I began this blog in May 2009 following the death of Marcia Powell at Perryville State Prison in Goodyear, Arizona. It is not intended to prescribe the path that leads to freedom from the prison industrial complex.

Rather, these are just my observations in arguably the most racist, fascist, militaristic state in the nation at a critical time in history for a number of intersecting liberation movements. From Indigenous resistance to genocidal practices, to the fight over laws like SB1070 and the ban on Ethnic Studies, Arizona is at the center of many battles for human rights, and thus the struggle for prison abolition as well - for none are free until all are. I retired the blog in APRIL 2013.

Visit me now at Arizona Prison Watch or Survivors of Prison Violence-AZ

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Chaparral: No Borders or Prison Walls

This is a recent post from one of my favorite valley bloggers on immigration - I was just going to put part of it here and make you retrieve the rest, but it breaks the flow, so read the whole thing here or there - in any event, check out her blog. I subscribe. Here's the lead-in:

Here's the post for 11/23/09:
What Happens When Arpaio Serves the Warrants

Because Sheriff Arpaio has been targeting migrants who are just driving, waiting for work, or working, activists have reacted by pointing out that the sheriff has not been serving 40,000 open warrants. Now the Maricopa County Sheriff's Department is serving warrants... in Guadalupe.

As an example of the focus on warrants, a press release from no specific organization but about "Leaders from the civil rights and Latino communities" came out in March 2008 saying,
The people are entitled to have a true lawman for Sheriff, someone who goes after real criminals, not gardeners, cooks, nannies and pregnant mothers. America’s “toughest sheriff” must stop making mothers and fathers disappear in the middle of the night, callously leaving vulnerable, terrorized children at home alone. He can turn a new leaf and start protecting the public by serving the county’s 70,000 arrest warrants that he has allowed to remain outstanding.
If you went to a protest against Arpaio in 2008 or early 2009, you likely would've seen a reference to the warrants on some signs. Often they would be referenced by groups such as the Maricopa Citizens for Safety and Accountability. While the warrants have been discussed very little since the Senate hearing on the issue, you will occasionally still hear the warrants brought up.

What I don't understand is the assumption that these warrants are justified- that all the people who have warrants out for their arrest, or perhaps all the people with felony warrants, are hardened criminals who all deserve to go to Tent City. Do you really believe this? Do you think the criminal "justice" system is infallible? Are not undocumented migrants being further criminalized for political/racist/economic reasons? Isn't that fundamental to the criminal "justice" system? There is much evidence that the police are used to keep people in check and to maintain the social hierarchy. In many ways, the police actually perpetuate the crimes of those who do not have access to many of the opportunities that more privilege people have. And as I write in Chaparral: No Borders or Prison Walls:
Many examples exist of ways in which crime-fighting is not, in fact, intended to end the activities which are considered crimes. The government has no interest in ending crime unless it is targeted towards the government itself, the rich or their property. One could list a number of crimes committed by people who get away with it everyday, and a number of acts that should be crimes because they hurt people, other beings, and/or the planet, yet they are not crimes because it is not in the interest of the government to control those actions. Crimes against people who are seen as less valuable are not important to enforce unless it benefits the system in another way... Crimes committed by government, government agents, businesses, are treated differently, with the perpetrators facing much less harsh punishment than their civilian counter-parts face, if any. Often crimes are enabled by involvement with the government such as the drug trafficking done with government vehicles and physical and sexual abuse by police, border patrol, and prison officials, yet the criminals in these cases are treated as a few bad apples.
And why does it not occur to folks that many of those warrants might be for gardeners, cooks, nannies and pregnant mothers who might disappear at night leaving their children terrorized?

And if you agree with nothing else I've said so far about the problems with the rule of law, please realize that you are basically saying that if the sheriff was serving all those warrants, then he would be doing a good job- Tent City, pink underwear, chain gangs, green baloney and all.

Indeed, I have brought up that Arpaio has in fact not been doing as efficient of a job at arresting migrants- other police departments have- yet they don't have this warrants issue hanging over their heads. In fact, they are mostly ignored and in some cases even seen as allies (phoenix pd officers are invited to activist meetings, ex-mesa police chief gascon was celebrated for standing up against arpaio) yet, as i've written in the past, If Phx and Mesa PD are arresting more immigrants, why is focus on Arpaio?
I would say that the myth of the infallibility of law and order is not questioned, for the most part, for to do so would make you vulnerable to attacks by the other side, accusing you of wanting chaos, or whatever else they associate with opposing arrests of so-called criminals. Too many immigrants' advocates are not willing to be outspoken about the racist nature of "criminal justice" and law enforcement, the border, and immigration law in general. The result, therefore, is that law enforcement that can appear reasonable alongside arpaio's media circuses are not to be questioned, but instead even applauded, even if their actual effect is worse than how arpaio's efforts appear.
This past week, the sheriff's department has been bringing a camera crew to stops all over Guadalupe to serve warrants. Guadalupe is a very small town next to Tempe, with a very high number of brown skinned people- mostly Yaquis and Mexican migrants. Arpaio has done a few sweeps there. It is one of a few places in the County that doesn't have it's own police department and pays the MCSO to handle problems. Instead, they've caused many problems. You can read all about it in Guadalupe made it clear that Joe Arpaio’s attacking anyone with brown skin, Joe Arpaio Returns to Guadalupe, with an Army of Deputies to Watch His Back, The MCSO Retaliates Against a Guadalupe Activist.

In fact, this might be retaliation for the copwatching going on in Guadalupe. Whatever the reason, people are being harassed and terrorized by Arpaio serving these warrants. Those who have demanded that the warrants be served are not to be blamed for those warrants being served in Guadalupe (or anywhere) necessarily, but it is necessary to keep all these things in perspective.

Posted By chaparral to Chaparral respects no borders at 11/23/2009 11:36:00 AM

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