Best Guadalupe Activist (2009)
If there's anything going down in Guadalupe, William Robles is the first to know about it. That's one reason why so many reporters stay in contact with the local community activist, who can often be seen doing security for different private and city events or patrolling the square-mile municipality of 5,000 souls on his bike.
If Robles spots something happening, like a fire truck pulling up to a blazing home or MCSO deputies arresting a fellow Guadalupano, the 40-year-old acts as a one-man news outlet, firing off e-mails to local TV and print reporters. He also keeps them apprised when there's an important town hall meeting, a religious celebration, or a festival coming up.
Robles seems to be at every protest and every community gathering of note. And his activities are not just confined to Guadalupe. When the MCSO did a sweep of faraway Avondale, Robles was there to protest the sheriff. When Zack de la Rocha came to town last time, Robles was there, too, marching with his big drum, banging out a beat that seems to keep the nativists and Minutemen at bay.
In fact, days before the big May 2 march led by de la Rocha, Robles walked all the way from Guadalupe to the Wells Fargo Building in downtown Phoenix, where Sheriff Joe Arpaio keeps his offices. It was his personal protest for those suffering in Arpaio's vast incarceration complex. Dressed in black on a hot spring day, he carried before him a flag bearing the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
When he's not on patrol or involved in a demonstration, Robles is usually studying computers at South Mountain Community College or spinning a combo of hip-hop and Yaqui music as "DJ BigWill" on the Yaqui tribe's radio station, KPYT 100.3 FM in Tucson. Robles is part Yaqui, like Guadalupe itself, which is half Yaqui Indian and half Mexican-American.
An easygoing guy, Robles is quick with a laugh and a joke. He likes Dr. Pepper and Chinese buffets and razzing his friends. Truth be told, it would be hard to imagine Guadalupe without him.
More La Vida Awards
Best Dream ActJames Garcia
Best Guadalupe ActivistWilliam Robles
Best WordsmithAlberto Rios
Best Pro-Immigrant ActivistLydia Guzman