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Phoenix Turns Into a Hurricane of Civil Disobedience After SB 1070 Smack-Down, and the MCSO's Police State Tactics on Parade

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And as former state Senate majority leader Alfredo Gutierrez reminded me shortly before he was arrested by U.S. Marshals during an act of civil disobedience at the Sandra Day O'Connor U.S. Courthouse on the 29th, nativist pols such as Pearce already are coming up with new ways to torment Latinos.

"The people who proposed this law are still governing us," Gutierrez said. "And they are still at this very moment meeting in some dark cellar, concocting new schemes . . . to oppress our community."

The insidious plot to deprive the children of illegal immigrants their 14th Amendment guarantee of birthright citizenship is one of these schemes.

Recently, someone reminded me of a Malcolm X quote, which is worth recalling and seems to sum up the feelings of many on the pro-immigrant side:

"You don't stick a knife in a man's back nine inches, and then pull it out six inches and say you're making progress."

PHOENIX ON FIRE

I only wish every day in Phoenix could be July 29.

The massive civil disobedience downtown and beyond actually began with a daring stunt a day earlier.

Four activists scaled a massive crane near Jefferson Street and Central Avenue. Two of them dangled from the crane hundreds of feet in the air and unfurled an immense banner that read: "Stop the Hate," with "287g" and "1070" crossed out in circles.

(Note: 287(g) is the federal program that allows local cops to enforce federal immigration law, if their agency has a contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.)

The four (plus one who was acting as a liaison to the police) were arrested for trespassing after they came down. Cesar Maxit, one of the daredevil activists, told me following their release that they were all experienced climbers out to make a point.

"We had safety lines," he said. "But immigrants who live in Arizona under SB 1070, and immigrants who live around the country under 287(g), don't have a safety line. So while we had some risks, it's a lot more dangerous being an immigrant in the United States."

The next day, Phoenix became a maelstrom of direct action against 1070 and the United States' immigration laws. Seventy-one people were arrested by the Phoenix Police Department, the MCSO, and U.S. Marshals.

Three were collared at the federal courthouse early in the day in arrests that had been prearranged with authorities. Later, a few hundred protesters took over the block of Washington Street near the Wells Fargo Building, where Arpaio keeps two floors of expensive executive offices.

Cops ordered the crowd to move to the sidewalks. Some decided to hold their ground and be arrested. By day's end, 45 in all were cuffed and taken away by the Phoenix PD.

The remainder were arrested during a protest outside the Fourth Avenue Jail, where six demonstrators had locked their arms together with PVC pipe in a move known in activist circles as the "sleeping dragon."

The MCSO responded with a phalanx of deputies in riot gear. The six, and numerous others, including Sal Reza, were dragged into the giant steel doors of Fourth Avenue Jail's central intake.

As my space is limited here, I suggest you check out my full report of the day's events on my Feathered Bastard blog.

I was particularly impressed with the actions of the many members of the Unitarian Universalist church, some of whom had come from across the country to protest 1070.

The Reverend Susan Frederick-Gray of Phoenix was one of those who'd locked her arms in the sleeping dragon.

"SB 1070 arises out of fear," she told me before she was hauled off by deputies. "I am here on the side of love. Love is more powerful than fear."

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons