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

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Resisting State Violence: Occupy PHX Tie Dye March

On Saturday, December 10, Occupy Phoenix recognized International Human Rights Day by protesting state violence and police brutality. I was busy down at the Sandra Day O'Connor federal courthouse (4th Ave  and  W. Washington) for most of the march, making another memorial to dead prisoners....

I missed the most powerful part of the action down at the PHX Police Station, where numerous people gave first-hand testimony of how state and police violence have affected them. We're still waiting for Dennis Gilman's footage, but  some video of OP member statements on police brutality can be found here

I joined OP as they came back down W. Washington, taking the street on their way into the Tamale Festival...

 "Whose Streets?!"
W. Washington at 4th Ave, PHOENIX
International Human Rights Day 
December 10, 2011

What follows is the account of the Tie Dye March of one of the original Hance Park arrestees from her Spacebook post (thanks for this, Janet):

------------from FACEBOOK------------------
by Janet Higgins on Sunday, 11 December 2011 at 12:48

In honor of International Human Rights Day and to protest Police Brutality, Occupy Phoenix had a Tie Dye March, with tie dye banners stenciled with the faces of human rights leaders such as Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez, Emma Goldman, Mother Teresa, etc. The banners really were beautiful and everyone got a tie dyed t-shirt or a tie dyed  bandana. Bandanas are now essential clothing when protesting in America. When I got down to Cesar Chavez Memorial Plaza in the morning, they were setting up for a festival on Washington St. This weekend is the Tamale Festival, which explains why Occupy Phoenix was raided by the Phoenix Police Department two nights in a row without warning and why people were arrested. They were trying to shut us down before hundreds of people showed up for the Tamale Festival. Some of those people might have seen all the canopies set up right next to them and come over to see what was going on.

Not many people were there when I arrived a little before 10:00, but as time went on, more and more people came. We had close to a hundred people. Too bad we didn’t have the hundreds and hundreds of people who had turned out for the first day. But that’s ok, it was the perfect amount.

When we started our March the police officers told us we had to stay on the sidewalk. Our banners were larger than the sidewalk, so we chanted “Whose streets? Our streets.“ We marched on half the street and left the other half open for traffic. We headed towards the Federal Courthouse and took some group pictures, under the words “The First Duty of Society is Justice.“ Then we headed for Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s 4th Avenue Jail. A lot of us have been in that jail, so we know how people are treated there. Some great chants of “Hey Hey Ho Ho Sheriff Joe Has Got To Go.” Always refreshing to make that powerful statement. We passed by the Fox News Building on our way to visit the Phoenix Police Department. We had some choice words for Fox News, despite the fact that no one was home. But, hey, is anyone ever at home at Fox News?

The most powerful segment of the March took place in front of the Phoenix Police Department. It was there that people stood up and told their stories of police brutality. One by one, people used the human microphone or the bullhorn to tell their stories. Many of these stories went back to their childhood. It was extremely painful to hear these stories. My heart broke over and over. I can’t recount the stories, because they were so personal and so painful that just thinking about them brings tears to my eyes. They are on video and their own words are much more powerful than mine. I can only hope that being able to tell these stories to the members of Occupy Phoenix, to people who are caring and compassionate, was a cathartic moment. One woman said, “I’ve only told this story to my boyfriend.”

I wonder what the handful of police officers were thinking as these stories were told. The police helicopter circled overhead for a few minutes. The police had a “hands off” approach, even though there was a paddy wagon waiting, just in case. I guess raiding the encampment two nights in a row had given them their fix.

From the Phoenix Police Department, we headed for the Tamale Festival. We marched right down the center of that festival, chanting “Hey Hey Ho Ho Sheriff Joe Has Got To Go.” We got some thumbs ups, we got some hand slaps, we got a lot of stunned people wondering what was going on. We made an impact. We were noticed. I felt really proud carrying a banner through the Tamale Festival.

The first time I marched I was 17. I marched against the War in Vietnam. If you have never marched in your life, now is the time to do it. This country needs you. This country needs all of us. We must all wrap ourselves around this country and push her into the 21st Century. All hands on deck now. We need you. This is the time and this is the moment. This is the most important moment of our lives. So lace up your shoes, find a march near you, and take your power back.

We are unstoppable. Another world is possible.

Janet Higgins

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