Phoenix Talking briefly with Pablo Alvarado, head of NDLON, and Salvador Reza, perhaps the principal spark plug behind the march and rally to block implementation of SB 1070, the racial profiling, anti-immigrant law that is scheduled to be implemented in two months, I asked how it was looking and what they were hoping for. Salvador laughed as he tried to be restrained and said, “20,000,” and then with a delay, added, “plus 100,000,” and we all laughed. How long would the march be today in temperatures expected to snuggle up to towards 100 degrees? Salvador again quickly said, “Five and a half miles.” Good, I said, I had heard it might be over six. Salvador quickly laughed and said, “don’t repeat that and get a rumor started.” I rejoined, “hey,the door’s shut.” Salvador has a reputation for the long march, and this was going to be a great one.
If the numbers nudged past 20000 towards 50000 with an opening rally at Indian Steel Park from 8 until 10 AM, it could take between 30 minutes and an hour to empty the park, and on the slow pace maybe three hours to march to the capital and four to get everyone there. Best case scenarios would have tens of thousands marching through the midday heat on the blistering Phoenix streets. This was serious business!
On the day of the rally and march the competition of the Memorial Day weekend may have pushed the numbers a little. I think we hit Salvador’s 20,000, but not sure how many more were there, if any. It was an exciting crowd with whole families piling out of pick-up trucks to come down. Sun was hot in this “sweat for justice,” people were prepared, Mexican vendors were everywhere as if we were in a town plaza in old Mexico. Once you looked past all of the Legalize Arizona t-shirts everywhere, it was all DYI, American and Mexican flags, costumes, union and other shirts, and, my favorite, white t-shirts with magic markers with 1070 messages. The DC communications folks would have gone crazy at this event!
But, from Pablo’s opening remarks, the message was clear: (1) Obama stop 1070 with lawsuits (2) Stop profiling, (3) Obama end cooperation with local and state authorities on immigration, (4) create real reform on immigration with a path to legalization. A big sign the shape of a huge sheet called on Obama to walk his talk.
This was a good crowd and a great event, led by the Arizona local organizations and driven by the National Day Labor Organizing Network (NDLON) more than anyone else. They have kept the pressure on.
It can’t stop. Arizona can’t be allowed to become Alabama decades ago. The America of today cannot be allowed to become the America of the 50’s, Dwight Eisenhower, and Richard Nixon.
We all took a stand for the future in Phoenix.