Last week a film critic in the Arizona Daily Star wrote about me for his weekly series of profiles on Tucson filmmakers. It was a nice little article, even though it contained many minor factual errors and creatively constructed "quotes" - this is normal for journalism, so I'm not upset about that, since none of the inaccuracies were serious or slanderous.
I've received several compliments and positive new contacts are being made as a result, but one unfortunate, though amusing, side-effect is a trickle of the usual, fanatically hateful anti-immigrant people who always explode into fits of spitting rage whenever anything about the border appears in the news and doesn't match their level of prejudiced right-wing fervor. Here're a few samples, cut-and-pasted verbatim for you amusement:
From: [email protected]
Subject: Tell the other side!
Date: August 10, 2009 12:01:57 AM CDT
THE ILLEGALS MAKING 300+ NEW PATHS THROUGH OUR BEAUTIFUL DESERT, TRAMPING DOWN THE FLORA, INSECTS, KILLING THE WILDLIFE, POLLUTING THE ENVIRONMENT WITH THEIR GARBAGE, FECES; COWS & OTHER ANIMALS EATING THE PLASTIC AND DYING HORRIBLE DEATHS, DEFECATING OUTSIDE AND ALL THE POLLUTION, DISEASE THAT BRINGS, NOT TO MENTION THE DISEASES THEY THEMSELVES CARRY, OR THE TERRORISTS THEY ALLOW TO SNEAK IN AMONGST THEM OR THE VIOLENT CRIMINALS AND CHILD MOLESTERS THAT ATTACK AMERICANS & OUR CHILDREN. ILLEGALS HAVE BEEN KNOWN TO CUT OFF A LIVE CALF'S LEG AND EAT IT WHILE THE BABY BLEEDS TO DEATH, THEY CAUSE THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS OF DAMAGE TO RANCHERS' TROUGHS, PIPES, ETC. YOU MAY WISH TO TELL HIM THAT THEY CAUSE MORE ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS ANY DAY THAN THE BP - WHO ARE TRYING TO PROTECT THE PEOPLE OF THIS NATION!
From: [email protected]
Subject: FOR STEEV HISE: About your article on some movie you are making about The Wall on our border!
Date: August 9, 2009 2:18:17 AM CDT
I live about an hour from the border. People in my state are being murdered every day by illegals. The rate of child molestation is unreal! Phoenix is now the kidnapping center of the country and AZ the car theft capitol of the world! All because of illegal aliens!And tons of illegals are involved in drugs and drug smuggling!
Your movie appears to be lop-sided. Perhaps you would like to interview my two friends whose children were murdered by illegal aliens from Mexico and tell them how you consider it more important for illegals to be able to sneak into our country and we should not be protecting ourselves. I worked for several years with illegal aliens and met murderers, rapists, child molesters (at least 16% to 80% sneaking through now were violent criminals before ever coming here). Perhaps you would like to speak to some mothers of children who were molested by illegals. Have you ever seen a cow die from eating plastic left by these illegals (and by the way, don't call them "immigrants" - my parents were immigrants and it is an insult to every person who has ever come here legally to use this respected word which has just ONE meaning in immigration law and that is for people who come legally - otherwise the correct immigration term is "illegal alien". Every person who is not an American citizen is an "alien" and you will never ever hear a legal ALIEN complain about being called one. Only those who wish to intimidate you into using the respected word so they can manipulate one's mind will try to change the conversation and the words one uses.
An immigrant waits on line for years, complying with the necessary things they go through (background checks, health checks) to protect Americans and themselves). The word must never be used for people who spit on our laws. They have trampled down hundreds of new paths, killing flora and small animals/insects in their way. I have heard it will take thousands of years for the desert to come back if ever. Also, a rancher friend of mine told me illegals will slaughter his cattle live to cut off a leg and eat it while the animals (usually a baby calf) will lie there bleeding to death. You are another misguided soul.Every time you hear of another illegal murdering, raping, molesting, robbing an American - know you have helped do this. You should be ashamed of yourself! The media is supposed to show an unbiased view, but then you don't seem to know what that means.
(Oh, and speaking of bull - maybe, if it were true about all the cattle dying because of undocumented migrants, this would be a great solution to the problem of ranching, which has been destroying the environment of the West for over a century. Can we get more of those evil, hungry "illegals" to come and eat the legs off our cows? Please? )
This week I posted a third segment in the video series I started in January about the borderlands and the hopes and dreams of people living in communities affected by border militarization.
This latest installment is an interview with Mono Mono, an artist who makes electronic pop music that frequently addresses issues of the border and cross-culturalism. I first met him at the No Borders Camp in 2007 and then at a show he did here in Tucson. I visited him at his home in San Diego when I was out there in January, 2 days before the inauguration of Barrack Obama.
The New York Times opinion page ran a great piece about Nativists, the extremist anti-immigrant right-wingers and why they are racists.
It's an encouraging sight to see this sort of open analysis and decryal of the racism that still permeates our society. Hopefully this is just the beginning of even more to come.. Obama's rise to the presidency is not a sign that we are in "post-racial" times, but perhaps it is rather a harbinger of times in which racists are no longer allowed to hide in the darkness but are brought into the light, exposed, and stamped out.
It's been a while since I've blogged here but I've been more active over on my new border news website/blog, http://newsontheline.tv - this was created, as I explained a couple posts ago, for a new border project, which I call "Transition in the Borderlands" - the idea was to travel along the border during the week before and after Inauguration Day, and talk to people about how they think their communities are effected by the border wall and border militarization, and whether they think things will change and how, now that Chertoff and Bush are out, and Obama is in.
Now I'm done with the trip and busy catching up on other things and going over my footage. I'll be editing together several little vignettes, in addition to the 2 that I've already done:
I drove all the way to San Diego yesterday. I'm starting a new project to visit some spots along the U.S./Mexico border, communities impacted by the wall and other militarization, in the final days of Bush and the first days of Obama.
I'll be blogging in detail as I go at a new site, http://newsontheline.tv/.
Here's a story from the Sierra Vista, AZ paper reporting that Glenn Spencer, local xenophobe wackadoo, is complaining that the Border Patrol is inflating their figures of how much new fence is finished out of the required amount that Congress mandated be done by the end of this year.
Of course this in common knowledge. But I think it's funny that they're getting attacked from both sides - the racists griping that the fence isn't getting put up fast enough enough, or secure enough, and more sane and humane people who say it shouldn't be put up at all.
The story also mentions and links to the Sierra Club video that I made. An interesting comment thread follows the story, including an admittedly good point made by one of the pro-wall nutjobs: Sierra Club shouldn't be calling it a documentary. If I've ever called it that I apologize now. It's not a documentary, in the sense that a documentary is at least nominally objective - this film is an advocacy piece that takes a clear position, and I was hired to take that position and deliver a very clear and specific political message. It's not impartial reportage, it's a polemic. Guilty as charged.
Anyway, I'm glad it's getting more and more exposure.
Reports are out today that Homeland Security is a little overbudget on the new border fence construction and they need Congress to hand out another $400 million so they can finish what they were asked to do by the end of this year.
"If we run out of money, unfortunately the construction will have to stop," Ahern said. He said it is not known exactly how much extra it will cost to build each mile of the fence, because the costs differ due to varying terrain and environmental issues.
I'm proud to finally post online the short version of the film I made for the Sierra Club concerning the border wall and its effects on the environment. This project started in January, finished (late) in August, and will be premiering theatrically later this month at an event here in Tucson with our local congressman Raul Grijalva.
The full version of the film is about 20 minutes long, but you won't see that one online for a little while longer. The Sierra Club local group is trying to use it to raise money for a new border job they're hiring for. They've pressed a few hundred DVDs of both versions and will be sending it around the country to Sierra Club chapters and other interested parties.
Anyway, it's a relief that this is finally done and out there, and I'm hoping it will do some good in helping to get the word out about the gigantic folly that is our increasingly militarised and draconian border infrastructure and the frightening loss of our constitutional rights as a nation.
Though it's now about a month old, there's an excellent article in the New Republic about what's wrong with the border wall. For a right-of-center magazine, they do a good job of laying out all the important points, and conclude that "Most experts on all sides of the immigration debate agree that the border fence is a political band-aid for a larger policy problem." Another great quote at the end that they cite, from Cecilia Muñoz, of the Hispanic advocacy group National Council of La Raza: a "monument to Congress's efforts to look like they're doing something."
A couple weeks ago I posted about a local struggle between the forces of grassroots human rights and the forces of corporate-media-backed racist/sexist/xenophobic hatred. This is just a quick update to mention a couple things: first, recall that hate-jock "Jon Justice" made some horrid little videos in which he molests a giant pinata/sexdoll of Garcia. The schmuck took down the videos after he realized how damning they were, then his employer got YouTube to remove the re-posts that Derechos re-uploaded to YouTube, on copyright grounds. Well, now they've reposted them again to a different site that apparently isn't caving in as easily to such specious legal threats. The 2 vids are here and here. They are also embedded on a post from local progressive blog, "Rum, Romanism and Rebellion." In fact they seem to be reposted so many places that Journal Broadcasting will probably have trouble censoring them all. There are also transcripts of the 2 videos and other information on the Derechos site.
I also wanted to point out a few other references to this conflict, like a recent post on Feministing that mentions the situation, and cites some great feminist bloggers' analyses of the DJ's hate acts, saying it better than I could. And the Phoenix New Times' Feathered Bastard, known for regularly frying Sheriff Arpaio and other local facists, blogged expertly about it. I like how he refers to the hate-jock as "Jon Just-An-Ass."
Also worth griping about is the regularly worthless (except for the comics and Savage Love column) Tucson Weekly's coverage of the story - they mentioned it twice the week it started (in the editor's first-page babblings, and longer blurb further in), and once again the next week, and in all 3 instances, 3 different writers all used the phrase "paraded around" to describe what Garcia did with the Arpaio pinata head. The Weekly's take on the story is somewhat neutral, not really taking sides too strongly, their point being that everyone involved was just being kinda silly (oh except that John Hoffman, another schmuck from the talk-radio world who apparently works with the Weekly's racist asshole-in-residence Tom Danehy, said in his "guest commentary" that Garcia was being "tyrannical." Huh?). Besides the use at all of the rather un-objective, connotative term "paraded" you have to wonder about the repeated use of that exact same wording. Was there a staff meeting at the Weekly where dumbshit editor Jimmy Boegle told everyone to always use "paraded"? Were other words like "walked," "marched" or "ambled" tried by the other 2 writers and discarded by the proofreaders as being not inflammatory enough (I've seen the video they keep mentioning and I think any of those other terms, amongst a host of others, would be accurate to describe Garcia's actions)?
Or maybe all the authors associated with the rag are just lazy? Well, at any rate that's 4 more pieces of evidence (3 for each instance and 1 for the repetition) in my ongoing case that the Tucson Weekly is a hopeless piece of trash.
Well, folks, in case anyone still doubted it, the new border wall planned for Texas is literally becoming a reality as of a couple weeks ago. The physical start of this sad and ludicrous atrocity (which, even more saddening, is already pretty much done here in Arizona) is in Mission, Texas. Tireless border activist Jay Castro has put up a bunch of photos from there, of a first protest against this first bit of Texas wall. He also has an impressive collection of shots from all over the rest of the border.
Apparently there's also construction started in Granjeno, Texas on the combination levee-wall project, the corrupt deal that Hidalgo county made with DHS.
Tucson author Charles Bowden, expert on the border, the drug war, and the southwest environment, has been busy lately - He's coming out with a new book called "Exodus," about the immigration situation, and an article in Orion magazine is a sort of abstract of it, apparently (the same title also graced an article he did for Mother Jones a couple of years ago that touched on a lot of similar points). His basic point, in a word, is that immigration is unstoppable (which reminds me of a quote from someone interviewed in yet another documentary about the border wall, the trailer of which I viewed yesterday: "imagine someone built a wall between you and your bank. You'd find a way to get to your money.").
He also appears in, of all places, the latest issue of GQ, where he summarizes the recent drastic upswing of violence, from horrible to hellish, in Ciudad Juarez, thanks to Presidente Calderon's new, bloody, but useless war on Mexico's narcos.
The killings have the cold feeling of butchery in a slaughterhouse, and they are everywhere: done in broad daylight, on streets, in markets, at homes, and even in Wal-Mart parking lots. Women, children, guilty, innocent—no one is safe.
These are red, endless days.
A local shock-jock bigot, Jon "Justice," from local hate radio station 104.1 "The Truth" has started a feud with Isabel Garcia and Derechos Humanos, an immigrant-rights group in Tucson that took part in a big protest against racist, fascist sheriff Joe Arpaio a couple of weeks ago when Arpaio appeared at a book signing.
(in)Justice has initiated a campaign to get Garcia fired from her day job as Pima County defender. In turn, Derechos has started a grassroots effort to get advertisers to drop their support of the radio station. The pendejo DJ even did a horrible video in which he harassed and molested an effigy of Garcia on camera - it's so offensive I can't even watch the whole thing. Then he tried to hide this evidence by taking the video offline, but Derechos managed to save it and repost it.
Derechos asks everyone to continue the so-far quite successful fight to notify advertisers of the hate-filled broadcasts that their advertising dollars are supporting.
A point was made by Mr. injustice in a later video that his antics with the Isabel Garcia pinata were the same as what the kids at Barnes and Noble did with the pinata of Arpaio, but this is simply not true. The simple and ritualized beating-in-effigy of a public figure, a brutal cop who has terrorized, killed and tortured hundreds of people, is perhaps admittedly a little crass and a poor choice of tactics, but that kind of demonstration is is an accepted and somewhat traditional form of protest, quite different from the creepy and sexualized symbolic abuse of a latina woman that this white racist DJ has performed for his racist gabacho fans. And despite his denials, he understood this, too late, that this was the case, and tried to hide it. He must be punished.
Well, I'd heard some rumors, but today it became true. Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff is going to use the waiver power given to him under little-known section 102 of the RealID Act to ignore all laws on the entire U.S.-Mexico border, so that the department can go ahead and build the border wall and not have to deal with any more legal challenges.
As of March 17, there were 309 miles of fencing in place, leaving 361 to be completed by the end of the year to meet the department's goal. Of those, 267 miles are being held up by federal, state and local laws and regulations, the officials said... building in some areas requires assessments and studies that — if conducted — could not be completed in time to finish the fence by the end of the year.
Basically, it's a big "fuck you" to Mexico and to all the U.S. citizens who live in the borderlands and elsewhere and who have repeatedly voiced opposition to this insane, racist, fascist, wasteful, useless plan.
Now's the time folks. If you give a damn about freedom, liberty, the rule of law, and/or separation of powers, let everyone know, including your congresspeople and senators. And make sure you use the word "Laws" not just "Rules," like the weasely AP article put it. We're talking about U.S. Federal LAWS, like the Clean Air Act, the Environmental Protection Act, and dozens of others designed to protect the American people and that have been protecting them for decades - not just some miscellaneous "rules."
Stand up and be counted because if we let this happen, next time it might be martial law that they declare.
There's precedent, by the way, for stopping this sort of thing. The FCC has repeatedly done unilateral dumbass moves and then been slapped back down by Congress after a groundswell of constituent sentiment made it impossible to ignore. That's the kind of thing we need now.
Well, the nice thing is that a judge in Texas slapped down Chertoff for not following the law and consulting with landowners before having Homeland Security try to force its way onto their property to build the border wall.
On the other hand, back here in Arizona 2 more fascist and racist things happened: a mistrial was declared in the murder case against border patrol agent Nicolas Corbett, who shot dead in the back an apprehended migrant who posed no threat to him. The jury couldn't decide after 3 days of delibration and so now it has to be tried all over again and meanwhile the asshole walks free.
And in the Arizona state legislature last week several anti-immigrant bills passed through their respective committees. All of the ones that had been introduced, in fact.
But hey, more good news, Chertoff says that on the white border, err, I mean, the Canadian border, there won't be a wall, just another broken high-tech cyber fence, like the brilliant $15 million boondoggle that Boeing scammed the feds on here in Southern Arizona, which even McCain is calling "a disgrace."
Meanwhile unknown parties on bicycles are blowing up army recruiter stations in Times Square and not getting caught. I feel so damn safe I can hardly stand it, Michael. You're doing a heckuva job.
Here's a photo of me in the Lower Rio Grande River Valley shooting an interview for the project I'm doing for the Sierra Club on the environmental impacts of border infrastructure.
The project is really coming along. I just got back from another interview with a biologist here in Tucson, just a few blocks away from my house. It's funny that I've been from the Gulf to the Pacific on this project and also working right in my neighborhood.
O and I have been in San Diego since Thursday night, here to work on the border wall enviro impact video.
It's actually chillier here than in Tucson this time of year. brrr. But, it's nice to see the ocean.
Anyway, interviews have been good. Throughout this project it's been impressive and inspiring that just about everyone I've talked to on camera has gone beyond just the environmental focus and talked about the bigger picture - the overall problem and that people are immigrating because of what the U.S. has done to their countries, and the responsibility to do something about that, not just build walls.
In a few minutes, we head down to the Tijuana Estuary to shoot there.
There's still interesting struggle going on in South Texas regarding the border wall. In yesterday's issue of The Monitor, the main newspaper down there, there was a big article about the newest levee-wall proposal and how the enviro concerns are the same or worse than the original fence plan.
The interesting thing about that article is that they have Fish & Wildlife officials coming right out and publicly talking about concerns, which is pretty new. DHS was making sure nobody in any federal agency said anything that wasn't thoroughly sanitized, and when I visited the USFW refuge there I was told that if I just wanted shots of scenery, fine, but if I wanted an interview about agency concerns, that would probably take forever to get through red tape and then never happen.
Meanwhile, I just found out that the sites of all 3 Indymedia centers in Texas (Austin, Houston, and North Texas) are down. Austin's perhaps permanently. Yikes. Poor Texas.
I'm writing from the Lower Rio Grande Valley - the name for the string of communities along the last 200 miles or so of the Rio Grande before it dumps out into the Gulf of Mexico. This includes Brownsville, and McAllen, and smaller cities like Harlingen and Roma and Weslaco, and it's my third morning here.
I flew out here because it is current ground zero in the struggle against the border wall. I've been hired by the Sierra Club to make a short video about the environmental impact of the wall, and so I'm here trying to get interviews with local enviros and beautiful nature footage of the stretches of habitat along the river where DHS is planning to come in with bulldozers and piledrivers and whatever else and put in their big steel boondoggle, ruining this habitat and cutting off access to big parcels of public and private land that are extremely important to the wildlife and culture and economy down here.
And speaking of culture and economy, wow. Texas sure is different. In a way it's really America in a nutshell, an America I sometimes forget is out there... but I've said that about LA too. However, LA is just the bleach-blonde, boob-job America in a nutshell, whereas Texas is like, another level of America, the trailer park, cowboy, monster truck, baptist church America in a nutshell.
And yet this borderlands ribbon of South Texas is fascinating, as all the borderlands are. There's a unique culture as well as a unique ecological treasure (tons of amazing birds, ocelots, rare sabal palm trees, etc). There's an amazing mix of "Winter Texans" - mostly elderly folks who come down here to escape the winter, mostly in RVs - good 'ol boys, Mexicans, Mexican-Americans, vacationing college kids (south padre island is right off the coast here)... it's pretty interesting.
And into this mix wades the fascist police-state right wing, come to put up their little toy fence. This devastation is all so that Chertoff and Bush and all their political buddies can say they did something to stop the HUGE wave of terrorists sneaking in from Mexico (hah!), and so the racists and anti-immigrationists can feel a moment of satisfaction, at least until, sitting in their armchairs in Dallas and Denver and Boise and Sioux City and Boondocks, Ohio and wherever the hell else, they realize, finally looking closely at the map of the new construction, that we're talking about little 2 or 4 or 10 mile chunks of wall with huge 2 or 5 or 20 or 500 mile spaces in between, and that even the sections that have wall will only slow down migrants for about 3-10 seconds as they climb over, dig under, cut through, go around, or even just buy a fake visa instead.
Like I keep saying, Nothing will sway these people from coming except fixing the economic catastrophe that is destroying their countries and ruining their livelihoods - NAFTA and CAFTA and other trade policy foisted on them by the U.S. - because they're starving, and they don't care if you arrest them or hold them in a detention cell, because the alternative is to stay home and starve to death with their kids.
Ok, sorry, I went into rant mode. It's first thing in the morning and I just had my morning coffee and the caffeine is coursing through my veins. hah.
There's an extensive cover story in the current issue of the Phoenix New Times about Sherrif Joe Arpaio and the Maricopa County Attorney who are "teaching the rest of the nation how to terrorize illegal immigrants." I'd been hearing about Sheriff Joe's career of opressive and racist "policing" (a better word would be persecution) since I moved to Arizona, and in special detail lately from the excellent blog of a fellow Arizona Indymedia volunteer in Phoenix. But this article should be a great primer for anyone from out of state and/or is not familiar with what's going on in Maricopa county, and Arizona in general....
Basically for immigrants Arizona is really really sucking. And it's true, the worse it gets here, the more the national debate and resulting national policy gets dragged along the spectrum to the right.
The article is actually really intense and I couldn't even read it all. Some of the personal focus reads like the Diary of Anne Frank or something. It's just sick what people are doing to migrants who come to this state and this country.
Daniela has very few friends — there's no one she can trust not to report her, especially now that the county sheriff has an illegal immigration hotline.
She can't leave her house to buy groceries; she's heard that the sheriff stations deputies at Food City....
...She's learned how to walk quietly, to stay in the shadows. The only place Daniela allows herself to go is her children's elementary school. She volunteers there six hours a day. She says it's her responsibility to be active in her children's education. But when she walks to school (she won't drive, ever) she makes sure to go with one of her few friends or her kids.
How can we stop this? Can it be? In 50 years or so (given that total industrial collapse hasn't taken out everything anyway), will we look back at this time as a dark period of history where things went astray, like Germany in the 1930s, that we've recovered from?
Or will it be even worse?
On our way down to the beach in Mexico for xmas, we saw hundreds of cars loaded down with cargo, everything from bikes to mattresses to TVs to wrapped presents, driven by Mexicans returning south to their families from Arizona, California, and even further away. To some extent this happens every year, the now-good-wage earners bringing back gifts and necessities for their relatives, but I've heard that many many of these folks are going back for good this time. They're giving up. Those mattresses aren't Christmas gifts, they're their own beds.
They're going back, for good, because it's too hard, but what will they do? They're now rich by comparison to their family members who stayed behind, but for how long will their savings last when it has to support all their hermanas and hermanos and tias and abuelas?
In a way it's great that they will be reunited with these loved ones. But they came north because they had to. They and theirs had no other recourse, except for joining the ranks of the narcotraffickers. NAFTA had stripped them of their livelihood and dignity. Now Sheriff Joe and his ilk have stripped them of their last chance.
What will they do now? And what of the masses of others whose lives are about to be destroyed by the next phase of NAFTA, and those further south soon to be devasted by CAFTA?
And on a related note, what a refreshing surprise to see this article come out of the Phoenix New Times, which is part of a corporate chain that publishes cookie-cutter alt-weeklies around the country. The issue also covers the recent fiasco in which the New Times editors were jailed for a night for publishing news of the grand jury subpoena which demanded they turn over to the County Attorney all records of any stories they published about Sheriff Joe and anyone who looked at their website for the last 5 years.
This fascist bullshit didn't stand for long, and there was national outrage that caused the county to drop the charges immediately and fire the deputy attorney who was running the case.
Anyway, it's just great to see these journalists standing up for what's right and taking a progressive stance in Phoenix when here in Tucson, which is supposedly the most progressive big city in Arizona, we have this racist hate-rag the Tucson Weekly which regularly publishes the insulting drivel of assholes like Tom Danehy and Leo Banks.
An infuriating look back at 2007. Sigh.
Yesterday I went down to Naco for a protest of the border wall. A small protest. Cold and windy protest. The local paper covered it, at least.
I went down to film, and especially to interview young people from the community. There were about 5 punk or activist radical kids from Tucson, some not-so-young people like me from Tucson, a bunch of older folks from Bisbee and Naco, and that's about it, other than one 15 year old from Bisbee.
I interviewed her, but it was on a Canon XL-1 I had to borrow and I found out that XL-1s don't have built in external mic jacks, you have to buy separately a mic module that you attach. And the owner of the camera hadn't done that. We'll see how it turns out.
I had to borrow that camera because the Pan Left camera (we're down to just one now) I was going to use didn't get returned to the studio in time by the last person to use it. Really pissed me off. I'm at the point where I want to just buy my own nice camera. I just need another $2000 or so. So if you want to contribute to the Steev pro camera fund let me know, or donate online.
Here's a hilarious clip that demonstrates 1) again, how stupid Bush is and 2) how useless border barriers are.
And here's a pretty cool little video about local sentiment against the border wall in a small Texas town:
This short video about the No Borders Camp is the best general overview of the camp that I've seen so far. It's by Jeffrey Berringer, also known as the electopop bilingual musician Mono Mono. The video is unfortunately all in Spanish, but it's really good and I hope he makes a subtitled english version. I really like how it doesn't focus on the Border Patrol beatdown, it fairly and humanistically presents all the little successful inspiring times at the camp. It's great.
There's an online petition set up by the No Borders Camp legal defense team, asking the District Attorney to drop the charges against Juan Ruiz, the only No Borders Camper still facing charges - charges that he assaulted Border Patrol agents during the closing rally in Calexico Sunday November 11.
Please sign it. The video, which I've linked to before from this blog, shows pretty clearly that Juan was no danger to any federal agent present there. At the most, he was dancing a bit too enthusiastically for their unfunky souls.
And in other news, a lawyer in San Diego is starting to lay the groundwork for a civil suit against the Border Patrol on behalf of all the protesters they beat up that night.
