On Jan. 13, a demonstration in Phoenix organized by Puente (Human Rights Movement) protested Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio for his long history of political corruption, anti-immigrant Latino working-class bigotry, collaborations with ICE forces, as well the reactionary intensification of raids, deportations and mass indefinite detentions of Latino immigrant workers.
By 3 p.m., as many as 100 multinational protesters had gathered in Cesar Chavez Plaza. A large media contingent was also present interviewing participants. Passing drivers, particularly Latinos, expressed sympathy.
As demonstrators gathered, members of Puente distributed posters. A speaker announced the initiation of a campaign to “Arrest Arpaio, not the people.”
The campaign has as its goals: to end Arpaio’s access to ICE and immigration enforcement programs; to shut down Tent City—the notorious encampment outside the county jail; and to stop all support for Arpaio.
After the explanation of the campaign, people began to march. In front of the Wells Fargo building, where Arpaio’s office is located, protesters were given the opportunity to voice their frustrations and grievances as well as express their opposition to the injustices perpetuated by Arpaio’s racist and reactionary policies.
People chanted: “Hey, ho, Sheriff Joe has got to go!” “When human rights are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!” “What does a community look like? This is what a community looks like!” “¡Sí se puede! (Yes, it is possible!)” “¡El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido! (The people united will never be defeated!)”
When the march reached its official end point, people were asked if they would be willing to march to the front steps of the Phoenix jail, which is notorious for brutality, mistreatment and killing of incarcerated workers. The general response from the crowd was instantaneously, “Yes!” Most recently, the Phoenix jail was the site of the death due to deputy brutality of a Latino veteran named Ernest “Marty” Atencio.
As the march proceeded to the jail, the intensity of frustration and rage was displayed by the people as many began to disrupt traffic in defiance of the police who were cynically ridiculing and trying to intimidate participants by their tailing positions and movements. When the people arrived at the front steps of the jail, a banner was placed upon the highest steps stating: “Arrest Arpaio, not the people!”
At that moment, people took a moment of silence for Marty Atencio and the many other victims of racist and brutal crimes committed by the sheriff’s office and other police bodies. As the moment of silence ended, people began to militantly chant: “Justice for Marty, jail for Joe!”
In a breakout of justifiable anger, the jail garage opening was damaged. The march resumed, returning to the original gathering site, where people made concluding remarks.
This was the first demonstration of the campaign to “Jail Arpaio, not the people!” Another demonstration is scheduled for Jan. 27.