by Bill Forman
As a point of comparison, the number of musicians who ARE playing in Arizona remains enormous. In fact, some 200 touring acts are scheduled to hit Phoenix alone during the next month.
Among the Arizona-bound are the Melvins, Erykah Badu, the normally politically correct Cake, Colorado’s own 3OH!3, and the entire Vans Warped Tour. (If any of the aforementioned artists have since canceled, it’s not reflected on their websites.)
Of course, playing Arizona doesn’t necessarily indicate that a musician supports SB 1070, the bill signed into law that’s been in the spotlight for potentially encouraging racial profiling. As Damian Abraham, frontman for the punk band Fucked Up (Indy interview here), recently put it:
"I think instead of boycotting Arizona, bands should make a point of going there now more then ever. They should use whatever profile they have to address the issues around this law by talking about it in the local press. Bands should also engage the people at the show to get involved. This doesn’t necessarily require lecturing the people at the shows. (They are, after all, living in the eye of the storm and are no doubt inundated with it all the time. The last thing they need is an outsider coming in and telling them about it.) There are organizations throughout Arizona that have been working for years on the behalf of immigrants both “legal” and “illegal.” I’m sure any number of these organizations would love the chance to set up a table, hand out literature and encouraging and empowering people to get involved. I think that by supporting and encouraging these people, the opportunity for producing change is far greater than with any sort of music embargo."
While the controversy rages on, let’s give Zach de la Rocha the last word, courtesy of Sound Strike’s inaugural statement:
We are reaching out to get your ear for a minute about this critical situation in Arizona.
If you haven't heard, the Arizona state legislature passed a bill (SB 1070) that was signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer that legalizes and sanctions racial profiling. Straight up.
It forces the cops to hunt down and target anyone they "reasonably suspect" that may be undocumented. And if the people they harass don't have proof that they were born in the U.S., they can be detained and arrested. This must be stopped.
Fans of our music, our stories, our films and our words can be pulled over and harassed every day because they are brown or black, or for the way they speak, or for the music they listen to. People who are poor like some of us used to be could be forced to live in a constant state of fear while just doing what they can to find work and survive. This law opens the door for them to be shaked down, or even worse, detained and deported while just trying to travel home from school, from home to work, or when they just roll out with their friends.
Some of us grew up dealing with racial profiling, but this law (SB 1070) takes it to a whole new low. If other states follow the direction of the Arizona government, we could be headed towards a pre-civil rights era reality. This unjust law was set into motion by the same Arizona government that refused to acknowledge Martin Luther King Jr. day as a national holiday.
When Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, they arrested her. As a result, people got together and said we are not going to ride the bus until they change the law. It was this courageous action that sparked the Montgomery bus boycott. What if we got together, signed a collective letter saying, "we're not going to ride the bus", saying we are not going to comply. We are not going to play in Arizona. We are going to boycott Arizona!
Zack de la Rocha
Here's a list of the courageous artists who have taken a stand for civil and human rights in this collective decision to boycott Arizona:
Los Tigres del Norte
Rage Against the Machine
One Day as a Lion
Street Sweeper Social Club
We are asking artists the world over to stand with us, and not allow our collective economic power to be used to aid and abet civil and human rights violations that will be caused by Arizona’s odious law.