Best March Leader - 2009
Zack de la Rocha
Let's be honest: Too much that goes on in Sand Land stays in Sand Land. That's to say, if a saguaro falls in Cactus Country, unless news of it reaches beyond the borders of the state, it sometimes seems as though it never happened — no matter how great the injustice involved. So when a rock star like Zack de la Rocha champions the fight for civil rights in Arizona, it's a big deal. De la Rocha, formerly of the incendiary L.A. band Rage Against the Machine and currently of the duo One Day As a Lion, has infused the struggle against Sheriff Joe Arpaio with energy and passion, drawing a whole new crowd to the pro-immigrant marches demonstrating against Arpaio's racial-profiling sweeps and the federal 287(g) agreement with ICE that empowers them.
On February 28, a march de la Rocha participated in, from Steele Indian School Park to downtown Phoenix, drew nearly 5,000 demonstrators. Then, on May 2, he led 2,000 in a seven-mile walk from downtown Phoenix to Arpaio's Tent City. During both stays in Phoenix, he signed hundreds of autographs to raise money por la causa, and he gave speeches and impromptu concerts. De la Rocha's participation in Arizona activism appears truly selfless and guided by the memory of de la Rocha's own immigrant forebears from Mexico. More important, his efforts here have garnered press for this struggle far beyond Maricopa County, where folks know too little of the truth about Arpaio's reign.