Photos by Stephanie Snyder
On Saturday thousands of people marched down North Central Avenue in protest of Joe Arpaio’s use of his 287 g agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The protest lasted over four hours, stretched nearly four miles and did not end until the group made it to the Sandra Day O’Connor Federal Courthouse. Posters with phrases like “We Are Human” were carried by the protesters as they made their way through Downtown Phoenix, chanting slogans in both English and Spanish.
Somos America, a coalition of organizations that mobilizes for social justice and equal rights for immigrant communities in Arizona, organized the march in order to draw national attention to the abuses the Maricopa County sheriff has been perpetrating, Somos America Vice President Lydia Guzman said.
“What Arpaio does is nothing but racial profiling, and it’s against the constitution,” Guzman said. “These are civil rights violations, plain and simple.”
Guzman said Arpaio has misused his 287 g agreement. Section 287 g of the Immigration and Nationality Act passed in 1996 allows the Secretary of Homeland Security to permit local law enforcement agencies to execute immigration laws.
“The march is intended to draw national attention to Arpaio’s abuses in hopes that Eric Holder, the attorney general, will investigate the abuses in hopes that the 287 g agreement that was given to Joe Arpaio is yanked because he is abusing it,” Guzman said.
Participants in the protest marched on North Central Avenue and passed by the Wells Fargo Plaza, home to Arpaio’s office, where they were separated by only Light Rail tracks from Arpaio supporters. Though the two groups cheered for their respective causes, both groups refrained from violence.
Chuck Holloway, 69, stood outside the Wells Fargo Plaza with about a hundred Arpaio supporters. Holloway said they were there to support Arpaio and his implementation of the 287 g agreement.
“We’re for law enforcement, that’s all,” Holloway said. “We show them our signs and we show the world our signs. They have their right to their opinion—ICE is missing a wonderful opportunity here.”
Allison Nagle, a student working to earn a Master’s degree in social work, said she attended the protest because she believed Arpaio was breaking constitutional laws.
“Arpaio is committing racial profiling to support his own political ideology and for publicity,” Nagle said. “At the same time he’s separating and ruining families, and he’s scaring groups of people into the shadows.”
To close out the protest, Rage Against the Machine singer Zack de la Rocha spoke to the crowd and said that Arpaio’s actions had brought shame to Arizona and the nation.
“Joe Arpaio has now put himself on the tracks of a speeding train,” de la Rocha said. “And he will be seen as nothing more than a stain on the way to progress.”
Victoria Pelham contributed to this report.
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