Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Come to Arizona to Protest


As a group of educators, students, workers, organizers and immigration activists who live in Arizona, we are fighting against SB 1070 daily. Because we are at the epicenter of the anti-immigrant movement, we invite organizers and activists from throughout the country to join us in our actions and protests in Arizona. (Good News: The Tucson City Council voted yesterday 5-1 to sue the state of Arizona over SB 1070. Flagstaff also voted to sue the state. Earlier, the Pima Sheriff has also elected not to enforce SB 1070).

In Tucson, in addition to anti-immigrant hysteria, we are also involved in a relentless cultural war involving what can be taught in Arizona schools. Specifically, over the past few years, we have had to defend the validity of Tucson Unified School District’s highly successful Raza Studies program. Less than one week after the extremist state legislature passed a bill that encourages racial profiling, they also passed HB 2281 that calls for eliminating ethnic studies.

As a result of these two bills and others, communities throughout Arizona, led primarily by young students, have risen up in protest. Seemingly the entire country has risen up in solidarity with us. We are actually receiving support from around the world. U.S. Congressman Raul Grijalva has called for a nationwide and international economic boycott of the state of Arizona. This boycott is directed towards corporations, tourism, major economic activity in the state and the state government (The 2011 All-Star Game in Phoenix is one example of major events that are being boycotted). It calls on organizations to refrain from choosing Arizona as a convention or meeting site, etc.

Living in this battleground state compels us to stay and fight for our human and political rights. Yes, we are appalled by repressive legislation that condones immigrant bashing but we are not ashamed of the valor that we have seen in recent days especially by the youth in our middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities, and we do not intend to hide inside our homes.

For those organizations that have already chosen Arizona as a site for conventions, meetings or summits, etc., we ask that they reconsider non-Arizona locations. This, however, may not be feasible for some that are locked into contractual obligations. We ask that these groups consider transforming their conferences and take the opportunity to send a powerful message of disapproval to the state legislature and governor. We welcome creative protest, before, during and after gatherings.
We welcome organizers and educators if you come to assist us side by side in our daily battle against the forces of hate. Already, many organizations from throughout the country and world have offered to send delegations to experience these struggles firsthand. As such, we welcome gatherings that offer strategies to promote social change and resist oppressive policies. Please maintain the integrity of who you are, but do also consider transforming your conference into one that clearly rejects the prevalence of racism in society, particularly in this state.

We envision the creation of twenty-first century Freedom Schools and an influx of Freedom Riders/ Freedom Walkers and other organizers. Work with us in creating and mobilizing towards equality. We struggle for more than immigrant rights; this is a fight for human rights and justice and also, for the right to be treated as full human beings.

For conferences/gatherings that cannot cancel, we suggest that:
· they affirm their strong opposition to the actions of the state legislature and the governor.
· they add plenary or sessions to inform and strategize on how to resist and repeal repressive legislation in Arizona and across the nation.
· they discuss the distinct connections between anti-immigrant policies and those that promote homophobia, sexism and other forms of discrimination and dehumanization.
· they hold meeting/events in public places as often as possible to attract media attention.
· organizers devise methods of creative protest to integrate into their program and should make an effort to engage the local and national media to cover the anti-immigration, anti-Mexican and anti-Indigenous politics in Arizona.
· they seek out and align with local organizations, including youths, who are often at the head of anti-hate movements.
· they seek out ethnic studies scholars or supporters and come to our schools and meet and dialogue with our students.
· they not patronize corporate establishments for any reason. (Make your own meals and try to stay in private housing. Conference organizers should also provide participants with (progressive) eating establishments, etc.
· when and where feasible, take public transportation, caravan, or carpool to your destination. If you arrive by plane, do not consume, drink or make any purchases at the airport.

If you come to Arizona, come prepared to protest and make history!

Signed (in alphabetical order)
Raul Aguirre, REA Media Group
Tanya Alvarez- Mother, Community Artist
Member of Partido Nacional de La Raza Unida (PNLRU)
Sean Arce – UA Grad Student &
TUSD Director Mexican American Studies Department
Syrena Arevalo UA Student
Damian Baca UA Assistant Professor
and 100 more.

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