make money off of cheap labor). Even if you believe that new opportunities come with Obama in power, the fact remains: the rule of law is intimately tied to racism. History may not repeat itself, but there are many lessons to be learned.

It is also worth mentioning that Malcolm X's story should be considered when movement leaders invite cops to meetings, when activists police the behavior of the people during protests, and when they try to control the message.

To conclude, Arpaio mustn't be the focus for the movement, and neither should reform. Knowing that Arpaio, like Bull Connor, was elected time and again by a mass of white folks who feel that people of color are somehow a threat, and that the rule of law, with the participation of the federal government, is inextricably racist, we have much to do. We need to challenge white people on their racism and no longer legitimize the federal government or other law enforcement by comparing Arpaio the "Sadistic Man" to those whose acts of repression are simply less visible. We need resistance, no compromise on freedom. Lives are at stake. Freedom not reform.

This is all not to say you shouldn't attend actions like the march against Arpaio. In fact you should, and you should bring your message and your passion for freedom.

Further reading:
No Borders or Prison Walls: Beyond Immigrants' Rights to Ending Criminalization of All People of Color
Freedom, Not Reform: On the New CIR-ASAP bill