Friday, December 25, 2009

White Pro-Lifers on Undocumented Mothers: Hypocrisy and Racism

What crime would you assume a woman committed to deserve to be shackled while giving birth, to not be able to hold her child, and to have to bare the pain of the increasing breast milk that would not go to feed her newborn? What if she was not convicted of anything at all?

This is what happened to Alma Chacón in October. It took a while for me to hear about this, surprisingly. But apparently it has happened to another woman in MCSO custody just this past week (update: this was covered January 5 in the New Times).

Chacón was likely a victim of racial profiling, had no driver's license due to being undocumented, and owed some fines. She had not been convicted of anything, and even if she had been convicted of a felony, she certainly did not deserve to be treated like an animal (animals don't deserve to be treated this way either).

According to Pregnant Latina Says She Was Forced to Give Birth in Shackles After One of Arpaio’s Deputies Racially Profiled Her,
"The officer chained me by the feet and the hands to the bed," she said. "And that's how my daughter was born."...

Chacón stared at her daughter as nurses cleaned her. It was a precious eight minutes, she said. But they didn't allow her to hold the baby.

When questioned later about the incident, Sheriff Joe Arpaio said, "I wasn't the one who kept her from holding the baby. Ask the hospital."

Sheriff's Office policy states that jail inmates be restrained for "security reasons in an unsecured facility," said Jack MacIntyre, an MCSO deputy chief. McIntyre said a 12-foot chain link was attached to Chacón's leg.

"Let's assume someone is faking labor — that's a hypothetical — and she then chose to escape and hit or assault the hospital staff," McIntyre said. "She could do that easily because it's an unsecured area."

Sentenced, pregnant state prison inmates are treated better than un-sentenced ones in Maricopa County jails. Arizona Department of Corrections policies state: "A pregnant woman will not be restrained in any manner while in labor, while giving birth, or during the postpartum recovery period."

The treatment of Chacón mirrors the general experiences of people in jails, detention centers, and prisons, but especially exemplifies the degrading treatment of undocumented people.

It also reflects an attitude about immigrant women who have children in the United States, like the derogatory term "anchor babies".

A few weeks ago, I came across an article about US-based doctors advertising in Mexico about their obstetrics services.

This was especially interesting:
Steven Camarota, research director at the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors strict enforcement of immigration laws, said authorities should crack down on these doctors who are putting greed ahead of the best interests of their own country.
Just publishing the names of the doctors would likely bring the practice to a halt, he said.
This is reminiscent of efforts to repress abortion doctors. But it would seem contradictory that people would want to keep abortion doctors from doing what they're doing, and obstetricians from their work as well.

There were various comments on the article that exemplified the hysteria about Mexicans having children in the US, such as this one:
This Quacks address / office is at 494 N. Carondelet Drive in Tucson.... We need to hold a mass rally and PROTEST this situation!! This is as bad as actually INVITING a foreign pregnant national to come to the USA for childbirth and therfore securing US Citizenship for that baby which will lead to more Mexicans coming in...And so on and so forth!!
There are plenty of examples of people who are both anti-immigration and pro-life. Nearly any conservative politician like Russell Pearce, for example, will have typical conservative stances. What are they trying to conserve? The white race?

Thanks to the Feathered Bastard, I have a bit more evidence that this is the case, at least for some people. Aborting and Importing – Is Immigration the Replacement for Native Born Population? contains the following:
Unlike any culture in history, we are aborting our children. Have we bought into the Self-Hate so much that we are committing a protracted national and cultural suicide?
America can you handle the CHANGE? You’ll have to. Consider once again that we are aborting our native born population and importing their replacements. The numbers speak for themselves...

Why does it matter when the whites become a minority? If we are moving towards a color blind society, it should not. Yet there it was in big headlines on Yahoo.

Please understand, [the author] is not really concerned about daily life in the North American Union much after 2040. For me the point is moot. My hope is to bequeath to posterity an independent, sovereign and color blind United States in which the innocent unborn native population will realize the American Dream. Unchecked immigration is no substitute for a healthy birthrate.
Clearly, the author of "Aborting and Importing" is not quite hiding his concern for the white race. Funny how "native population" seems to imply anything but people indigenous to this continent.

