In recent weeks, the New Orleans' Workers Center for Racial Justice has been sending activists from their organization to Arizona to document and stand in solidarity with the grassroots immigrants' rights movement in that state. Since the passage of SB 1070, the notorious Arizona law that legalizes racial profiling, Arizona legislators have also passed laws that ban ethnic studies and attack teachers based on perceived accents. In short, they are creating an atmosphere that is unsafe and unlivable for many, and it is time to fight back.
On Mother's Day, a delegation of national feminists and labor leaders, journalists and organizers - including several folks from the New Orleans Workers Center - went to Arizona to record the experiences of women and children in the wake of this bill.
According to a recent report from the Workers Center, "The testimonies we heard make clear in vivid and haunting detail that SB 1070 constitutes a violation of principles we hold dear. The draconian legislation has paved the way for assaults on basic human rights and has created an environment in which violence against women and children - physical, spiritual and legal - has been state-sanctioned. Recognizing these issues are relevant across ethnic and immigrant communities, the national outrage at the passage of this bill has catalyzed a movement for immigrant rights."
New Orleanians who had been to Arizona came to a reportback on Saturday, May 22, at First Grace United Methodist Church in Midcity. More than a hundred members and staff of the Workers Center and their allies, including representatives from STAND for Dignity, the Congress of Day Laborers, and Safe Streets Strong Communities, came out to the event. Black and Latino New Orleanians in attendance drew links between the racial profiling faced by African Americans here with that faced by Latinos in Arizona, and spoke of the importance of uniting and struggling together for justice everywhere.
As a next step, members of the Workers Center are planning to send a large delegation to Arizona for this weekend's mass protests and National Day of Action to Stop the Criminalization of Our Communities. Thousands of people concerned about justice from around the US as well as tens of thousands of Arizonans are expected to take to the streets for the massive protest in Arizona's capitol.
Similar legislation to SB 1070 has recently been introduced in 13 other states. This is an important time for us all to stand up and be counted.