No evil deed goes unnoticed by a community united against hate and on Saturday in Phoenix, thousands united against Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
The crowd gathered at Steele Indian School Park in the morning to hear several speakers, musicians, religious and tribal leaders offer their thoughts and prayers before setting out south down Central Avenue towards downtown. The crowd steadily grew as the march advanced in the near-90 degree heat of the Arizona desert.
This latest exercise of 1st Amendment rights to assembly was in response to the escalation of anti-immigrant and anti-latino actions by Sheriff Arpaio since winning reelection in November 2008. The racial profiling has increased under his leadership and families continue to be separated by gestapo-like workplace & home raids that Arpaio claims are part of his oath to uphold state law. He also believes that it’s his duty as sheriff to segregate and humiliate migrant workers, treating them like animals by electrifying the perimeter fence around their tent city detainment facility.
The actions of Arpaio have attracted the attention of activist celebs like Zack de la Rocha of Rage Against the Machine, who was at the march.
“By parading human beings shackled in chain gang stripes,” said De la Rocha, “in a misguided effort to collectively humiliate and to terrorize an entire population, he reopened the wounds from which we all still suffer, by invoking the painful memories of slavery and segregation…by doing so, he has not only brought shame upon the state of Arizona, but is bringing shame upon the entire nation.”
De la Rocha also came down on the country’s new Secretary of Homeland Security, who was governor of Arizona before her current post.
“If Janet Napolitano seeks to perform her mission as head of the so-called Homeland Security Department,” admonished De la Rocha, “she must realize the dangerous threshold that the 287(g) agreements have crossed. She must deal directly and quickly with the real threat to peace and security here in Arizona, by terminating the 287(g) agreement with Sheriff Arpaio’s office and joining the courageous members of congress who have begun an investigation into his criminal behavior.”