Certainly even if white "pro-lifers" deny any racism, where was/is the outcry when women of color get sterilized in the many many examples in which they have?
During the 1970s, it is estimated that up to 60,000 Native American women and some men were sterilized...Puerto Rican women were also sterilized at astronomical rates by U.S. tax dollars. During the same time, several Mexican American women were sterilized at a County hospital without much explanation or information. A national fertility study conducted by Princeton University found that 20 percent of all married African-American women had been sterilized by 1970. (Source).
What about the violence against communities of color (wars, police violence, environmental racism) and the very high infant mortality rates? Yes, keeping women in general from having abortions would keep all women from having abortions, but for the reasons listed above, and others, I doubt anti-choice efforts are intended to maintain or increase the level of reproduction among people of color.

If all life is truly respected- even if we're talking only about the lives of babies- then we would see a drastically different world: one in which people do not defend their colonialist consumerist patriarchal culture against people with darker skin and different languages.

See also my posts on overpopulation and On "The Terrorists Who Aren't on the News".

Friday, December 18, 2009

Sexual Assault in Detention Centers and CIR-ASAP

As I read through parts of the CIR-ASAP bill, the part on sexual assault in detention seemed to necessitate a bit more attention. This part of the bill actually was taken from H. R. 1215 from earlier this year, or perhaps an even earlier one. Nonetheless, it deserves discussion. I noticed two things: there is no part in the bill that says what happens to the perpetrator if the perpetrator is a guard or officer (likely it is up to each facility to make that call). It also says nothing about a requirement to inform inmates of the laws and of their rights.

It does say, "Detention facilities shall take all necessary measures to prevent sexual abuse of detainees, including sexual assaults, and shall observe the minimum standards under the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003".

"On June 23, 2009, the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission (NPREC), which was also created by PREA, released recommended national standards along with a final report documenting the findings from its comprehensive study." Keep in mind, this was signed in 2003. But get this:
In accordance with PREA, Attorney General Eric Holder has until June 23, 2010, to publish a final rule adopting national standards. At that time, the standards will be immediately binding on all federal detention facilities; state officials will have one year to certify their compliance or they will lose 5% of their federal corrections-related funding.

So we don't even know what this will ultimately look like.

Victoria Law, in Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women, wrote about PREA:
The act... called for gathering of national statistics about prison rape; the development of guidelines for states on how to address prisoner rape; the creation of a review panel to hold annual hearings; and the provision of grants to states to combat the problem.
More studies and developments of guidelines- very similar to what the CIR-ASAP bill looks like. Do people actually see it as a victory when the government passes laws that just study atrocities, hoping that something will eventually be done to stop those atrocities?

Law continues:
In the first nationwide study conducted under the PREA, 152 male and female prisoners nationwide were interviewed. However, all of the case scenarios focused solely on prisoner-on-prisoner assaults in male prisons. The ensuing report did not even mention the existence of women in prison, much less sexual abuse by staff in female facilities.
Victoria Law goes on to describe instances where intimate consenting relationships between female prisoners (even just hand-holding) are treated as sexual abuse because of PREA. Although the official guidelines have not adopted and passed down to prisons, prisoners have reported an increase in write-ups for "sexual misconduct". A woman actually killed herself after her partner claimed she'd been raped to avoid the consequences of their consensual relationship being called sexual abuse. Both women would have been charged with sexual abuse and had a lifetime sexual offender label.

I don't want to sound like a broken record, but these are examples of why we must not expect real change to come through the government. We should be demanding the closure of detention centers (and prisons), not a somewhat nicer image of them.

Nonetheless, whatever can be done, should be done. With the recent decision to privatize AZ prisons, the discovery of secret ICE detention facilities, and stories like this about a woman who had to give birth shackled to her bed, the urgency is stronger than ever.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Freedom, Not Reform: On the New CIR-ASAP bill

Please don't be fooled. If anything, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity Act of 2009 is lip service at best. If you review the bill (the complete bill, not the summary), you will see a glaring lack at anything like a solution to the "crisis" so many speak of. Worse, it maintains that border security (read militarization) is important, includes employment verification, and also leaves out any mention of same-sex couples. It is unlikely to pass as is, or probably not even close, but I am concerned with so many people blindly celebrating this bill.

