In Arizona, Al Sharpton Urges Civil Disobedience

New America Media, News Report, Valeria Fernández Posted: May 06, 2010

PHOENIX, Ariz.—Black civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton led a prayer vigil here on Wednesday at which he called for mass civil disobedience against the state’s new anti-immigration law.

Some 2,500 people in the diverse gathering at the Phoenix Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church signed pledges to join Sharpton, who vowed to commit civil disobedience if the law were to take effect.

The law, SB 1070, would make it a state crime for a person to be in Arizona without legal documents. It goes into effect on July 29.

“They are trying to legalize something that will only lead to racial profiling,” said Sharpton.

“We will bring people into Arizona in the spirit of the “freedom rides,” he said, referring to protests of the 1960s civil rights movement against segregation in the south.

Several politicians and community activists spoke during the gathering, including City Council Member Michael Nowakowski and Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox. Bishop Alexis Thomas and Rev. Eric Lee, of the California Southern Christian Leadership Conference, also spoke.

“This is not about immigrants taken out of the streets. This is about who is next,” said Phoenix City Council Member Michael Johnson. The former police officer recently alleged he was the victim of racial profiling.

The event ended with Sharpton leading a nighttime march through the heart of downtown Phoenix that stretched for blocks. The numbers seemed to grow as people joined along. Some stepped out of restaurants to express support or waved from balconies.

Others wore T-shirts that read, “I’m an illegal.” Voices joined in the chant: “El pueblo unido jamás sera vencido,” and “What do we want: justice.”

“I don’t want my parents to have to go back to Mexico,” said Daisy Molina, 13, one of the many young faces in the crowd. “I need them here to support me in my education.”

Sean Artist, 43, held a sign reading, “Stop the Hate.” “I don’t want to be pulled over and sent to Africa,“ he said. Artist, who is African American, said he has many Mexican friends.

“They allowed them to come here and build the country and now they want them out,” he said. “That’s not fair.”

Despite the increased fear caused by the new law several undocumented immigrants decided to join the march. Among them was Catalina Vargas, 67, a former farm worker.

“I’m going to fight as much as I can for legalization,” said Vargas, who marched out front holding an American flag.

Vargas was touched by the words of Sharpton.

“Like what he said, we are all one person," she said. "Regardless of our color or where we come from.”

Related Articles:

Apartheid Hits Arizona

Arizona’s Law May Spark Pro-Immigrant Movement

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User Comments

Benito on May 12, 2010 at 12:52:36 said:

“All Men are created equal”! The founders had it right, when attempting to form a perfect union and they also knew that they were not there yet but knew we one day would get there. Lincoln moved us forward as did JFK and LBJ. This Nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. It was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.

It is my contention that this AZ law is not constitutional and will fail when challenged (unless they add more amendments), pretty funny for this so called perfect law.

Rodolfo Plata on May 10, 2010 at 05:45:33 said:

El gobierno y los empresarios mexicanos deben seguir el ejemplo del lobby judío. Invirtiendo en el cabildeo y las campañas electorales de los políticos chicanos, a fin de promover las leyes y gobiernos que nos beneficien; lo cual ha permitido a esa minoría privilegiada saquear y someter a Norteamérica desde los años treinta, sin que nadie se oponga.

Chuckie on May 08, 2010 at 01:38:09 said:

I've had enough of Arizona, I'm shutting off my factory and moving it anywhere else. I'm tired of my people being treated as they are. Yes, Arizona, you're losing more business, SAYONARA!!!

l00ker on May 07, 2010 at 08:34:44 said:

When civil disobedience turns into civil disturbance and disruption, then it's time to bring out the water cannons, and rock and roll.

HANIF BEY on May 06, 2010 at 20:27:08 said:

I'm with shutting down the Arizonan Nazi's but this dude Al Sharpton is a fake. If there were no cameras he wouldn't be there blowing his whistle! He cares more about the publicity he himself gets than the cause he's supposedly "fighting" for! He aint no revolutionary... he's a old school punk still looking for his five minutes of fame!

Paul on May 06, 2010 at 16:01:05 said:

Also, comments like the one that Sharpton should be met with high-powered water cannons...

I'm hearing this type of rhetoric far too frequently these days.

Remember the FIRST AMENDMENT people! You take so much pride in the SECOND AMENDMENT. Don't forget about the other parts of the Constitution.

People have a right to speak up in this country. You want the police to silence them with water cannons?

You would fit in better in a place like Communist China.

Paul on May 06, 2010 at 15:58:03 said:

I am so happy to see that people are publicly opposing this atrocious law that will go into effect this July.

However, I am concerned that a law like this has gotten so much support also. It seems like the debate over this is fueled by anger and hateful rhetoric. I fear that this country is losing sight of the fact that we are a Nation of immigrants.

Whatever happened to "give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses yearning to breath free..."??

l00ker on May 06, 2010 at 15:49:29 said:

Civil disobedience should be met with high-powered water cannons, so give Sharpton his 5 minutes.

Benito on May 06, 2010 at 15:44:12 said:

I hope that every American, regardless of where he lives, will stop and examine his conscience about this and other related incidents. This Nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. It was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened. All of us ought to have the right to be treated as he would wish to be treated, as one would wish his children to be treated, but this is not the case.

I know the proponents of this law say that the majority approves of this law, but the majority is not always right. Would women or non-whites have the vote if we listen to the majority of the day, would the non-whites have equal rights (and equal access to churches, restaurants, hotels, retail stores, schools, colleges and yes water fountains) if we listen to the majority of the day? We all know the answer, a resounding, NO!

Today we are committed to a worldwide struggle to promote and protect the rights of all who wish to be free. In a time of domestic crisis men of good will and generosity should be able to unite regardless of party or politics and do what is right, not what is just popular with the majority. Some men comprehend discrimination by never have experiencing it in their lives, but the majority will only understand after it happens to them.

ChaparralRespectsNoBorders on May 06, 2010 at 14:45:25 said:

You know that poem that starts off with "THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist." Well, I had always interpreted it as meaning that you should care not because one day it will be you they go after, but you should care because it is happening to someone else who could easily be you. What does it mean if those who make themselves out to be spokespeople for a movement are not fully behind the ones most affected?

It's inspiring that so many different kinds of people are coming out against Arizona's SB1070 immigration bill, due to go into effect in a few months. However, it may not be obvious to all, but there are major discrepancies between politicians and so-called leadership, and the people. For example, while you have undocumented immigrants and their allies at these demonstrations wearing things like t-shirts or signs that say "I'm an illegal", others are focused on racial profiling.

More at my blog

Dave on May 06, 2010 at 14:23:59 said:

“They allowed them to come here and build the country" Who allowed them in? It wasn't me. If it was ICE, they should be fired for not doing their job.




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