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Rage One (blog)

lunes, octubre 13, 2008

"Phoenix, Arizona is the new Birmingham, Alabama." (Aura Bogado)

Maricopa County Series

"Phoenix, Arizona is the new Birmingham, Alabama."

These were the words that first lead me to Maricopa County, Arizona, home to Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Arpaio made a name for himself some years ago when he forced prisoners to live in tents in the middle of the desert and revived chain gangs. Now, Arpaio has expanded his scope and says he is targeting illegal immigration.

But critics in Maricopa County disagree – they say what he is doing is instituting hate and racial profiling, and using an agreement he made with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to question, detain and arrest anyone with brown skin. Sound far-fetched? Consider the brown man I spoke with who was pulled over because children jumping up and down in his car – despite the fact no children were even in the vehicle. He says he was questioned about his immigration status, even though he was a licensed, registered and insured driver that had not broken any laws. I nearly convinced him to talk to me on tape but he would not; like nearly everyone else I spoke with, he is scared of retaliation from Sheriff's deputies.

And if you think that sounds far-fetched, consider the fact that deputies recently arrested the ACLU's Legal Director Dan Pochoda. His crime? Parking in a private parking lot. That arrest is not to be confused with the arrests of a journalists and New Times founders Him Larkin and Michael Lacey, after the two wrote a rather unfavorable article about Arpaio. These examples begin to scratch at the surface of the oppression and retaliation taking place in Phoenix and surrounding towns and cities.

Some weeks ago, local activists began protesting outside Sheriff Arpaio's offices, which are housed in the Wells Fargo Plaza building – and they are demanding Wells Fargo not renew his lease. Now, activists in Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco are joining them, by protesting outside of various Wells Fargo buildings in those cities. I wasn't alive during the struggle in Birmingham, but I do know that what happened there sparked a nationwide civil rights movement calling for an end to segregation. Now, what is happening in Phoenix is inspiring people around the nation to action, calling for an end to hate and racial profiling.

Please join me Tuesday, October 14 when Free Speech Radio News begins a series on series on Maricopa County. We will hear from people who say they have been targeted, from local activists, from the Mayor's Office, and from Sheriff Joe Arpaio himself. That's on, beginning Tuesday.

Please forward this email to your friends and colleagues. Attached are two audio files promoting the series; feel free to use them on your radio station, blog, website, or social networking site.

Aura Bogado R.

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