Phoenix: Anarchists confront "Americans First"
<table><tr><td>by Collin Sick
<a href="http://www.phoenixanarchist.org/">Phoenix Anarchist Coalition</a><br><br>30 Phoenix area anarchists, many from the Phoenix Anarchist Coalition (PAC) along with members of the Phoenix branch of the IWW, the Boom Box Crew, and Phoenix Insurgent, attended a counter-demonstration, organized by PAC, against the racist "Americans First" demonstration. Marchers met up a half mile down the road, and walked down to the rally site, where over 150 anti-immigrant protesters were already holding their rally at the Mexican Consulate. As anarchists approached nearly a dozen police cars appeared, and the Americans First rally was quickly disrupted by the anarchists shouting and shit-talking, which enraged the anti-immigrant crowd, much to the anarchists' pleasure. The media reached anarchists first, followed by the American Firsters, and finally the police. The groups were quickly separated by 30 Phoenix PD officers, who remained there for the arguing and shouting matches that went on for nearly two hours. No one was arrested, but one participant of the anti-immigrant rally was detained after police learned he was carrying a concealed firearm in his belt.</td><td><img title="If we ignore them will they go away?" src="files/pictures/phoenix_anarchists_marching.jpg"></td></tr></table><!--break-->
The April 22 demonstration took place at the Mexican Consulate in west Phoenix, on the heels of 200,000 Latinos and working people marching against the criminalization of their class by racist politicians. The protest on the 22nd was organized by JT Ready (photo of JT Ready at the border), a member of the Minuteman CDC, a white vigilante organization that patrols the American border with Mexico aiding the border patrol in apprehending migrants. Ready recently ran for a failed bid for a city council position in Mesa (A city in the Phoenix-metro area), but his candidacy was overshadowed after he opened fire on Efrain Martinez, an undocumented immigrant, who Ready accused of casing his car (For more info on the Martinez shooting, check out this post on Phoenix Insurgent). Ready is one of the most dangerous of the anti-immigrant set, valley anarchists wanted to make sure he felt the heat this time around, many of the signs carried reflected a strong anti-Ready sentiment, with one sign saying "Vote JT Ready: Imperial Grand Wizard 2006!", another sign was in support of Efrain Martinez. Anarchists made sure to catch Ready's attention to heckle him a number of times.
The Americans First rally followed the typical Minuteman rhetoric, "we don't hate Mexicans, just the twelve million illegal immigrants," "We're not racists, but I'm just tired of no one speaking English anymore." This was an expected aspect of the rally, as valley anarchists have confronted the Minutemen, and related white vigilantes a number of times, what was truly unsettling was the escalation in their rhetoric and their anger this time around. It was such an ugly scene that even reporters and police were shaking their heads. One anarchist overheard a few police officers talking about the anti-immigrant demonstrators, one officer was heard saying "these people are crazy", another responded "I know, it gets worse everytime, more flags this time too." Much of this has to do with the mainstreaming of the Minuteman movement, recently new groups have emerged in Phoenix, such as Mothers Against Illegal Aliens, and JT Ready's Americans First, both groups are busy expanding the anti-immigrant sentiment amongst white working class and lower-middle class whites in the Phoenix area. The border may be where the battles are taking place, but their base of power is in the cities, Phoenix and Tucson in Arizona, San Diego and the Los Angeles area in California.
Anarchists and "American First"ers were in a variety of heated arguments, some turned into good ol' shit talking and insults (anarchists were great at this) as the American Firsters could not listen. Everytime an anarchist spoke, they were interrupted by "Oh yeah, well what do you know about...(such and such)." It was impossible to have a dialog, and equally impossible to up the level of confrontation due to their much larger numbers, and police protection.
Phoenix anarchists have been very active over the last few years working with Latino advocacy groups, unions, and grassroots organizations to fight against a number of ballot initiatives, racist politicians, and militia organizations in Arizona. We will continue to advocate for no borders and to confront white vigilantism.
Read the PAC call to action here:
Below is an article on the rally from the East Valley Tribune:
Protesters state views, trade insults near Mexican Consulate
By Shanna Hogan, Tribune
About 100 illegal immigration protesters gathered Saturday outside the Mexican Consulate in Phoenix in an event organized by former Mesa City Council candidate JT Ready.
â€œThe Mexican people have to realize the government of Mexico is a threat,â€? Ready said. â€œThey are corrupt against their own people.â€?
Ready said the protest was not in response to the immigration rights demonstration earlier this month, where more than 100,000 mostly Hispanic protesters marched to the state Capitol. But some of the protesters who showed up Saturday spoke out against that event.
â€œI look at that demonstration as an attack on our government and an attack on the American people,â€? said Glendale resident Iva Underwood.
The American government needs to focus on Americans, she said.
â€œI believe charity begins at home,â€? Underwood said. â€œWeâ€™ve got too many problems within our own country.â€?
Demonstrators carried signs that read: â€œMexico Please Respect Our Laws and Our Border,â€? â€œBuild the Wall,â€? and â€œSeal the Borders.â€?
â€œWe hate the illegals, our border should be closed,â€? said Louise Lonsdale of Phoenix. â€œPeople need to realize weâ€™re being taken over.â€?
Debates flared between the protesters and about 30 proimmigration activists who showed up to counterprotest.
One pro-immigration activist, Phoenix resident Eric Malatesta, 32, wore a black handkerchief across his face and waved a sign that read: â€œJT Ready is a Racist and Trigger Happy.â€?
â€œI am here to show solidarity with the immigrants and the poor people,â€? he said. â€œThey insist they are not racists despite the fact that they are a very angry group of white people protesting the Mexican Consulate.â€?