United Against SB 1070 in Phoenix
This post was written by Katherine Niall, a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Phoenix.
Sometimes itʼs hard to be from Arizona. In these difficult economic times, in a state that is ground zero for the housing crisis, horrendous legislation continues to be signed by the governor that targets the least among us. From the medically uninsured to the stateʼs poor children and the undocumented, Arizonaʼs lawmakers, with encouragement from ALEC, have balanced the stateʼs budget on the backs of the poor, the sick, and “the other.” SB1070, a draconian anti-immigration bill, seeks to legalize racial profiling and has terrorized our latino neighbors, induced xenophobia and fed the nativist movements. However, the pendulum of the word swings toward equilibrium and many have been galvanized to act–to stand on the side of love–and defend the human rights and the dignity of all people.
On April 25th, 2012, just over two years since Governor Jan Brewer signed SB1070, up to 500 people participated in the “March for Justice Against SB 1070” as the Supreme Court heard oral arguments of its constitutionality. The march was organized by many groups including Puente, the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Dream Act Coalition, and Occupy Phoenix.
We gathered at Civic Space Park and, as a band warmed up the crowd, many danced and socialized. We heard speeches by dreamers, elders, mothers, and the Reverend Susan Frederick-Gray. The Reverend spoke that as a person of faith we are to affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every person; that we are to oppose injustice; that no person is illegal; and actually what should be illegal is ripping families apart and harassing workers. Under unusual overcast skies and lower than average temperatures, the peaceful march began a three mile route past the Phoenix Police Headquarters, the U.S. Courthouse, the Fourth Ave. Jail, the office of Joe Arpaio, and then to I.C.E. headquarters. Yellow “Standing on the Side of Love” shirts dotted the crowd as many UUʼs marched and other yellow shirts rode bicycles and passed out water. Al Madrigal, a correspondent for The Daily Show was spotted in the crowd as well as a large number of state and national news organizations.
In front of I.C.E. headquarters, 8 brave protestors were arrested for an act of civil disobedience as they sat on a large banner blocking Central, and the crowd chanted “Whose street, Our street” and “Stop 1070. We will not comply.”
I am honored to have marched and spent an afternoon witnessing with the wonderful organization of the yellow shirts. I truly believe that we are all connected and “whatever you do to the least of my brothers, you do unto me.” SB1070 must be overturned and families must be protected. Our brothers and sisters, neighbors and friends must be treated with dignity and compassion.