Could the May 29 anti-SB 1070 march be heading for disruption by some anonymous, underground group of pseudo-revolutionaries?
That's the concern raised by a flier circulating in town that shows a group of masked individuals, one of whom is holding a rifle.
The flier decries SB 1070 and Arizona's ban on ethnic studies, and makes some ominous statements.
"Other cities across America are rioting for us here in Phoenix!" declares the flier. "What are we gonna do?! We are the city, we can shut it down!! Storm the capitol 5-29-10. Meet at Indian Steele Park."
Um, "rioting"? I must have missed that episode of Anderson Cooper 360.
I found copies of the flier at the downtown Phoenix coffeshop Conspire. The person I spoke with at Conspire said java-slingers there had no idea who put the flier out. All sorts of fliers, zines and so forth are distributed at Conspire, so I can buy this.
The flier itself is anonymous save for the words "SakredPath" in the lower right corner. I have seen that name on an anti-Nazi flier once, but was never able to connect it to any specific group.
Since one might think -- based on the bandanas and the masks -- that the flier is anarchist in origin, I contacted Phoenix Class War Council, the best known anarchist group in the Valley. However, PCWC said it wasn't their flier.
"We're not involved in it," said a spokesman for the group, who asked not to be identified. "And we're confident this did not come from the anarchist community."
Both the Phoenix Police Department and Salvador Reza of the Puente Movement, a co-sponsor of the May 29 demonstration, were aware of the flier, which has made the rounds.
Sgt. Brian Murray of the Phoenix PD's Community Response Squad has seen it. He said police are "prepared to deal with anything that happens."
Murray also said police did not want to see a repeat of January 16, where a small handful of demonstrators clashed with cops, pepper spray was deployed, and five demonstrators were arrested. This, during a massive anti-Arpaio protest that was otherwise peaceful.
"I hope it doesn't happen," Murray told me. "It would be a real shame to have people come from all over the country -- do all this legwork -- to have an event of this stature, only to have it disrupted by a small minority of people."
Reza said that he doesn't like to respond to anonymous fliers, but he pointed out that the flier's message was the opposite of the march's organizers.
"The main thing is that our march, the one that's being done by people of all colors of all races, is nonviolent," he explained. "It follows the precepts of Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez, Gandhi. We're asking people to go there in good faith, and in peace, and demonstrate that nonviolence works, even if violence is inflicted upon you, as a nonviolent person you should never, never inflict violence onto anybody else.
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"Those are the teachings of Martin Luther King. And we're asking everybody to follow them. Sometimes it's very hard to turn the other cheek, when you're attacked by the system, when you're attacked by the police, when you're attacked by the sheriff. But this time, it's very important, because we're going to have a lot of young kids there, a lot of families, and a lot of people that are innocent."
Thing is, the flier could be the work of one nut, as far as we know. But in case it isn't, I would urge those putting it out to remember that any violence will be seized upon by the nativists and other extremists, and they will use it to slander all those who want justice for the migrant community and an end to SB 1070.
That said, acts of civil disobedience and passive resistance, like those done by the Capitol 9, by the Dream Act students, and by those in the O'odham solidarity movement, whom I wrote about in this week's Bird column, should be celebrated. These actions were not violent, and it's violence that all should eschew for the sake of this effort .
(Note: The PCWC is raising funds for the defense of the activists cited in the recent occupation of the Border Patrol's Tucson offices. You can donate to this worthy cause, here.)