It's too bad he can't file a class-action suit against the BP for all the migrants that get beat up, starved, denied water and medical attention, drugged, unfairly locked up, shot in the back, and other abuses all along the border all the time.
I just finished a short video piece that I'm pretty proud of about the border wall being built down at the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area.
A lot of people around here in Tucson love the San Pedro. It's really a special place. More than that, now it's a symbol of how little the Department of Homeland Security cares about anything but it's own powermad ambitions and empty gestures of pretending to secure our "homeland".
Watch the video here:
Another related bit of media is the audio recording I made of an ecology walk/talk given at the No Borders Camp, with lots of interesting information about the history of the Calexico/Mexicali area as it relates to water use, irrigation, Colorado River diversion, and the implications of the border and nationalism on the ecology and agriculture there.
I got back from Calexico late Sunday night, but in a way the No Borders Camp is still going on for me and many others. Myself, I spent a large part of the following 3 days working on media tasks related to getting the news out about the camp and the Border Patrol brutality on Sunday night. I worked with some other folks in Tucson to write a press release and compile a clip montage for mainstream TV stations, showing scenes from the camp all week in order to show that Sunday night's police riot was a surprising event compared to the calm and respectful negotiating and dealings that the migra had with us.
As it stands now, 2 of the 3 arrestees have been released with no charges. Guess which one is still in custody, sitting in a jail in Imperial County? That's right, the brown one. The non-U.S. citizen. He's a legal permanent resident, but any little crime is a good enough reason for the stormtroopers to throw your ass out.
It's lucky citizenship isn't revokable. Yet.
Meanwhile, other projects and aspects of life go on and I'm juggling a crazy schedule and trying to figure out how to get some kind of break. I - O and I - really need a vacation... and Turkey Day doesn't look like it's going to count...
But enough about me. The camp is still a big success. Yesterday was a bit intense in the morning when la migra objected to gringo campers giving breakfast to the mexican side, but eventually things got worked out.
The sun is rising in Calexico and I can't sleep. It's my third morning here and every morning I wake up shortly before sunrise, on the floor of a bedroom of a house that we've turned into an independent media center. Every morning I can't sleep too much later than this, despite the fact that I'm sick, have been fighting a cold for the last 3 weeks or so.
Sin embargo, nevertheless, I am happy. Even excited (maybe this is the real reason I can't sleep) - because the camp was successfully occupied yesterday. Like it's looked and felt for months, it was extremely uncertain and worrying for quite a while yesterday, with massive presence of various law enforcement agencies. But somehow, things went off relatively according to plan. Homeland Security and the cops were completely fooled by the ruse the organizers set up - to pretend to be going to a pick-up point where marchers would get on a bus to take them to a cemetary vigil, but actually, the pick-up point was the site for the camp. Some cops were even overheard to say, basically, "I don't know what they're doing, their bus just left."
Amazingly enough, there's even internet at the camp. A 45-foot tower with a wireless internet antenna is sitting in the backyard of the media house and beaming our connection 3 miles out into the desert to another tower that the campers have set up. Also, there were people getting in and out, bringing in water and food and supplies, for quite a few hours into the night, even with cars, although no one is sure if this will last and some reports were that the police later tightened things up so that people could get out but not in.
I was shooting some out there but for the end of the day found myself back in the media center uploading photos and doing radio. There are 2 streams, one from here and one from the Mexicali side, and the possibliity of another that will be the broadcast FM signal from the camp, if that gets set up.
Ruben Martinez, an author who is working on a new book about the border, recently visited us here in Tucson and went for a ride down to the San Pedro River's border crossing with some friends of mine. Today he has an op-ed in the LA Times about that trip and the recent border wall developments. He even mentions, obliquely, the No Borders Camp.
He has a great way with words, as with this beautiful and wise passage:
The Great Wall of America underscores a delusional faith in technology as the only solution to a problem that has nothing to do with technology. Ultimately, such Ozymandian monuments say more about the minds that conceived them than any "enemies" they actually contain. Think of the grandiose barriers of history -- the walls of Troy and China and Berlin; the wall that kept the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto. Think of their fate, their ultimate symbolism. Each began with the idea that people -- and their ideas -- could be restrained by barriers, just like rivers can be dammed. A simple feat of engineering.
And yet we believe that our wall will be the exception.
A week ago today I went down to Sasabe with another filmmaker and with O. He wanted to interview her about the effects on wildlife of the border wall, the subject of his new documentary, and I just tagged along.
Sasabe is a tiny little town bisected by the border, in the middle of the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, about 90 minutes southwest of Tucson. The new wall, part of the 370 new miles approved recently and being pushed frantically by Ministry of Fear, err, I mean Department of Homeland Security, is pretty much done at Sasabe, but the joke of it is that you can look off in the distance and see the ends of it a few miles on either side of the port of entry. So migrants and drug runners might have to walk a little bit out of their way if they weren't already avoiding the area by now. So stupid.
In other places the situation is more dire, like around the San Pedro River, a sensitive riparian area that they're planning to put wall right up to the banks of, and a cement road that cuts right through the stream for Border Patrol vehicles to easily cross at.. It's still not going to stop illegal border crossings, but it's going to fuck up a lot of sensitive species there.
In an attempt to earn some extra money and get some more exposure for this video, I uploaded to Current TV my coverage of the Binational Fiesta in Naco.
So if you have an account on their site or don't mind registering, please greenlight this piece. That is, if you like it. :-)
Last night at Solar Culture there was a great event organized by a local group called Tierra y Libertad, which is not only a community youth organizing group but also contains within it a hip hop group of the same name. They mix radical hip hop of a really high musical quality together with radical political organizing that is nevertheless firmly grounded in the latino community here in Tucson. The event last night was a fundraiser and an outreach event for their Stop the Raids campaign, working to educate the community about the ICE deportation raids going on and what immigrants' rights are. They had tons of educational material, books, CDs, videos, and the hip hop group performed as well as a rapper from DF called Akil Ammar who was really great and politically militant as well.
Here's a rough clip I shot with my phone of Tierra y Libertad.
Today is my 7th day in Germany and my 3rd day in Rostock, where the anti-G8 mobilzation is happening all this week.
Things are a lot calmer than the huge crazy protests on Saturday that I missed because I was still in Berlin. There has been constant tension with police, but nothing serious has actually happened, and one has to remember that the mainstream media reports are greatly exaggerated and focused on the violence and the extremes. I'm hoping to counter that in my own coverage, focusing instead on the issues, the real reason we're here.
