Thursday, July 29, 2010

Direct report from Phoenix: Civil resistance Takes the Streets

NNIRR interviewed Christian Ramirez, National Coordinator of the American Friends Service Committee, by phone. Christian is in Phoenix, Arizona, taking part in the national day of action against SB1070, Arizona's anti-immigrant racial profiling law (July 29,2010):

What are some of the highlights of the day so far?

Christian Ramirez: The first thing we have noticed is that no one is celebrating yesterday's court ruling.

Earlier this morning more than 300 people blocked the entrance to the Maricopa County jail here in Phoenix. The protesters were met with a big show of force. Some 60 MC Sheriffs fully-dress in riot gear confronted the protest and dispersed those assembled.

45 have been reported arrested; among them community leaders in the Puente Movement, Salvador Reza and Tupak Enrique of Tonatierra and a member of the Universalist Unitarian Church

Now there are about 500 people already gathered here in Cesar E. Chavez plaza in Phoenix and the organizers expect more to come. Another march is taking place at 4:00 pm today.

What is quite palpable is the climate of tension with a lot resistance.

And no one here, the human rights activists, is celebrating the court ruling.

Why aren’t they celebrating Judge Susan Bolton's decision blocking some parts of SB1070?

Those leading the mobilization are saying that SB1070 in its totality grossly violates human rights and the U.S. Constitution. Just because sine parts of the law are being implemented and others blocked represents a partial victory in courts but it does not mean a partial victory for people there.

There is quite a mood of resistance here in Phoenix; quite similar to the mood of resistance in April when SB1070 was first approved.

While the turn out is smaller than in April it is still early in the day and a larger rally is expected to take place in the afternoon.

What are people asking us who are not in Phoenix or Arizona to do to rollback SB1070?

The movement here is taking action saying: We will not comply with the law and our civil resistance will continue until 1070 is defeated.

They are declaring loudly that the partial ruling won’t make any dents in the anti-immigrant sentiment in Phoenix, which people have been suffering for a long time now.

We are receiving reports of protests and civil disobedience in Los Angeles, Boston, and other parts with rallies and civil disobedience.

Here poeple are making clear that yesterday’s ruling does not translate into favorable changes for communities. The ruling is a small step but a very small step and protests should continue.

Justice was not served by yesterday’s ruling.

Coming here, I was expecting different mood, a little more jovial mood about the ruling. But that's not the case.

People are upset and there’s a mood of resistance. Do not be fooled about yesterday – this is the message we’re hearing over and over again.


To read NNIRR's initial reaction to the court ruling against SB1070, click here.

Listen to a "Democracy Now!" interview Isabel Garcia, co-chair of the Tucson-based Coalicion de Derechos Huumanos, here.

For contacts and list of actions during July 29, 2010's national day of action against SB1070, click here.


Christian Ramirez, AFSC's national coordinator, is based in San Diego, CA; and is a member of the board of directors of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR).

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