Nine activists protesting state Senator Russell Pearce's anti-immigrant bill SB 1070 chained and locked themselves to the doors of the Arizona Capitol today, forcing the Capitol Police to use bolt cutters to unchain the nine and arrest them for disorderly conduct.
As a demonstration of hundreds denouncing SB 1070 raged on the state House lawn, the nine twenty-somethings sat silent and stone-faced, waiting to be taken away. Some moved their lips in prayer, as reporters and activists crowded around them.
One activist separate from the group handed out a statement from the nine, calling for "massive and ongoing civil disobedience to be organized all over Arizona and the rest of the nation."
The press release further read, "A people can only remain oppressed for so long before they rise from the shadows, from the margins, from oblivion...We chain ourselves to the Arizona State Capitol because nothing else has worked."
(You can read the entire statement, here.)
Capitol Police Commander Andrew Staubitz told reporters that the nine would be transported to Maricopa County's Fourth Avenue Jail to be booked.
Asked why he didn't cite and release the nine, Staubitz said that they were told they would be arrested if they did not unchain themselves. When they did not comply, they were taken into custody.
The nine protesters were later marched out of the old Capitol building in handcuffs, singing "We Shall Overcome," and chanting, "Veto 1070," a reference to the anti-immigrant legislation now on Governor Jan Brewer's desk that would make it illegal to be in the state of Arizona without proof of citizenship or legal residency.
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They were then loaded onto a black sheriff's department bus. Demonstrators met them outside, cheering them like heroes.
This list of their names was acquired from one of the lawyer's representing them, Antonio Bustamante: Faviola Augustin, Leilani Clark, Daisy Cruz, Gregorio Montes de Oca, Justine Garcia, Ernesto Lopez, Rubin Lucio Palomares, Jr., David Anthony Portugal, Jr., and Armando Rios.
Present for the rally outside was organizer/activist Alejandro Chavez, grandson of civil rights leader Cesar Chavez, who said the protest was very much in the spirit of his late grandfather. I asked him if he thought we would see more civil disobedience if Governor Brewer signs the bill or lets it become law without her signature.
"I do," he said. "The important thing is that we do it in a peaceful, nonviolent manner. It's important for people to listen. If there's violence, people shut off their ears. My grandfather said that nonviolence is our greatest strength. That's more important now than it's ever been before."