Yesterday's focus was migration and borders. I spent all day shooting video of 3 dfiferent actions. This post to Indymedia Germany that I posted this morning has a brief description of each and some stills I shot. Then last night I went to a panel discussion on migration. What an exhausting time, and yet inspiring. It has been really good to see, after getting involved via my own proximity to the US-Mexico border, how other struggles over borders and immigration and migration compare and contrast. The commonalities really resonate. One really inspiring thing is the slogan which I used for the title of this blog post. I think this needs to start being used in the US, because it encapsulates the real problem so concisely.
All day so far today I have been editing the footage I shot, sitting here for the last 5 hours at the Indymedia Center in downtown Rostock, next to a window looking out over the harbor and the little yard where activists sit on couches and drink tea. Dozens of other indymedia people from all over the world (well, mostly Europe) come in and out, doing some work, posting some news to their own local IMCs, sending emails.
In a couple of hours is another panel dicussion that is part of the "Alternative Summit," a more moderate, NGO response to the G8 this week - I'm interested in a panel tommorrow though because John Holloway will be there - the author of "Change the World Without Seizing Power," a book whose main ideas I found extrememly inspiring but whose academic tone made it the biggest reading disappointment of 2006 for me. However I still hope he will be interesting to hear speak.
I'm sitting here waiting for my finished video to upload. I'll post again to say where it is. I'm tired of waiting...
During the big immigration march and rally in Los Angeles yesterday the police apparently went apeshit for no reason. (via mi amiga Abi)
We were lucky enough to have well-behaved cops, for once, in Tucson yesterday. They didn't even enter the park all day and they kept the racist vigilantes away across the street.
Great video from The Onion:
Immigration: The Human Cost
I'm in San Diego for a few days to show my Juarez film. I'm staying with friends whose house is like a major waystation for activists, journalists, and other cool people passing through town. Right now there's a Peruvian who's been staying at the Cucapa camp in the Colorado River "delta" for the last 2 months and travelling with La Otra Campaña before that. He's going back to the camp today with a photojournalist from Brooklyn who just arrived last night to take shots of the last high-tide fishing outing the Cucapa will do for the season. Another photojournalist, from Germany, is here taking photos of the border wall. He just published a book of panoramic photos from The Occupied Territories called simpy "Wall". They are beautiful and of course disturbing.
The Brooklyn photog brought a copy of the latest issue of National Geographic that has a really great piece about the border Wall, with incredible photos from all along the U.S.-Mexico border and text by Charles Bowden. Most of Bowden's text is focused, as an exemplar, on Naco. It's too bad that he apparently wasn't aware, when he wrote it, that the cross-border fiesta was going to be happening again.
The screening of my film had an amazing number of students turnout at San Diego State yesterday. This morning I'm showing it at City College as part of a series of human rights films there sponsored by the local Amnesty International.
The ocean air is wonderful here in San Diego.
As I mentioned as an upcoming event a couple weeks ago on this blog, a cross-border party happened in the tiny border town of Naco (Arizona and Sonora).
Here's the short video I made about the event:
You can also download the video here.
I'm excited about going to this event in a week and a half:
I plan to take a camera and document it. I like that it's been going on for years and that it's a smaller (and perhaps less "radical") but very real version of my vision of what the No Borders Camp in November could be like.
"The Arizona Senate passed a resolution on Friday that would create a civilian militia to hunt undocumented immigrants along the border. Senate Bill 1132 establishes a volunteer civilian security force under the direction of the Governor. Members would receive military and police training once a month."
(via Mexico Solidarity Network)
This weekend is a big gathering here in Tucson of border activists from all over the place, organized by a collective I'm part of, BLAC (an acronym which has many meanings, including Border Line Anarchy Collective, Border Lands Action Committee, and Bunny Loving Animal Cuddlers). It's been keeping me very busy. A lot of yesterday I spent working on a booklet that includes the schedule, map, and other information, along with a packet of relevant articles. Then we were at the copy shop for a few hours making copies of all this stuff. People start arriving at midnight tonite and it will keep going till monday night. It's been crazy making it happen and will continue to be so, i'm sure, but it will be great. I'm excited about meeting all these people and organizing with them for the No Border Camp in November which is the main reason for having this gathering.
Cool, a graduate political science course at MIT is using a photo I took in Nogales of the border wall on their webpage about the class. The class is called Globalization, Migration, and International Relations.
I'm still about 2 weeks behind on uploading photos. Here's some shots from the semi-big, semi-useless border march and rally down in Nogales on October 7.
(there were some less useless things that happened, like when our little border-radical group painted some new messages on the wall - sadly only on the Mexican side, but it was right where the march ended)
I was shooting video most of the time so i don't have a lot of really great stills.
By the way, Jason Aragon of Pan Left has already edited a little piece. Unfortunately it's on myspace, but whatever.
This past weekend I and 4 other Tucson activists drove to San Diego for the Roots of Resistance Summer Camp. The Organic Collective had organized it to get people, mostly border activists, to come and share skills and talk about plans.
It was a really great time and really inspiring. I now feel re-energized to get going on a few new or neglected projects, tho i also feel a little like these things, if i go through with them, may wind up making me feel overwhelmed, overobligated, and possibly even burned out, along with all the other things I'm doing or getting back into doing here in Tucson, now that I'm back. Need to work on finding balance and prioritization.
I took a few photos, not only of the camp but our brief visit to the border wall on the beach - where there are gaps in the wall right now big enough that people can easily squeeze through, and do. Mexicans were casually slipping over and wandering the sand, but a border patrol truck on the hill was making sure no one went too far. We played soccer and talked with some of the Tijuanans for awhile. It was really cool.
The whole weekend was just really really awesome.
A quite good article in the Independent (the UK paper, not a misspelling of the NYC IMC one), covers the efforts of the Samaritans and No More Deaths to prevent migrant deaths in the desert around here. The author talks to and refers to several people I know. I feel honored to know them. They're heroes.
But I think the most important thing is this question and answer with Steve Johnston, one of the long-term volunteers who ran the NMD camp in Arivaca all summer:
What does he say to the argument that his work actually encourages illegal immigration?
"We've never run into anyone out here who knew who we were, or why we were here," he says "Everyone is totally surprised. I'm certain we have no impact whatsoever on encouraging people."
This is important because the biggest legitimate-seeming criticism, I think, from racists and other anti-immigrants is that idea that by helping these people we're encouraging more to come. It would be interesting for some reporter to travel Mexico and ask people, "hey, are you aware that if you cross in southern arizona you might run into some nice people in the desert who'll give you water and food?" It sounds like none of them have any idea, and I've heard most of them also have no clue how difficult it is to get across the desert. That's why they come so unprepared, for instance with only a single gallon of water wearing dress clothes.