How about this as a summary for much of CIR-ASAP: review this, analyze that, assess this, study that, examine this, make recommendations, develop and implement a plan. This is the extent to which major questions are addressed: border deaths, costs of border security, human smuggling, Operation Streamline, etc. Certainly this gets nowhere near actually coming up with solutions to, much less acknowledgments regarding the injustices caused by the border and border enforcement. To me, it's nothing but superficial- surprising that they'd be mentioned, but still, just empty words. It doesn't take a genius to know that increased border security means increased deaths. Yet they are developing a study that would include "an analysis of whether physical barriers, technology, and enforcement programs have contributed to the rate of migrant deaths". And who would end up doing these studies? Is there any hope that they would be done objectively? And what then?

Not surprising at all is the callousness, or neglect of the impact on the indigenous communities and others as a result of continued border security. Let us not confuse a lack of a wall with lack of problems due to border security. The bill states, "Subject to the availability of appropriations, the Secretary shall establish a demonstration program to procure additional unmanned aerial vehicles, cameras, poles, sensors, satellites, radar coverage, and other technologies necessary to enhance operational control of the international borders of the United States." If anything, the bill seems concerned with making border security more efficient, maybe a bit more regulated and supervised.

Border enforcement has divided O'odham folks who live on both sides of and along the border, limiting their ability to participate in traditional ceremonies. Border patrol officers harass indigenous people, check points have been set up on the reservation at which further harassment and abuse occurs on a regular basis. The funnel effect caused by increased security in more urban areas like in El Paso and San Diego, has led to increased deaths on O'odham land (and surrounding border areas), as well as more drug smuggling, which negatively impacts the communities there. These issues have been worse than deprioritized by most people in the immigrants' rights movement. Far too often the colonial nature of the border is not considered, much less the everyday concerns of O'odham like the Loop 202 freeway.

There are some positive acknowledgments and solution-like proposals for how to handle detention. But it all really boils down to bigger cages, longer chains. No one belongs in a detention facility of any sort just for crossing the border illegally! Of course the government is not going to say such a thing. This is why I expect very little of any reform.

There is a large emphasis on consequences for employers who hire undocumented immigrants, but many of us have known for a long time that these measures have the most impact on migrants- the laws are meant to keep migrants from attaining work. It's funny that within the bill, there is a statement about preempting any state or local jurisdiction from "imposing any sanction" on people based on their immigration status. But isn't going after employers indirectly imposing a sanction on people based on their immigration status? A prime example is that in Arizona, an employer sanctions law was passed in January 2008, but has mostly or only negatively impacted workers- not employers. It has, in fact, been the justification for raids by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.

Some good news is that the authors of the bill oppose the Real ID. The bad news is they support electronic employment verification, which has and will continue to have many flaws.

Some are suggesting that this bill might pass with an addition of a guest worker program. I cringe when I think about the possible support for this, despite the implications of such a program. A guest worker program would only benefit businesses, and would not benefit workers, as has been seen in the past with the Bracero program, and existing programs.

In addition, the bill lacks any acknowledgment of the need for addressing same-sex couples' ability to stay together when one is legal and one is not.

The main failure of this reform is that it does nothing to put to question the idea that the border is legitimate in the first place. But why would it? As I've written before in Freedom, not Reform: If we don’t demand it, it can’t happen,
Illegal immigration is not wrong. What is wrong is the criminalization of people because of their class and countries of origin, and of the actions they have taken as a result of the decimation of economies and human rights by US business interests. What is wrong is that American businesses in and outside of the US have benefited from the cheap labor of Mexicans in particular, and others as well... Clearly no reform can be acceptable [to us] that the US Government, the perpetrator of violence against the people, will allow.
Again, I say, we need to demand Freedom, not reform, because otherwise it's not possible. Down with the Detention Centers! No More Border Security! No More Border! No More NAFTA! and on and on.

