December 14, 2007

Phoenix Friday | December 14th, 2007

Si Se Puede! (Si No Son Odiosas)
Yes We Can! (If They Are Not Filled With Hate)

Sorry this took so long. Hope it was worth the wait. Quick note for those of you who don't follow the links. Usually, I put links in for a little deeper digging, and some really funny jokes (at least, I think they are). Today, however, there are some links here that are essential to a fuller understanding of the debate. I am already long-winded and arguably heady, and the links are an attempt to provide a more holistic vision of what is happening without wasting too much of your time. There are some jokes, too.

6:15PM - Kevin, Brittany, Quinn, Jon, Seth, and myself enter the auditorium of South Mountain High School. The purpose: to discuss and dialog the propsed change to Phoenix Police Department Operations Order 1.4 (For some reason, to access each section you need to be using Internet Explorer. Sorry for the inconvenience). We were not the only ones in attendance. Some reports say six hundred (600) people, but there I am sure there was more. All of the major news outlets were brandishing cameras, and there has been plenty of press coverage regarding the events that unfolded. Just to get that part out of the way, here are some links to those stories. But let's move on, shall we?

6:30PM - Mary Rose Wilcox introduced the panel and began to introduce the first speaker. Her attempt was combated by a large group of people loudly reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. A majority of these people were asked to leave fifteen (15) minutes later after their rude, disruptive, and abusive comments did not cease. So much for a constructive dialog.

6:45PM - After the dismissals, things slowed down a bit. At times, the cameras moved from the stage to the remnant dissenters. But more than not, the night went on without much more of a disturbance of the previous sort. The panel, whose December 31st deadline has been pushed back to due the immense public outcry, is made up of Rick Romley, Grant Woods, Juan Rivera, and Paul Charlton. Guest speakers were mainly members of the Latino Community such as Salvador Reza and Micheal Nowakowski. But that list is anything but exhaustive. For nearly three hours, the four (4) member panel was bombarded with concerned citizens. I say this with a smile. For the most part, I think that legislatures believe the "Pledge of Allegiance" sort of trouble-makers are the majority. This is definitely not the case. And I think it was constructive for the men charged with this task to realize what they are up against. Fifty (50) percent of Phoenix's population is Latino. That makes me a minority.

Most speakers were interrupted by applause, given standing ovations, and carried off the stage with chants of "Si Se Puede!". Seeing upwards of seven hundred (700) fellow humans chanting a message of hope is a beautiful sight. In fact, there was even one speaker who compared marching with Salvador Reza with his prior experiences with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Cesar Chavez. Definitely worth the price of admission.

Mayor Phil Gordon, who had face time for a taping of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives at Matt's a few days ago, was not in attendance. For a full text of his statement on Operations Order 1.4, click here. Some highlights from the document:

- "[1.4] is the Order that has caused Phoenix to be labeled by some as a "Sanctuary City".

- "It was written for another time."

- "Rhetoric is replacing reason. There is too much hate."

- "All State and Federal Constitutional guarantees must be met."

- "There, can be no racial or ethnic profiling."

1) The term, "Sanctuary City" came from a group of people consumed with fear and hatred. The term gained momentum in the national lexicon recently during the CNN/You Tube Debate. Mayor Gordon is changing with the political winds. This is not excusable, however it is understandable. Both Mayor Gordon and Governor Napolitano have recently made decisions that were different than the platforms they ran on. Again, inexcusable but understandable considering the local and national pressure they are facing. A word of support to either of them would be a great idea: Mayor Gordon Governer Napolitano. Remember, these two are our employees.

2) That "other time" was ten (10) years ago. If anything, the issue has moved closer to the front of the debate and increased in importance. Ten (10) years of inaction has only compounded the complexities, fears, and hatred. Something must be done now. If not yesterday.

3) See number one (1). If anyone is succumbing to rhetoric, it is not the millions of people that make up the Latino Community here in Phoenix. It seemed as though those seven hundred (700) people desired reconciliation with their neighbors, friends, families, and fellow citizens. There should be no rhetoric concerning human rights and justice.

4) Great idea, that's the law, right?

5) Sounds a little like rhetoric to me...

The night was an institute. I hope that more Anglos join the discussion. There are many layers to the issue, and there is no silver bullet. That is for sure. But like that Precious Moments birthday card says, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

I challenge you to do something about this. You might not be able to join in solidarity at Pruitt's, or have the personal experiences of some of my friends who are here without legal documents. But knowing more about the issues is, arguably, just as important. It is ignorance and unaffectionate that perpetuates the fear and hate.

Thanks for trudging through this with me. Like my good friend Michael Caine said in The Weather Man, "Easy does not enter into grown up life." I'm exhausted. Thoughts?

"No matter what other nations may say about the United States, immigration is still the sincerest form of flattery."
Clayton Cramer


Liana said...

Good summary,Sam. Thoughts go directly to Dorothy Day: "No one has the right to sit down and feel hopeless, there is just too much work to do." She stuck with it til her death, an inspiration to be sure. Also, I gotta have the "right" answer some day when Jesus asks: So where were you when...?

Cori said...

"Guest speakers were mainly members of the Latino Community such as Salvador Reza and Micheal Nowakowski."

Last time I checked Nowakowski is Polish. ;) I say we start a Polish community. I mean if everyone gets a community I want one too!

John Spencer said...

I enjoyed reading your take on it, Sam.

I wish some of the people on both sides would listen to the moderate voice. One one side, there seems to be a view that all immigrants are here for good reasons. Others label all immigrants as "illegals."

I also wish people could have heard the real, thougtful, interactive debate in my classroom regarding this issue. If seventh graders can have a respectful tone, why can't adults?

Incidentally, if you want to view a reflection one of my students wrote, it was something that has stuck in my mind. The url is