Yesterday Jessica and Stacy and I drove down to Nogales at 6 in the morning to volunteer at the No More Deaths project there. For the past couple months this summer NMD has had a presence in Nogales, Mexico, working with the Comision Estatal de Atencion a Migrantes, The State Commission for Attention to Migrants. They have a tent set up just past the border crossing at the Mariposa port, which is a port of entry mostly for trucking, a few miles outside of town.
The Border Patrol brings Mexicans (or migrants they think are Mexicans) who are being deported from the Tucson sector to this border crossing. They bring them in huge ominous looking unmarked white buses, and they make them walk across the line. Volunteers from No More Deaths are there around the clock to meet the migrants and give them water, snacks, information, and medical care if they need it.
We were there from 7am till about 1230 pm. It was a slow day compared to normal, according to other volunteers who had been there before. We had a surplus of volunteers, too. I brought a video camera and wanted to get footage, but I also wanted to have the experience of helping these people. But since it was a slow day, after I had helped with a couple bus loads, there were no other buses and so I didn't really get any footage of the migrants. I did do some interviews, but I definitely don't have enough to do anything with. However, it looks like the project will continue, and so i'll go back a few more times and shoot more. It's really a worthwhile thing to do and to document, I think.
It's very moving to see this end of the migration process. The green-uniformed Migra marching people across the line like hall monitors escorting kids in elementary school. The people, in varying states of fatigue and health and spirits, trudging towards us. The expressions of confusion and then thanks when they realize what we're doing. Practicing my spanish, asking if they want water and if they have blisters (I heard a story of a nurse who was volunteering there who didn't know spanish, she was just taught the 2 phrases "Quieres Agua? Tienes Ampollas?" (do you want water? Do you have blisters?) - But she mixed them up at one point and ended up asking if people wanted blisters and if they had water. heh) I'll post photos later on my flickr pages....
There's another similar project in Aqua Prieta, the border town across from Douglas, Arizona. NMD volunteers and local Mexican and US groups do the same thing with migrants being returned there. I want to visit there too sometime soon.
Lots of other stuff, so much other stuff, happening, here, to me and people I care about, but I'm sort of tired of blogging. Especially tired of blogging about stuff that's too personal and stressing about if it's okay to do that and what to post, etc. And I'm sort of tired and bored with blogging about the impersonal stuff. So maybe I should just stop. Or maybe I'll just blog just experiences like this one that are MY experiences, but that aren't too much about me or my friends. seems like a good compromise. yeah.
Dissident Voice printed a speech given in Tucson by Joe Nevins, an academic from Vassar who wrote a book about Operation Gatekeeper and spent a couple months in Tucson this summer doing press stuff for No More Deaths. I have not finished reading it ( I would have been present if I'd been in town), but it looks good, and here's a really interesting excerpt:
That migrants are constructed as geographically -- in addition to socio-politically -- outside helps explain why fears about terrorists and criminals from abroad translate into a focus on territorial boundaries to a much greater extent than fears about purveyors of violence from within the United States. Consider, for example, the case of Timothy McVeigh, who, on April 19, 1995, bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 167 people and injuring hundreds more. McVeigh was not from Oklahoma City, nor even from the state of Oklahoma. Indeed, he crossed state boundaries to commit his crime. Had such movement been restricted, it might have been more difficult for McVeigh to do what he did. Nonetheless, his horrific act did not result in any attempt to restrict movement across state boundaries within the United States. The reason why is clear: he was a U.S. citizen (and a native-born one) with the right to unimpeded travel across national territory. He was not an outsider. He was a white male and a military veteran. He was -- in terms of the dominant perception of what an American looks like -- one of "us." Thus, his crime did not involve a perceived geographical transgression even though movement across space was a key element of his act. Given this perception, territorial security -- at least one conceived in any way similar to that applied along the U.S.-Mexico boundary -- is not the response. In the case of threats -- real or imagined -- emanating from south of the border, however, they are perceived as being primarily territorial in nature and thus necessitate a response involving a build-up of physical boundaries.
If my blogging software permitted, this post would be marked not only in the personal category but in every other category that I've defined, and more. That's because this entry is about how many different things I'm involved with and how that's a problem.
But before I get too far into that I will link to a post i just published on another blog that I seldom use, on the delete the border site, relating recent news about arizona border crossing deaths and stuff.
Now I move on into saying this: I'm doing too much and I need to figure out how to jettision some stuff if i intend to feel better about myself and stay sane, because very little of it is getting done in a quality way. Here's the list, or everything i can think of now:
The most important things are 2, 7, 11, and 12. A few other things are impossible to get rid of right now. The rest I need to just tell people "sorry, I can't be there." Sigh.
The nice thing, though is that, as usual, just making a list of everything makes it seem like a lot less of a problem. so, yay....
Rick Perry, governor of Texas, is planning to install surveillance cameras on the border that stream on the internet. They'll be watchable by the public and anyone will be able to call a toll-free number and report an illegal border crossing.
This reminds me of the excellent web comic (one of the best I've ever seen) from a few years ago called Spiders, about an alternate history where Al Gore won the 2000 election, Afghanistan still gets invaded, but the U.S. uses lots of non-lethal technology and little robot webcams wander the battlefields - allowing anyone on the internet to tune in and help spot abuses and ambushes and whatever else.
Yesterday I spent roughly 12 hours out in the world doing may day stuff. Helped fold the pamphlet. Went to Armory Park where the big rally/teachin was all day. Set up Dry River table. Handed out tons of copies of the pamphlet. Drank lots of water and gatorade. Shot a bunch of footage, but not too much. I'm getting pretty good at economizing tape. Hours of sitting at the editing suite logging pointless footage has really learned me.
Anyway, most of the day was spent just sitting around with the camera on the off chance that something bad would happen, like on April 10 (when I felt bad for leaving early and not being their to film the crap that went down). Only a couple things did, and none as bad as April 10. Only a total of 6 anti-immigrant counterprotesters, 2 or 3 at a time, and they were pretty mild-mannered, and kept across the street by the police. no burning mexican flags this time. The police were annoying. At the end of the afternoon they were like cranky tired children. I plan to post a clip of the bike cops acting like 12 year olds zooming their bikes around in circles. The peacekeepers were annoying. Some of my Dry River compas were too. I plan to write more about that later. Or maybe it's not worth it. Same old liberal-anarchist squabbling. sad.
Called a report in to Portland IMC Radio. Took a short recon mission out to Reid Park where a rally of the border vigilantes was supposedly happening. We didn't find anyone. Then later I heard they had the rally later that evening. oh well.
