There are so many indescribable words that can portray yesterdays [March 20th2012] act of bravery and resistance by six undocumented students. These six students stepped up to the plate, without anyone telling them to. Why? Because they believed it was time to take matters into their own hands. Tired of not seeing any progress, and wanting to empower their communities, they did what many of us would not expect six undocumented (not to mention two minor aged) students to do. They mobilized and faced the Phoenix Police Department challenging to have Arpaio to come and get them. The six students asked for Arpaio to detain them; why? Because this is act that he does every single day in Maricopa County and that is arrest innocent people because they are “
The students had a four and a half hour stand off in the corner of 75th Ave and Cheery Lynn waiting and calling for Arpaio to come and arrest them.
Shouting at the top of their lungs to the community and the entire world that they are
UNDOCUMENTED and UNAFFRAID!
Unafraid of a constant reality of deportation that they face each and every day since the day they cross this artificial border that many of us recognize as the United States.
The students strategically chose the location of Trevor Browne High School because this school is located in West Phoenix a highly concentrated Latino community that Joe Arpaio has targeted for years with his raids. [A raid, otherwise known as a “crime suppression sweep” began in 2007 when Arpaio gained access to 287(g) which enabled him to box off a community always a community that is heavily concentrated Chicano and migrant. Then MCSO and Sheriffs Posse members proceed to pull over anyone who looks suspicious of being in the community “illegally.”] This community belongs to several of the students arrested who wanted to show their peers, family, and community that each and everyone of them is bigger and stronger than Arpaio. The students stressed that only through organizing and without fear can a subjugated community grow strong and take down a monster who has done nothing but only harass and traumatize communities and spread hate across the state of Arizona.
Six students came out of the darkness and into the streets letting the community know that they are here, and they are here to stay. Within 4pm there was a banner with Subcomandante Marcos’ face and over 50 supporters circling the students who had taken over the streets. Pedestrians and commuters in their cars waited and observed this act of civil disobedience.
While blocking off the streets, the 6 students gave their testimonies of what their every day reality looks like as an undocumented youth living in a police state. All of the students could recall their voyage to the United States as small children walking through the Sonoran Desert. This act of resistance only inspired several other students and even parents of the six students who took that opportunity to also come out of the shadows and let the community recognize that they too are undocumented and unafraid. Witnessing the parents of these students’ support and stand by their children was inspirational and emotional. These students were doing it for their familias, to defend and protect their families. Many of the students stressed that their biggest fear is coming home to an empty house, or receiving a call that their parents did not come home after going to the grocery store because they were picked up and deported. This should not be a fear that any teenager or anyone should have.
Within 5pm there were several helicopters and over 75 police officers in riot gear waiting and assessing the situation at hand. Why were police officers over armed and over dressed in riot gear. To stop a bomb? To handle a riot? No to arrest six students who were sitting down and chanting “Undocumented and Unafraid.” As the police officers got closer the chants became louder.
“No paper no fear immigrants are marching here!”
“No justice no peace no racist police!”
The police officers were now less than ten feet away from the students. The students parents and family members approached the 6 brave students and kissed them and said good-bye, for they did not know how long it would be until they would see their children again.
The police proceeded and arrested the students one by one. One by one they were taken into the paddy wagon. The spectators were in mixed emotions; there were some who were in tears, and others who were inspired. As for me I was very upset that the state of Arizona is so unjust and cruel that it takes people to act in civil disobedience to get attention from Joe Arpaio and deliver a message that we are here and want our rights. I was also PROUD of each and every student who stood up for themselves and their family and their dignity! Everyday there are protests, everyday there are people organizing against this racism, and every single day and every single hour there are people being deported and separated from their families. These students did what they felt in their hearts that they should have done, and they did it with no fear and their head held high. To me these 6 students are brave and inspiring people. These are the students that are willing to put everything including their lives and futures on the line to do what is right in the state of Arizona.
Several of the people who are speaking out against this action are stating that some of the students are too young, or that this was the wrong way to approach the situation. I would call to question all of you and ask if you are aware that there are plenty of MINORS who are picked up and deported every single day. There are children and students who are filling up foster homes (at the maximum rate in US history) because they have been torn away from their families. In the United States we have 1,000 deportations that have taken place under the Obama administration. YES WE CAN deport everyone is the current democratic and Republican agenda. The Obama administration has released statements that they will reach their quota of deporting at least 400,000 people a year. Every hour families are being torn apart, at this moment while you are reading this someone has been racial profiled because of 287(g) and this person will not be home to see their family…again. Students are in a constant state of danger. Mothers and children are in danger. EVERYONE IS IN DANGER! If Arpaio is not being stopped under Obama who can PASS THE DREAM ACT! Obama who can stop all the POLIMIGRA agreements and the criminalization of our communities, then what else can people do but fight back?
All of the students were released from Arpaio’s jail within 24 hours. The two minors were released the same night at 2am. This reaffirmed the students message that if we organize as a community, no one can fall victim to Arpaio. ICE refused to take in the 4 students, which turned Joe Arpaio (who on the day of the action stated that he was not going to arrest students, he wanted criminal “aliens”) into an infuriated man. He sent out a press release stating that ICE did not do its job by taking 4 “illegals” and deporting them. This is a victory! This is a message for the community, one that we need to look at and learn from. We are safer, stronger, and powerful when we are standing together.
El Pueblo Unido Hamas Sera Vencido!
Below are links to see more videos and view more pictures of the action:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbBxHC-u6Yk&feature=youtu.be (video by Chandra Narcia)
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150617813885794.388022.618135793&type=3 (photos by Diane Ovalle)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMK6meh5KYU&feature=related (Virdiana’s testimony by Dream Activist.org)