On July 1, over a thousand people joined a coalition of socialist organizations in Phoenix, Arizona, to demand Biden and the Democrats take action on the overturning of Roe v. Wade. This protest happened one week after the Phoenix police rained tear gas from the capitol building balconies on July 24 onto peaceful protesters for abortion rights. Organizers and community members made it a priority to protect each other from the notoriously violent Phoenix PD, and were successful by utilizing the strength of numbers.
The mood of the crowd was different from the week before. The shock and awe of the decision and the Democrats’ inactive response had many questioning the Democratic Party, but the anger was ultimately directed at the right wing. The continued inaction of the Democratic Party in the face of further right-wing attacks against galvanized people to join the growing, militant reproductive justice movement forming in the Valley.
The rally began with a reading of the actions Biden can immediately take to ensure abortion for all. One of these options, using federal land to open abortion clinics, would be life-saving in Arizona, where 42 percent of land in the state is federal land.
The rally marched through Phoenix and back around to the park opposite the capitol building. Police declared the park was closed at sunset and that everyone had to leave, attempting to disperse the protest. However, the crowd continued to file into the park and around the stage, where speakers spoke for an extra 45 minutes following the police’s attempt to END the rally.
The rally was organized by the Party for Socialism and Liberation, Democratic Socialists of America, Communist Party USA and Radical Women and included speakers from the community. The political messaging was unified and aimed to meet this important moment. There was a common mantra throughout — voting is not enough! Speakers offered solutions beyond voting, advocating for people to get organized, and to use their anger to build fighting organizations that can lend themselves to the reproductive justice movement.
The crowd was energetic and receptive to the message, and the need for people to organize in their own workplaces, schools and communities was clear.
Laila Dalton, a Starbucks Union organizer who was fired for her efforts, spoke to Starbucks using this ruling to bust union drives. “Starbucks is weaponizing the loss of our rights and using it as a tool to manipulate us. It’s outrageous for Starbucks to say that they will only pay for travel expenses for an abortion to only non-unionized stores. The working class needs to rise up and stop taking no for an answer!”
Attendees of the rally saw the need for an alternative, socialist vision which can guide the movement beyond the polls. This is especially important in a state like Arizona, which is dominated by right-wing politicians and corporations and is largely abandoned by the Democratic Party.
The police used scare tactics throughout the rally, and tried to entice protestors to divide and go protest at the security fence surrounding the building, but the people remained organized and kept each other safe. The fear of police attack led many protestors to move to the “legal” protest area at the capitol building early in the rally. However, as the rally held together, chants grew to bring those protestors back.
The crowd that had departed returned to the park and the rally successfully closed to chants of “the people united will never be defeated,” as well as a call to support 400+1, an organization touring the United States and hosting reproductive revolution clinics. Organizers with 400+1 were arrested and charged with felonies in an effort to halt their tour.
Over the last week in Phoenix, with the brutalization of protestors last Friday as well as throughout the week, and the arrest of organizers with 400+1, the role of the police in the enforcement of pre-Roe laws has been outlined. Support for 400+1 organizers is imperative to the struggle for reproductive rights in the Phoenix area and across the country as they look to continue their campaign, “The State Has No Authority Here.” For more information about their campaign and how you can take action in solidarity with 400+1, follow this link.