Looks like February will be going out like a lion, with a massive anti-Joe protest scheduled for the 28th demanding the termination of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's 287(g) agreement. Some 70 activist groups will march by the Arizona ICE office, the Wells Fargo Tower, where the MCSO has its executive offices, and the Phoenix Federal Building, according to local human rights activist Sal Reza.
I'll be there to observe as a sympathetic party. But to tell you the truth, I wish they could pull off a similar march in D.C., where someone outside of Sand Land might pay attention. The political reality of Cactus Country is this: Without intervention from the Obama administration, we are royally screwed.
Will the organizers draw the numbers needed to garner coverage from outside press? That will be the major challenge for this effort. Also, I would suggest that something more than a walkathon would help draw the media spotlight. A thousand person sit-in on the capitol lawn, for instance. Something that my jaded colleagues in the Fourth Estate, especially those beyond AZ, cannot ignore. In any case, the press release from Somos America is below. Stay tuned for more info.
SOMOS AMERICA JOINS WIDE NETWORK OF NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS SEEKING TERMINATION OF SHERIFF JOE ARPAIO'S 287(G) AGREEMENT
Teach-ins, Conference and Peaceful Dignity Walk and Demonstration Planned
PHOENIX, AZ - Organizations from around the country are joining together to call for an end to the immigration raids of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and specifically to revoke his controversial contract with the Department of Homeland Security.
On Friday February 6th, more than 70 immigrant, labor, and civil rights organizations from throughout the country convened an emergency conference call to reflect upon the Sheriff's most recent media spectacle, the forced march of immigrants to a segregated area in his notorious "Tent City" in the desert. Organizations universally condemned the action and pledged to assist the people of Maricopa County to overcome Sheriff Arpaio's reign of terror.
They plan a series of Teach-Ins throughout the country to increase awareness, raise funds, and energize those who wish to restore decency to the immigration reform debate. Further, groups agreed to support a national organizing conference in Phoenix to be held on February 27, as well as a Peaceful Dignity Walk and Demonstration to be held on February 28 in Phoenix, Arizona. They will carry a simple message: Stop the raids and revoke all 287(g) agreements that allow local law enforcement departments to arrest people suspected of being in the country without proper documentation.
The broad coalition of immigrant and human rights advocacy organizations known as Somos America/We Are America Coalition of Arizona joined the National Groups. "We're closing Guantanamo Bay in Cuba," said Héctor Yturralde, coalition president. "Now we must stop human rights abuses here on American soil. President Obama and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano have the power and the moral obligation to do that now by halting immigration raids and revoking all 287(g) agreements."
Lydia Guzman, Vice President of Somos America added, "Jailing landscapers, maids and dishwashers does not make us safer. But it does tear apart families. The small children who suddenly find themselves without parents cannot wait for Congress to pass comprehensive reform. The communities being terrorized by people like Sheriff Arpaio cannot wait." The group is also joining with Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon in asking Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate the conduct of Sheriff Arpaio.
"People of conscience all over the country are outraged at what's happening in Arizona, and they will be working nationwide to pressure the Obama administration to act quickly," concluded Pablo Alvarado, National Coordinator for the National Day Laborers Organizing Network (NDLON.)
Somos America/We Are America Coalition Officers and Members
Héctor Yturralde President
Lydia Guzman Vice President
Member Organizations: AZ ACORN, AZ Advocacy Network, AZ AFL-CIO, AZ Alliance for Peaceful Justice, AZ Asian American Association, ACLU-AZ, AZ Hispanic Community Forum, Beat the Odds, Centro Macehualli, Coalition for Latino Political Action, Equality AZ, Human Rights Campaign, Humane Borders, Interfaith Worker Justice, La Union del Pueblo Entero Laborers Int'l Union of America, LaFronteraTimes.com, Los Abogados, LULAC, Maricopa Citizens for Safety & Accountability, Maya Chapín, MEChA ASU, MEChA ASU West, MEChA Phoenix College, Mesa Assn. of Hispanic Citizens, No Mas Muertes/No More Deaths, PUEBLO, PUENTE, Radio Campesina, Roofers Union, SEIU/Mi Familia Vota AZ 5, ASU Social Justice Coalition, Statewide AACHE, Tequida & Gutierrez, Tonatierra, UNITE/HERE!, United Food & Commercial Workers 99, Volviendo a Vivir