Rage Against the Machine's Zack de la Rocha Rocks Tonatierra (video added of Zack singing People of the Sun)

THIS JUST ADDED: Zack doing an inspiring version of "People of the Sun" at Tonatierra.

Sal Reza (left) and Zack de la Rocha of Rage Against the Machine, ready for battle.
Sal Reza (left) and Zack de la Rocha of Rage Against the Machine, ready for battle.

The closest thing to compare it to that I can think of, is that famous footage in the documentary Don't Look Back of a young Bob Dylan singing Only a Pawn in Their Game at a voter registration drive in Mississippi in the early '60s.

I'm talking about watching Rage Against the Machine's Zack de la Rocha on the low, humble stage set up in the dirt lot of the Tonatierra Center in Downtown Phoenix, surrounded by a crowd of eager, mostly young faces, as he performs RATM's People of the Sun, with the accompaniment of a drummer drawn from the ranks of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, one of the main sponsors of Saturday's anti-Arpaio march.

RATM's De la Rocha performs for the crowd at Tonatierra Friday night.
RATM's De la Rocha performs for the crowd at Tonatierra Friday night.

Come sista resist

Tha new era of terror, check this photo lens

Now the city of Phoenix ethnic cleanse

Heads bobbin' to funk out ya speaker, on tha one Maya, Mexica

That vulture came ta try an steal ya name but now you found a gun.

Ya history, this is for the people of the sun

The crowd demanded an encore, and De la Rocha gave it to them with a spare, acoustic rendition of Killing in the Name, with the entire audience chanting along with him:

Some of those that work forces

Are the same that burn crosses...

Before the impromptu performance, De la Rocha rallied the crowd for Saturday's march, recounting the fact his grandfather hailed from Sonora, Mexico, and that his grandfather faced the same terror and oppression in the fields of California that many in the local immigrant community now feel in the shadow of Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Zack talks to fans at Tonatierra...
Zack talks to fans at Tonatierra...

De la Rocha also advised the assembled that the best way to deal with the wounds of racism and oppression is to speak out and defy those doing the oppressing.

"The only way to really address those wounds, and those assaults on our dignity," said De la Rocha, "is to resist. It's the only way. It's the only way to heal...So I'm encouraging everyone here, to come out to this march tomorrow and realize that we're carrying a lot of voices on our shoulders.

"The terror campaign that Mr. Arpaio is waging here in Arizona is keeping people in the shadows. They want to speak out. Their voices are the most important, because their voices and their experiences are the most dire. They are the ones that illustrate the policy, not only here in Arizona, but the policy that could potentially wreak havoc upon our communities across this country.

"So tomorrow, no matter what. No matter what happens, no matter what they throw at us, we know that by speaking out, by addressing the wounds, by confronting the indignity that they're trying to impose upon us, that we have already won..."

Zack gets the grand tour from Sal and Sylvia...
Zack gets the grand tour from Sal and Sylvia...

De la Rocha came directly from the airport, arriving at Tonatierra around 11 p.m. He got a tour from civil rights activist Sal Reza of the facility, and spent a lot of time signing autographs and speaking to fans. Needless to say, his appearance was a huge shot in the arm to the local pro-immigrant community.

People are psyched for Saturday morning. Sure the haters, the nativists, will be out there, hurling epithets, waving racist signs. But as De la Rocha has noted, the immigrant rights activists have already won...

The March to Stop Arpaio is this Saturday, February 28, 2009, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., beginning at Steele Indian School Park, Phoenix.

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