Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Arizona's Continued Downward Spiral

When the AZGOP dropped SB1070 onto the heads of migrant and Latino communities, there were immediate calls for a boycott. Rep. Raúl Grijalva bravely joined the movement, putting his political future at risk but ultimately won his reelection in November 2010. Unfortunately, that election also saw a huge wave of conservatism sweep a veto-proof GOP supermajority into both the state House & Senate chambers. The agenda is now driven by the author of SB1070 himself, Russell Pearce (R-National Alliance), who was installed as Senate President in January.

When Pearce took the reins, he declared that Arizona would have the country's first Tea Party Senate.

A blog from Pearce picked up by the Sonoran Alliance website is signed “Russell Pearce…Tea Party Senate President-Elect.” He said in the blog, “I consider this to be the Tea Party Senate and we intend to take back America one state at a time.” -

That threat - and it is a threat - is becoming reality. Yesterday, the state's Senate Appropriations Committee became the first in the nation to advance a repeal of birthright citizenship for a full vote.

After a rocky start, the birthright legislation finally received committee approval on Feb. 22, overcoming the initial hurdle before the full Senate can debate and vote on the measure that is stirring so much raw emotion and is solidifying Arizona’s reputation as ground zero in the struggle to confront illegal immigration.

By an 8-to-5 vote that hewed nearly along party lines, the Senate Appropriations Committee gave the green light to a two-bill proposal whose ultimate aim is to get the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit the issue of American citizenship, though critics question whether the judiciary would actually answer this exact issue and not dismiss the legislation on some other grounds. - AZ Capitol Times

Yesterday's hearing was packed with a passionate audience on both sides. Interestingly enough, the Chamber spoke out against the bill because they fear an even worse backlash than the one from SB1070, proving that the boycott is working. There's an opportunity to drive a wedge between them if an economic populist message starts entering the conversation as to why voters should reject the AZGOP's extremist agenda.

"Russell Pearce's vision for Arizona is killing jobs, etc etc" ...because it's clear that the moral argument falls on deaf ears in this state. Of course, it's vital that it continues to be made strongly, and it will.

There's really no end in sight to what these Tea Party bigots have planned for the state. From banning race-based abortions to saving the republic from the threat of healthcare for the poor, it's no wonder that Baja Arizona is starting to organize a secession of its own.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

2011 Corazón de Justicia Award Recipients

This Friday evening, progressive grassroots groups will gather at Apollo Middle School to honor leaders in several categories for their work across southern Arizona. The annual Corazón de Justicia Awards gathering is sponsored by the Coalición de Derechos Humanos (Coalition for Human Rights). Here are the 2011 Recipients:

African-American Issues
Billie Laurie
Selected by: NAACP

Raices Taller
Selected by: Coalición de Derechos Humanos

Community Empowerment
Jason Aragon
Selected by: Coalición de Derechos Humanos

Nancy Zierenberg
Selected by: Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection

Mary Ellen Kennon
Selected by: Southside Presbyterian Church

Human Rights
Ethnic Studies 11
Selected by: Coalción de Derechos Humanos

Immigrant Rights
Steve Johnston
Selected by: Coalición de Derechos Humanos

Indigenous Issues
Ernest Moristo
Selected by: Alianza Indígena Sin Fronteras

Vikki Marshall
Selected by: AFSCME Local 449

Noel de Tierra
Selected by: Wingspan

Women's Issues
Alison Hughes
Tucson Women's Commission

Elisa Meza
Selected by: Social Justice Education Project

The evening will include dinner and a keynote address by David Bacon, who is an associate editor at Pacific News Service, and writes for TruthOut, The Nation, The American Prospect, The Progressive, and the San Francisco Chronicle. If you're interested in attending, please check out the Derechos Humanos website for RSVP info. There's a tax-deductible donation of $35 to attend.

I attended last year and was energized by the networking and words shared by the recipients and speaker. Connecting on-the-ground work to blogging has helped me over the years to stay motivated & optimistic (especially with all the madness in AZ, right?). While it's not community organizing on the political/partisan level, I thought I'd share in case anyone in Baja Arizona is interested in attending.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Justice for Brisenia

In 2009, nine year old Brisenia Flores begged for her life before being murdered in cold blood under orders from a founding member of the Minutemen Civil Defense Corp. Today, justice has been served:

A Pima County jury convicted Shawna Forde today of two counts of first-degree murder in the May 30, 2009 deaths of Arivaca residents Raul Junior Flores and his 9-year-old daughter, Brisenia.

The jury also convicted Forde of attempted first-degree murder in the shooting of Flores' wife, Gina Gonzalez, as well as related aggravated assault and robbery counts.

Gonzlez started crying as soon as the first guilty verdict, the killing of her daughter, was read just before noon in a packed courtroom at Pima County Superior Court.

The jury deliberated for seven hours over two days. Jurors will now be asked if the death penalty ought to be considered.

An expanded version of this post is available in Orange & Green