Day of action against SB 1070

June 3, 2010

SocialistWorker.org rounds up reports of local actions against SB 1070 on May 29.

AN ESTIMATED 100,000 activists marched in Arizona May 29 as part of a national day of action to protest the anti-immigrant law SB 1070, which legalizes racial profiling in the state.

In support of those taking a stand in Arizona, immigrant rights supporters in a number of cities across the U.S. also turned out in their own communities to show solidarity--and make it clear, as the slogan says, that "Todos somos Arizona"--We are all Arizona.

In San Francisco, some 500 activists marched May 29 from the Embarcadero to the AT&T Ballpark to protest SB 1070 and support a boycott of the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team, whose owner Ken Kendricks, has given money and support to anti-immigrant Republicans in the state.

A spirited picket line was set up at the ballpark, and activists engaged people who were going to see the Diamondbacks play the San Francisco Giants. Giants fans were for the most part sympathetic to the protest and took leaflets explaining the call for a boycott. (The Giants won.)

Shane Hoff, a delegate to the San Francisco Labor Council from the United Transportation Union Local 1741 (representing San Francisco's school bus drivers), said:

The people who created economic crisis, we know who they are. They are the greedy bankers and, because of their fraud, the whole world is in economic crisis. I think they want to take the frustration that working people have, and direct it at immigrants. They are not our enemy. They are not who are taking our jobs away. Our jobs are being taken away by greedy corporations and bankers.

Miguel Perez, an activist with the Movement for Unconditional Amnesty, said: "The national significance of this is that around 10 states are thinking of implementing laws like SB 1070--like Texas and Colorado. So this must be fought at a national level. That is why we are here today on the National Day of Action."
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Calling the law "racial profiling at its worst," activist Rene Oterro said that the outrage should extend to the fact that Arizona has also banned the teaching of ethnic studies in schools.

"The fact that they are repealing that and saying that they can't have ethnic studies--it is just racist," she said. "More people are going to need to come out, step up, speak up and let the politicians and tea party movement and people like that know that this isn't okay with us--that we don't agree with this type of racism happening in our country."

In Chicago, 150 protesters gathered at the Tenochtitlan Plaza in the Pilsen neighborhood to add their voices to those speaking out nationwide against SB 1070 on May 29.

Immigrant Youth Justice League (IYJL) members Hugo voiced his concerns about the law: "SB 1070 is not the first attack against immigrants, and it's not going to be the last. There are other laws in other states that awfully similar to the like of Arizona's. This reality calls for militancy in continuing the struggle."

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights group Join the Impact-Chicago also had a large presence at the rally. Join the Impact member Leslie spoke about the connection between the immigrant rights and LGBT rights, telling the crowd, "An injury to one is an injury to all!"

Rigo Gogol from the International Socialist Organization said that we should all fight the myths against immigrants. "Like the myth that says that immigrants take jobs but when, in reality, businesses and corrupt politicians take our jobs and lower wages," he said. "We don't want 1,200 guards on the border; we want 1,200 scholarships," he added, referring to Obama's announcement that additional troops would be sent to "guard" the U.S.-Mexico border.

Once the rally was over, the protesters began to march two miles to a local PetSmart, whose corporate headquarters are in Arizona. On the march, protesters took over the streets without having a city permit.

A diverse crowd of 250 people gathered in Burlington, Vt., on May 29, declaring resistance to SB 1070 and demanding an end to racism.

The event began with a rally and ended with a march through the main commercial area of town. Sponsors included Grupo de Juego en Espanol, Burlington Progressive Party, Peace and Justice Center, Vermont Multicultural Alliance for Democracy, Reading to End Racism, the Vermont Workers' Center and the Will Miller Social Justice Lecture Series.

Speakers at the rally drew parallels between racist laws recently passed in Arizona and a climate of fear and harassment that exists for many immigrants in Vermont. Many also expressed the importance of solidarity between people of different races and ethnicities.

Tina Escaja, a professor at the University of Vermont, said, "It wasn't only a chance for educating everyone about and protesting the ongoing immigrant scapegoating, but also for celebrating a multiethnicity that ultimately reflects the very fabric of this country. It made us all real."

In Boston, 75 people rallied on the Boston Common as part of the national day of action against SB 1070.

Protesters came both to show solidarity with immigrants in Arizona, but also to take aim at new anti-immigrant legislation that was passed a day earlier by the state senate as part of its budget bill. The legislation requires state contractors to confirm the legal status of their workers, bars undocumented students from receiving in-state tuition, and sets up a toll-free hotline for people to report businesses that hire undocumented workers.

The rally included speakers from Brazil and the Dominican Republic. Referencing national polls that show majority support for SB 1070, and Massachusetts polls showing 84 percent of people against public assistance for undocumented immigrants, one speaker urged Americans not to give in to fear and scapegoating.

Activists in Atlanta descended on a shopping mall in a majority-immigrant neighborhood to petition for the repeal of SB 1070 and highlight the case of the undocumented student Jessica Colotl, citing her case as an example of how Arizona's example must not be followed elsewhere.

Jessica is one of the latest victims of the 287(g) programs, which allows local police to report undocumented immigrants to ICE. Jessica and the activist community are fighting her deportation in collaboration with the legal efforts of the local ACLU.

Local activist Luis Hartfeld, put it clearly: "It is the Obama administration's and the federal government's negligence and lack of commitment with immigration that has allowed the right wing to bring forward racist, anti-immigrant laws and agreements. From the SB1070 to 287(g), immigrants and working class people are increasingly under attack, Jessica Colotl's case is just another example of this."

Activists from across Western Massachusetts rallied together in Northampton, Mass. Many of the protesters expressed their opposition to the anti-immigrant bill that had just passed in the state the day before.

The rally was held on the steps of Northampton's City Hall, where more than 150 protesters flowed out into the streets despite police attempts to contain the crowd.

Union members, LGBT activists, members of the working class, documented and undocumented immigrants and various religious groups were all present to make their voices heard at the rally.

The emotions of the people at the rally were of anger and frustration, but also hope. "I speak Spanish. Want to arrest me?" read a sign held by a young child at the rally.

Cars passing by on the street honked their horns in support of protesters, and many people waved their proudly clenched fists out of the windows. At one point during the rally, a motorcade of motorcyclists stopped to show their support and solidarity.

Future rallies are expected to expand off of the great momentum created by this protest--with even greater numbers of people demanding that racism and bigotry be stopped nationwide, from Arizona to right here in Massachusetts.

Some 60 people turned out in Madison, Wis., for a vigil on the steps of Madison's City-County Building to both remember the victims of racist immigration laws and to protest SB 1070.

Speakers expressed their solidarity with the resistance to SB 1070, and called for action against the Dane County Sheriff's Office--which has been acting as immigration police by reporting anyone without documents to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Union de Trabajadores Immigrantes is endorsing a resolution in the Madison City Council urging the Sheriff to stop collaborating with ICE.

Tristin Adie, Tyler Mitchell, Josh On, Nicole Marie Ouimette, Paul Pryse, Michael Schwartz, Maritere Silva and Rebekah Ward contributed to this article.

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