Jessica, stuck at work, kept some of us updated via txtmob. It was cool being outside at Armory Park eating rice and beans from Comida No Migra and getting messages on my phone like "Indybay reports police are stopping 15,000 from marching in Bakersfield." Then someone reporting from the stage over the PA "In Nogales not a single car has crossed today." wow.
Mostly it was a pleasant day in the park with good music and the inspiration of having all those people around participating in a momentous time in history.
Afterward I invited stillsecretperson over for mojitos. It was the perfect end to a hot tiring day out in the sun.
Then I went to a potluck in the park. Dry River kids and anarchists from Phoenix and Flagstaff, in town for May Day. I brought fresh lemondade I made from lemons from the tree in our yard. Then we all went to the Dry River space and I picked out a pile of relevant zines from the infoshop that we could bring to table at the teach-in/rally today. Then I went to kinko's and made copies of a new bilingual Arizona Indymedia flier that I made.
So yesterday was long and busy. Today is going to be even longer and busier. But more exciting.
For the past couple weeks I've been working with folks from AZ Indymedia, Dry River Collective, and Organic Collective in San Diego to produce a bilingual pamphlet that would inform people about the historical/political context of May Day, relating the current immigrant rights upswell to other struggles both past and present. We're going to be printing up a few thousand copies in Tucson today, but we have it available as a downloadable PDF file. It's an 11x17 double-sided design that we're encouraging groups in other cities to download, print, and distribute on May 1.
In a phone conversation the other day a friend said (i'm paraphrasing) that he saw himself in his current situation at his new job at a giant spanish-language media company as getting a chance to move the discourse or rhetoric or identity definitions around this amazing new civil rights movement by some small distance, just nudge it a little. I said that's what everyone's trying to do right now, from national politicians to punk zinesters. So, this pamphlet is part of my microscopic nudging. enjoy.
One thing I forgot to mention in my blog entry last night about the film "Crossing Arizona" was something ACLU legal observer Ray Ybarra said at the beginning of it: "If you want to understand immigration in this country, come to Arizona."
That underscores what I've been realizing more and more recently. The more I learn about the immigration issue and especially undocumented migrants and dying border crossers, the more I realize that ground zero is right here in southern Arizona. Over half of the border crossing deaths every year are in Arizona.
When I moved here I knew the issue was big here, but had not seen statistics like that. I didn't know that, far more than in any other border state, a huge percentage of the land within 100 miles of the border is federal land. And there are all sorts of other facts and figures I can throw out but I haven't had breakfast yet. Basically though, this is the place.
The border vigilantes known as The Minutemen got into trouble trespassing on private property during their operations looking for undocumented border crossers near Three Points, Arizona. ACLU observers shot this video of the property owner getting angry at them.
I've been in a bit of a flamewar with some aquaintances in Portland because I dared to tell them that I might have a different, less naive notion of what's going on with the border and immigration after living in the borderlands for awhile and spending 18 months making a film about what is at least partially a border issue (the femicide in Juárez). In a place like southern Arizona one is just surrounded, soaking, in "the border" and all its cultural and political ramifications. But people a thousand+ miles from Mexico desparately want to believe that if they just read enough liberal articles on the web while they sit in their cubicle at work that they have a firm grasp on reality and a good idea of what's going on and then have a right to spout their half-formed theories.
Not that I'm an expert or trying to be holier-than-tho. I'm really just starting to work on this stuff; but my point is that just by being here, in the borderlands, you can't help but be exposed to a greater complexity of notions about immigration and the border.
Another place where immigration is a huge issue is Australia. I remember when I was there in 2001 how ever-present the issue of refugees and detainment camps was in the media and in the discussions of intelligent people.
One thing I think they should have done something with in the spoof is taken advantage of the incredibly ripe-for-detourning part of the original where they say "and Bill's on his way down to open the front gate." Open the front gate for who? Sometimes just letting portions of a text simply hang itself is the best satire of all.
I threw together, literally in about 6 hours of editing, a short 11-minute video (47 meg download) about what happened here in Tucson on Monday with the immigrant rights marches and rally. It's a bit sloppy but still something I'm proud of, and it was a nice example of a collaborative effort with Pan Left Productions, the video collective I'm a member of. Four of us shot footage, then everyone got their tapes to the studio right after and I started capturing. Finished up cutting yesterday afternoon and then encoded it this morning and uploaded it. Hopefully I will soon have it encoded into some other formats too for maximum compatibility.
It covers a lot of ground - the student marches, the main march, the rally, some debate with some counterprotesters, some tension in the park over the counterprotesters, and the sad ending to the day.
I hope you like it.
I'm sitting in on a No More Deaths meeting at Epic cafe at 7:30 am. The core organizers meet every single weekday morning here!
I'm here because I couldn't sleep, and the internet was down at my house, and I wanted to work on my indymedia story about yesterday. I'm not getting a lot done because I'm in the meeting, half-listening.
Anyway, these people do so much. It's incredible.
This has been a crazy day. Huge marches and rallies here in Tucson that I was at from 8:30 am to now. I'm too fried to write an indymedia article with any pretension of journalistic rigor so i'm blogging about it first.
I started with 200 students who'd walked out of Tucson High School. Marched with them downtown to the federal building. Met other students from other schools. about 600 in total, we then marched to Armory Park to meet the main march coming from South Tucson. The rally started before the main march had reached the park and there were about 2000 already there by the time the main march arrived, and it was HUGE. it's hard to estimate, some were saying 5,000, some 10, some 20,000. it went on for blocks and blocks and blocks, taking up all lanes of 6th ave.
People packed into the little park and the whole time while the rally went on, off to one side was a little knot of about 6-8 anti-immigrant protesters and vigilanted types, holding offensive signs and just standing there trying to provoke a reaction and ruin things. And it ended up that they did.
For 3 hours, peacekeepers ringed these assholes with arms locked, making sure no one fucked with them and started a full-fledged riot. The cops SHOULD have done something, should have removed them, because the park had actually been RENTED by the Immigrant Rights groups. But the cops just stood there and let whatever happen.
At the end of the rally, a teenage girl finally had had enough and she tried to splash some water on the anti-immigrants. She didn't even succeed, she ended up splashing the peacekeepers. but the cops swooped in and arrested her, things went crazy, pepperspray started flying. it sucked, and i'm sure the mainstream media will latch onto that as the one thing to report about the day.
Well, this Saturday, April 1, The Minutemen are revving up their operations again in Arizona. They're having a rally/press conference in Altar Valley, which is pretty near to Tucson, south. I wish I could be there but I'll be in Juárez. It looks like the ACLU will have legal observers out there again. I haven't heard of any other progressive, pro-immigrant response planned yet.