Thanks to Alex and Kevin for the information about impacts on O'odham.

Update: Read more about Sexual Assault in Detention Centers and CIR-ASAP

Thursday, December 10, 2009

News Articles on the New AZ Immigration Law

Prop 200, an law passed in 2004 and initiated by Protect Arizona Now, sought to enact some of the changes mentioned below. But due to various obstacles and constraints, including the issue about whether it was unconstitutional, many aspects of the law did not get enforced. More recently, some anti-immigrant legislation was snuck into a budget bill, and here we have it. These are some reports on the status of the new law.

Law requiring AZ workers to report entrants a travesty
Our view: Not only is public ill-served, the most vulnerable — kids — will be hurt
Arizona Daily Star
A new state law requiring public employees to demand immigration documentation before providing services — and to report applicants for services who are illegal migrants to authorities — is already taking hold.
It's going to be a bad deal for Arizona. Worse, it punishes some of the most vulnerable people — children — for government's inability to fix the country's poorly designed immigration system. (Source).

DES says it'll enforce ban on aid to illegal immigrants
By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services
PHOENIX — The Department of Economic Security issued a policy Thursday instructing its workers to enforce a new ban on providing welfare services to those not in this country legally, including a requirement to report illegal applicants to federal immigration officials.
DES spokesman Steve Meissner said the department was already asking for documents proving citizenship or legal residency, but the policy clarifies any ambiguity about what is required and specifies what documents are acceptable and what programs are covered. (Source).

High court won’t hear suit challenging new immigration law
By Christian Palmer
The Arizona Supreme Court announced on Dec. 2 it will not hear a lawsuit filed by local governments that sought to challenge legislation affecting land development and public benefits for immigrants. (Source).

Four-Year High for Border Deaths

The rate of border deaths are now at a four-year high
Migrant deaths in the Tucson Sector are the highest in four years, and a border activist expects that number to grow next year.

The Border Patrol reported that 208 bodies of suspected illegal immigrants were discovered in the sector in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30; 171 deaths were reported a year earlier.
The Coalicion de Derechos Humanos counted about the same amount, which means the Border Patrol's numbers might be becoming more accurate.
The number was unexpected because all sides agree that fewer illegal immigrants are crossing the border because of the poor economy in the United States.

“All the reports have shown that crossings have dramatically decreased, yet the deaths go against that,” Garcia said. “This tells you we were right all along. An increase of military and police-natured responses lead to more deaths. Even though less people are crossing, more people are dying.” (Source).
A lot of the crossings are taking place in dangerous mountainous areas where the trails are hard to follow, and traveling takes longer because of having to climb and not being able to go directly north. Migrants are traveling these routes because less Border Patrol are in the area, probably because they know that this area is sort of a geographical wall itself.

This is further evidence that a man-made wall will only increase deaths, as people will attempt to cross no matter the obstacles.

The obstacles and dangers have gotten worse because of the funnel-effect- the result of more militarization and security in urban and flatter areas which are safer to cross.

Let us keep in mind that people fighting for Comprehensive Immigration Reform are mostly promoting continued or increased border security. Let the thought of every fallen body be kept in your heart, and let it remind you that border security is not an option. Down with the border!!!

To do something directly on the border, contact No More Deaths.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Race and the Rule of Law in Maricopa County

So many people are thinking it: Arpaio and his collaborators are putting the law into question, especially with the latest lawsuits and the disproportionate ways in which the laws have been enforced. After the stories on the singing protest of Arpaio that caused him to walk out on an interview, a news search for Arpaio will give you these stories: Arpaio and County Attorney Andrew Thomas are suing several judges and other county officials, and an MCSO officer recently got jail time for contempt of court for not apologizing for stealing files from a defense lawyers folder (and the resulting chaos involving a walk-out and a bomb threat, and the likelihood that the officer is in Arpaio's fancy jail for his allies).

