written by Billy Wharton -
Immigrant rights activists carried out a bold act in protest of SB1070, the anti-immigrant bill signed into law by Arizona governor Jan Brewer. Six activists entered the lobby of the Border Patrol headquarters at Davis-Monthan Airforce Base at around 1 pm (MST) and locked themselves down using what organizers describe as a "lock-box." After managing to disrupt Border Patrol and ICE operations, border guards arrested the protesters who now face charges of trespassing and disorderly conduct.
Lelani Clark, a media outreach coordinator for the action, stated that the protesters wished to "Bring back indigenous forms of freedom of movement across borders." The protest group included members of the Indigenous Nations of Arizona, migrant workers and white allies. The group was driven to act, Clark said, because SB1070 "carries with it the legacy of the human rights crisis developing on the border."
SB1070 is widely considered to be a harshly anti-immigrant law. It requires all forms of law enforcement in the state to check the immigration status of any person they suspect of being illegal. Immigrants' rights activists call this an open invitation to racially profile Latino communities. Clark took this point further, calling it an attack on all communities of color in the state.
Protests against SB1070 have escalated in recent weeks. May Day marches throughout the country focused on repealing the law and musical artists, including the Hip-Hop group Cypress Hill, have cancelled concerts in the state. On Monday, three immigrant rights activists were arrested after staging a sit-in, in the office of Senator John McCain to protest his reversal of support for the immigration reform Dream Act.
Clark stated that the activists were mobilizing for the May 29 demonstration in Phoenix against SB1070 that has been called by the umbrella group Alto Arizona. Caravans are being organized from Tucson for the event.
The message from protesters at the Davis-Monthan Airforce Base is clear - "Border militarization destroys Indigenous communities." Direct action seems to be the primary tactic being employed by anti-SB1070 forces who are engaged in the largest struggle for civil rights since the 1960s. Indigenous communities may make unique contributions to this struggle as they draw upon bonds of affiliation that transcend modern conceptions of the nation-state.
Billy Wharton is a writer, activist and editor of the Socialist WebZine whose articles have appeared in the Washington Post, Counterpunch, Common Dreams and the Monthly Review Zine. He can be reached at whartonbilly(at)gmail.com