Feathered Bastard

Pushback to Russell Pearce's Bigoted Bill: Hundreds of Protesters Demand Governor Veto Pearce Legislation

Around two hundred protesters and speakers from groups such as Border Action Network, Puente, Maricopa Citizens for Safety and Accountability, Somos America, the ACLU of Arizona, and others rallied at Capitol's Executive Tower today to demand that Governor Jan Brewer veto state Senator Russell Pearce's bill SB 1070/HB 2632. The bill would make it a "trespassing" offense to be in Arizona and be undocumented. It would also practically turn all local law enforcement agents in the state into immigration cops.

After making remarks to supporters over the catcalls coming from a small group of nativist counterprotesters, leaders of the anti-Pearce crowd including BAN's Jennifer Allen, MCSA's Randy Parraz, and Carlos Garcia of the Puente Movement entered the Executive Tower, and took the elevator to the 9th Floor in search of the Governor. Brewer didn't emerge to meet them, so the group left nearly 6,000 postcards for the Governor, each imploring her to veto the Pearce proposals.

"The governor did not want to talk with us," BAN's Allen told the crowd upon the delegation's return. "We have 6,000 postcards today, next week, we'll have 12,000."

MCSA's Parraz then took the bullhorn, repeating the promise that the rally would resume next week with a statewide mobilization against the bill.

"We're going to raise our voices to the point where she can no longer ignore us," said Parraz of the Governor, who has indicated that she will sign the legislation. "We are not invisible. We're going to make sure she vetoes this bill come next week."

Although there was hardly a massive showing of Democrats from the legislature nearby, Tucson Representatives Phil Lopes and Daniel Patterson were in attendance, showing that yes, indeed, they do grow Dems differently south of the Gila River.

"It's a horrible bill," said Patterson. "You saw the hearing at the Military Affairs Public Safety Committee, my committee in the house. I did not feel like Senator Pearce gave me very straight answers [when he spoke before the committee]. To me, a lot of what he was talking about was just boneheaded and not a priority for the state. We should be focusing on the economy and jobs."

I mentioned the possibility of some sort of filibuster, or some legislative tricks to at least show opposition to the Pearce bill beyond a "no" vote. Patterson said "that kind of strategy discussion hasn't happened yet," but he didn't rule it out, if his caucus was for it.

Nearby was some older gent in Revolutionary-type garb. His name? Bob Geisdorf from Mesa. He told me the three-cornered hat and his "buckled" sneakers were part of his Tea Party outfit. His sign read, "What would our founders have done?"

He told me that he regarded illegal immigration as a form of slavery. Being a wisenheimer, I had to point out that many of the founders owned slaves. Also, back in their day, there were practically no controls on immigration. All you had to do was jump off the boat.

As the anti-Pearce types shouted "Si, se puede," the nativists replied with, "Speak English!" Many of the usual suspects filled the nativist line, such as the anti-Hispanic Hispanic hobbit lady Anna Gaines and Brandy Baron, ex-co-owner of a massage parlor in Cave Creek.

Baron was wearing a T-shirt with a rifle scope that read, "Real Border Security." She said she's been spending a lot of time working on behalf of J.D. Hayworth's campaign for U.S. Senate. With a T-shirt like that, I can believe it.

Next to Baron, was a gal in fuzzy slippers named Kate bearing a sign that read, "Hot Dogs, No Illegal Beans Please." I asked her if she was using that as a racial slur. She said she did not regard it as a slur, as many Hispanics -- according to her -- refer to themselves as "beaners."

"Hey, do you see me crying because people like to call me a `cracker'?" she asked.

Baron, who is Hispanic, chimed in that she didn't mind the term "beaner." I replied that I liked to think of myself as a "self-loathing cracker."

Perennial Ron Paul activist "Morpheus" and fellow Ronulan Sharlene Holt were walking around with their Guy Fawkes masks on pimping a petition to end Phoenix's recently approved food tax. I told Morpheus I was down with him on this one, as a tax on food hurts the working poor and the middle class.

Both Morpheus and Holt said that they were against the Pearce bill. Holt said she regarded it as "scapegoating." They were also promoting libertarian Barry Hess for the state's top job, and I have to agree that he'd be an improvement over Brewer, who is destined to go down in Arizona history as one of the worst governors ever.

I also saw Radio KASA host and pro-immigrant activist Carlos Galindo working the crowd. Galindo gets credit for campaigning against the Pearce bill first on the argument that they are bad for Arizona's economy. He's passed out thousands of fliers urging Brewer's veto, with the slogan, "SB 1070 Bad for Your Business, Bad for Your Family, Bad for Arizona."

It's the perfect point to make. Even if you're ardently opposed to illegal immigration, this bill is overly broad, unconstitutional, and creates an unfunded mandate that will drive municipalities into the poor house even further than they already are.

And if turning beat cops into immigration enforcers doesn't bleed municipalities dry, the private right of action allowing any wacko to sue a law enforcement agency if it doesn't spend all its time chasing undocumented dishwashers and tree-trimmers will certainly do the trick.

The protest was a long time coming, but in general, I think it was a success. Hopefully, the organizers will repeat it next week, and make it bigger, louder and longer.

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