When you hear statement after statement from the sheriff and county attorney and others that they're enforcing the law- that undocumented people are stopped/jailed because they're breaking the law, and then on top of that they all seem confused about what is actually legal or illegal and law-breaking cops get different treatment, you can't help but find that they are amazingly hypocritical.

What I'm getting at certainly isn't that we should be concerned that the sheriff and county attorney and others are making a mockery of law enforcement or the rule of law in general. The purpose of bringing these things up in relation to immigration is to point out that the rule of law is and always has been used to work in certain people's favor- those in power and with money, and to work against anyone who is a threat to holding onto that power and money. It's not quite as simple as that when you have a local sheriff giving a big middle finger to the federal and local governments- certainly they don't all work together.

Arpaio consistently says he's enforcing the law. Yet, he apparently doesn't even know what law he's talking about, and belongs to the camp that is looking for new ways to change the law to further criminalize migrants. At the same time he says things like, "This is yet another example of my continued promise to enforce all the illegal immigration laws in Maricopa County regardless of the ever changing policies emanating from Washington D.C."

And what about the latest shenanigans with the MCSO officer?
On Wednesday, the morning after a sheriff's detention officer reported to jail to serve a contempt of court sentence, 20 of his colleagues called in sick for work at the Maricopa County Superior Court Buildings in Phoenix.

Those same buildings were evacuated for three hours Wednesday morning when a bomb threat was called in targeting public defenders, the Arizona Republic reported. (Source).
(Gee, they wouldn't have called in a threat to prove a point, would they?)
Arpaio says he's an equal opportunity enforcer of the law. How can you not see the inconsistency?

It's not inconsistent, however, with the way law enforcement has been used to enforce the color line. We can see this with their origins in the slave patrols, the relationship between the klan and the police, to, for example, the death of Fred Hampton forty years ago, other efforts against groups that empower their communities, as well as the drug war, racial profiling, and now the anti-immigrant efforts. As I state in No Borders or Prison Walls,
The war against “illegal” immigration is just one part of institutional racism, except this is an example that makes it all the more clear that crimes have been made out of the actions of people because of who they are. It is clear that the law has been used purposefully to render people powerless and exploitable.
Although the lawsuits against other county officials don't quite fit into this whole concept, it is allowed to happen because the other activities of the MCSO are congruent with the larger purpose of government control (see also, Federal Government will not be Maricopa County's Savior).

In Our Enemies in Blue, Kristian Williams expands on the fact that sometimes the police and the government are at odds, and why this is still acceptable. Talking mainly about police brutality, he says,
The police may violate the law, as long as they do so in the pursuit of ends that people with power generally endorse, and from which such people profit. This idea may become clear if we consider police brutality and other illegal tactics in relations to lawful policing: When the police enforce the law, they do unevenly, in ways that give disproportionate attention to the activities of poor people, people of color and others near the bottom of the social pyramid. And when the police violate the law, these same people are their most frequent victims. This is a coincidence too large to overlook. If we put aside, for the moment, all questions of legality, it must become quite clear that the object of police attention, and the target of police violence, is overwhelmingly the portion of the population that lacks real power. And this is precisely the point: police activities, legal or illegal, violent or non-violent, tend to keep people who currently stand at the bottom of the social hierarchy in their place, where they belong- at the bottom.
I've heard some say that Arpaio isn't racist, he's just a in it for the media and the power. Yet Arpaio (and Andrew Thomas, and Russell Pearce, and ICE, etc.) is participating in the criminalization and the incarceration and terrorization of people of color. Institutionalized racism benefits those in power. Whether or not they are bigoted or not, they participate in it, and they gain from it, at the expense of people's lives and dignity. And if they are okay with that and even celebrate it, how can you not call them racist?

Yet, they maintain that it's all about the law. The law, or the importance of enforcing it, often comes down to what undocumented immigrants are allegedly costing us as citizens (for an example, see Russell Pearce's latest). Yet, how much are all these lawsuits costing us? How about Andrew Thomas’ Battle Against Spanish-Language DUI Probation Has Cost Us a Half-Million Dollars. But Who's Counting? And lawsuits against Arpaio have cost at least $41 million (Source). That's not even counting the cost of the lawsuits he's brought against others. And all the investigations into various opponents of his. And all the sweeps. And his expensive office in the Wells Fargo building costing $650,000 per year in rent when he already has an office in a county building.

We don't even need to ask why it's apparently okay with so many citizens that these officials are wasting our tax dollars but not okay for undocumented immigrants to allegedly cost us so much (which is actually quite doubtful). The money argument is illegitimate and the rule of law crap is bogus. We can see what is behind this. An eminent threat: too many brown people and an undermining of the oppressive order of things. This is why we must challenge white people on their racism. We need to point out the areas that are inconsistent and hypocritical. They themselves might not see it. It's up to us to understand it and to make them understand it. (For a recent discussion of this in context, see The NSM offers nothing for the white working class but more exploitation and misery.) I'll leave you with this quote from senator Russell Pearce.

There is currently a battle raging in this country that will determine whether our nation enforces its immigration laws and secures its borders or becomes victim of its enemies. We are a Nation built upon the “Rule of Law” and either we stand up for the principles that our Founding Fathers gave us to ensure lasting Liberty, enshrined in a Constitution that protects those liberties or we destroy all that is sacred and the end result will be a nation who commits suicide. Illegal immigration is the Trojan Horse and we must secure our borders and enforces our laws.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Why We Sang Sheriff Joe off the Stage


"America's Toughest Sheriff"? The cowardly wind bag ran away from a choir! -KB

The notorious Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, AZ was invited to be interviewed by professional journalists as part of an event at the Arizona State University Walter Cronkite School of Journalism this last Monday, and was disrupted by protesters singing the "Immigration Rhapsody", to the tune of the "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen.
How do you… just kill a man,
Let him wither on his route,
Criminalized and shut out,
How do you… detain someone,
Because you perceive a threat to your privilege?
NAFTA, ooo,
Caused folks to lose their land
Just so the rich could profit off the outcome
Limit choice, lower pay, as if their lives don’t matter...

Freedom ooo- (any way the migrants flow)
Without walls and jails,
What does it take for freedom to ring for all? Read it all...

Although we did not plan ultimately to stop the event, Arpaio decided to walk off stage with 12 minutes left of the forum. Faced with hard questions, he seemed to be looking for an excuse to leave as he quickly decided to give up because we were not being removed or silenced.

A disruption was expected by many, with various articles reporting on the planned protests, the decision to limit the public event to students, faculty and staff (which excluded some of our singers- but those of us with old IDs got in no problem), and the stationing of uniformed and plain clothes police throughout the building and outside. The protest outside was lively and eventually, due to some anarchists, made its way into the building, occupying it for an impromptu Haymarket Squares show. Inside the event, while the interview was still going on, various protesters held signs and two banners were dropped, eliciting no response from Arpaio, nor police, but were impassioned nonetheless.

Although post-protest press was dominated by expressions of disappointment or disapproval about how the journalists were not allowed to finish asking their difficult questions of the sheriff, ultimately, Arpaio decided to leave. They could've all waited for the song to end (it was maybe 2 1/2 to 3 minutes long) and continued the event- extending it past 8pm (gasp), but that is not what happened. Instead, those of us who sang were blamed for ruining it.

There have been speculations that Arpaio wanted an excuse to take off early.
"I felt that the protesters were really out of place by not allowing the journalists to finish questioning him," said Gabrielle Abrams, a Cronkite student. "In protesting Arpaio, they helped him out by letting him leave 20 minutes early." (Source).
Some felt that the journalists' questions were very important because they dug at some of the issues that make Arpaio so controversial. That might be true, at least from Arpaio's perspective. One must ask, where were the security and the police? There had been at least 4 plain clothes police officers (I'm guessing MCSO, but I don't know) near us, and at least two Phoenix PD community relations officers in the room, but none seemed to be around by the time we started singing. Arpaio certainly expected something, given that he brought a hat (apparently the U of A mascot hat was supposed to offend us) to put on in the case of a disruption. That man is prepared for anything.

