Yesterday’s rally

About 400 people filled the courtyard outside of Congressman Grijalva’s office for yesterday’s anti-SB1070 rally. The speakers (before Grijalva himself took the podium) began with Reverend John Fife, a key figure in the sanctuary movement, and ended with a youth activist–a deliberate decision, I assume, one that quietly brought us from Arizona’s history of activism to the present day. Other speakers included the chairs of the Tohono O’odham nation and the Pima County Board of supervisors, a Tucson state rep who opposed SB1070, and representatives from the Border Action Network and Humane Borders.

Two key themes that came up from speakers again and again: “It’s time to move from protest to resistance” and “it must be nonviolent.” And a third: “We need to hit the polls.”

Two useful statistics: Calls against SB1070 outnumbered calls for it by 11 to 1. And 80,000 signatures opposing the bill were turned in to Jan Brewer before she signed it.

Some quotes:

“That may have been Alabama in the 1960s, but I tell you it’s not Arizona, not here, not now, not this time.” — Reverend John Fife

“We are not leaving. We are not going anywhere … Let’s take back our state … Each and every one of us can take a stand that we will not comply.” — Jennifer Allen, Border Action Network

[After saying we all bear responsibility for this bill.] “We have to take responsibility for the education of our community so this will never happen again … We’re acting out of love … and that will always shine a light on hate.” — Isabel Garcia, Humane Borders

“[SB1070 says that] … our priority isn’t on youth, it isn’t on poor folks, it isn’t on most of Tucson … the youth will be there. Help us all out.” — (a youth activist speaker whose name I wish I could remember. Romero?)

“It’s going to be a good exercise in democracy.” — Raúl Grijalva

If those scattered quotes make it sound like we’re on the verge of a new civil rights movement, that’s how it felt, too. And the strong thread of student and youth involvement makes me hopeful that the energy will be there–like we won’t only draw on the traditions of the past, much as we need them, but like we’ll be bringing in something new, too–which, to succeed, I think is just as important.

I went to yesterday’s rally not because I wanted to go, exactly, but because I felt I had to–that SB1070 is so great a wrong that I couldn’t in good conscience stay home. I’m glad I did. I left feeling a little less of that helpless they-did-it-again despair that I often feel when it comes to politics–feeling a lot more hopeful instead.

We don’t all support this unjust law here in Arizona. It doesn’t represent who we are, or who our state is. And we are going to resist and to fight it.

(ETA: Beginning to see pictures from the larger gathering at the state capitol in Phoenix today.)

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