Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in downtown Phoenix Feb. 28 to protest Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and policies that critics charge violate basic human and civil rights. Organizers estimated the number of marchers at more than 5,000. Soon after the march began, Phoenix police blocked traffic to Central Ave. and allowed demonstrators to fill the street, because of their overwhelming numbers—despite the fact that the march had lacked a permit).
Among the demands voiced by protesters was that the federal government end 287(g) agreements and stop the raids of workplaces and immigrant neighborhoods. The 287(g) agreements allow local law enforcement to arrest people if they are suspected of being in the US without proper documents. Critics point to recent actions by Arpaio as evidence of these agreements’ vulnerability to abuse.
“Recently the nation witnessed the ritual humiliation of migrants in a spectacle evocative of some of the most horrific episodes of human history,” said Pablo Alvarado, director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. Last month Arpaio intensified his on-going escalation of attacks against Latinos by segregating the county jail and parading hundreds of immigrants shackled in a chain-gang into a “tent city”—an urban internment camp surrounded by armed guards, razor wire and electric fencing. (Infoshop News, March 2)