Although many might feel the singing was inappropriate, some people have pointed out that Arpaio deserved to be shut down. He shouldn't have even been there in the first place. In addition, he was skirting the questions, not really giving any sort of straight answer to some very important questions. Although I myself was surprised by the blatant accusatory manner of the questions, I was still disappointed by the lack of accountability demanded of Arpaio, who manipulated his excuse for answers to avoid accountability.

From my perspective, though, the event itself was ridiculous. This man is a horrible monster- not worthy of any sort of respect, nor forum. Yet he's on the national news often, on the local news more, able to share his views on "illegals". Just a short list of reasons: tent city, deaths in the jails, horrible jail conditions in general, immigration sweeps, pink underwear, chain gangs, green baloney, etc, etc. To those who care about these issues, it is a joke and it is offensive that anyone would give him the time of day. He deserved to be offended, pissed off, and silenced. Had those of us who sang thought we could've gotten away with singing him off the stage, most or all of us probably would've started earlier with that intention.

Amusingly, I read articles and comments that expressed concern for the journalists and the journalism students, but very few were concerned about the disrespect shown towards Arpaio. Perhaps that'll piss him off a bit more.

We didn't expect to complete the entire song successfully (some people have been arrested by MCSO for clapping at a Board of Supervisors Meeting), so we weren't all that prepared for media questions and getting the message across. We had several copies of the lyrics to hand out to the media, yet very few came looking for us. They mostly went to interview Arpaio as he left through a different exit. We were around outside with the protest for quite a while after the event, available for interviews, and did engage in a handful, mostly with student journalists. The lyrics were up on a State Press article by the time I got home, and were also added to Arizona Indymedia, yet some mainstream articles reported that we sang the "Bohemian Rhapsody". You can hear clearly on the videos (there was a live feed going on) that we were not singing the original lyrics. You'd almost think those reporters didn't give a shit. Or maybe you know they don't.

This goes to show that despite this creative and audacious stunt, it is nearly impossible to get our position out in the mainstream press. Worse, although we know they have to fit a lot of important information into a short period of time, even Democracy Now! was rather cursory about our message (see video below). We weren't just taunting Sheriff Joe, we had a very clear message (well, clear if you saw the lyrics, which were sent to DN! that night, by the way). Even Stephen Lemons seemed to not quite get the point, "What I think many have forgotten in their rush to condemn the impish act of civil disobedience by a few is that there's a certain carny logic at work with any Joe show. That is, if you invite the circus to town, there will be clowns — one big clown, for sure."

We were trying to share a message that addresses issues like NAFTA, the purposeful criminalization of people, the disproportionate access to cross the border based on color/class/origin, etc. (limited by the number of syllables and verses of the original song). These are issues that the media does not want to deal with. The resistance to Sheriff Joe is something we want exposed and promoted, but the immigration issue is so much bigger than him.

It is worth noting that we are not just some random lefty students with a thing for pissing off Arpaio. In fact, at least three of us are no longer students at ASU. Our perspective doesn't represent the student body (I wish). We have a variety of experiences protesting, writing, copwatching. Some of us are anarchists as well. Overall the song was meant to express a radical view on the bigger picture.

People say we could've just protested outside, we could've done it afterwards, blah blah blah. But would that have gotten us the results we got? No (I've been protesting Arpaio for years- we need new tactics). And are the results we got good enough? Mostly no. The lyrics have gotten out to hundreds or maybe even thousands of people. Did they just reach sympathetic people? Maybe. And just people with internet access? Pretty much.

At least this singing is part of the escalating resistance to Sheriff Joe and his policies. It is an example of something creative that caused a ruckus without offending too many people (although we still apparently offended a good number who thought the performance was misplaced). There are many that we will never satisfy, even if they share a distaste for Arpaio. So we must be happy with what we can achieve. Plus it was fun and funny. The reality of the situation migrants face is not at all funny, but sometimes humor and music are good therapy for all the crap going on in the world.

Liberal [sic] Protesters Threaten Very Fabric of Society By Interrupting Sheriff Joe -Weekly Standard