Press Release: Border Communities to Hold Day of Action Calling for Demilitarization

May23 fundraiser_photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales_31

On May 27th, 7 border communities will hold simultaneous events and protests across southern Arizona calling for the demilitarization of the borderlands.

NEWS
For Immediate Release
[May 25, 2015]

Contact: Border Communities Coalition Media Team

Phone: 520-603-9110

Email: info@bordercommunitydayofaction.org

Website: www.bordercommunityaction.org

ARIZONA- On Wednesday, May 27th southern border communities will be acting in concert to demonstrate for border demilitarization. Community events and protest actions will be held in multiple locations across the southwest. The day of action is being organized by a coalition of 7 autonomous local community groups whose border towns have been drastically altered by unprecedented levels of militarization and policing.

For more than a decade, the Department of Homeland Security has flooded the U.S.-Mexico border region with policing and military infrastructure. Checkpoints, surveillance towers, motion-detector sensors, helicopters, drones, and thousands of federal agents on the ground have become facts of life for those living on the border.

This “border zone” is expanding daily to impact an increasing number of communities and areas. As a consequence, borderlands residents live under increasing fear and intimidation. Racial profiling, loss of constitutional rights, and the violation of indigenous sovereignty are rampant. Because of the concentration of enforcement activities, communities are suffering economic deterioration, including the decline in property value and loss of tourism.

Under the Border Patrol policy of Prevention Through Deterrence, the building of walls in binational cities along the border has divided communities and ecosystems. These walls force undocumented migration into the most arid, remote, and deadly regions of the U.S.-Mexico border, which has led to thousands of migrant deaths. Rural borderlands residents are daily faced with the massive human tragedy caused by US immigration policies.

DHS has used its unprecedented power to waive 37 federal environmental protection laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Endangered Species Act in states along the U.S.-Mexico border, leading to wide reaching environmental degradation. The expanding policing of the border has opened a $544 billion global border security industry, making big business out of public tax dollars.

Though often rural and isolated, we are coming together to say no to endless border militarization. We are united together to show that our communities are not war zones and that we are not alone. On the May 27th day of action, the coalition is calling for the demilitarization of the borderlands with the following local actions and demands:

Ajo

Challenge: Recognition that migrant lives matter and that community members in this area have rights.

Action: The Ajo Art Gallery will feature photography and art depicting a border theme. There will be a pop up gallery in which artists are invited to display their art, ready to hang, first come first serve. At 6pm, a drop cloth will be displayed near the murals in the alley south of the plaza. The public is invited to draw, paint, write, and contribute. Musicians are also invited to display their talents. A booth will provide information and education on issues surrounding migrants in the desert. Light refreshments will be served. At sunset, the event will move to the plaza for a candlelight vigil for all lives lost in the desert as well as those who have experienced trauma as a result of the border. All are welcome!

Time/Location: Ajo Art Gallery; Ajo Plaza at 6pm

Local Media Liaison Contact: Mel Ortega, Phone: (520) 954-5448, Email: mel@tohono.tv

Arivaca

Organization: People Helping People in the Border Zone

Demand: Remove all interior Border Patrol checkpoints.

Action: Community Hearing and Sit-In to Close the Arivaca Road Border Patrol Checkpoint. (See separate full press release on this action).

Time/Location: 10am at the Border Patrol checkpoint on Arivaca Road in Amado, Arizona.

Local Media Liaison Contact: PHP Media Team: 520-398-3093 phparivacamedia@gmail.com

Website: phparivaca.org

Bisbee

Organization: The Bisbee Border Coalition

Demands: 1) A halt to further construction and overuse of roads in the Mule Mountains and surrounding valleys and especially in the San Pedro River riparian corridor. 2) Curtailment of the expansion of Border Patrol Complexes. 3) An end to further Stonegarden involvement by local law enforcement.

Action: Residents of Bisbee, Arizona, will meet at Grassy Park in Old Bisbee at 3PM for music, art, and poster making followed by a demonstration in the traffic circle as part of the May 27th Day of Action.

Time/Location: 3pm at Grassy Park in Old Bisbee

Local Media Liaison Contact: Bisbee Border Coalition Media, 520-678-5266

Patagonia

Request: Any laws or policies created and enacted on the border by the DHS, government officials, or corporate bodies do not waive the cultural and environmental laws that act as protection for the land and the people who call the border home.

Action: Open Forum with leading cultural and environmental experts talking about border reality and “militarization”, facilitated Q&A and sharing of citizens’ border stories and border vignettes from high school students.

Time/Location: Town of Patagonia Park, 6pm

Local Media Liaison Contact: patagoniadayofaction@gmail.com, Erin Blanding (520-841-2104)

Tohono O’odham Nation

Organization: Tohono O’odham Hemajkam Rights Network (TOHRN)

Demands:

  1. Respect and Acknowledge Tohono O’odham and Hia-Ced O’odham land
  2. Respect the himdag (way of life)
  3. Respect elders and children
  4. Respect the land and all life on it
  5. No mountaintop surveillance and towers
  6. No checkpoints
  7. No border patrol
  8. No militarization
  9. No borders
  10. Freedom of movement

Action:

Vigil in remembrance of Bennett Patricio, those who have lost their lives in the desert, and all those who have been abused and/or experienced trauma due to militarization. In addition to the vigil, we will be hanging banners and releasing a call to action for those at home to light a candle in prayer. Community members will be invited to take a picture and post it on the TOHRN Facebook page under #TOHRNdayofaction.

Time/Location: 6-8pm, Tohono Plaza in Sells, AZ

Local Media Liaison Contact: Amy Juan, (520) 993-1917, protecthimdag@gmail.com

TOHRN website: http://tohrn.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/TOHRN/751125318290383?fref=ts

Tucson

Organization: Border Patrol Victims Network

Demand: End the use of excessive force and the culture of impunity in the US Border Patrol.

Action: Vigil for Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez, a Mexican teenager in Nogales, Sonora, who was fatally shot through the border fence by a U.S. Border Patrol agent.

Time/Location: **PLEASE NOTE, THIS ACTION IS BEING HELD ON MAY 26TH** 1pm, Federal Courthouse, 405 W. Congress St., Tucson, Ariz.

Local Media Liaison Contact: BorderPatrolVictimsNetwork@gmail.com 520-226-7523

12th Annual Migrant Trail Walk

Demand: End all migrant deaths on the border.

Action: The week of May 25, 2015, more than fifty participants from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Colombia, and Central America will once again walk 75-miles over the course of a week to call attention to the human rights crisis occurring on the southern border. The twelfth annual Migrant Trail: We Walk for Life is a multi-national endeavor of allies who hail from diverse regions, faith backgrounds, ages, and ethnicities and walk together in solidarity with our migrant friends and their families to demand an end to migrant deaths on the border. The Migrant Trail is a non-violent, family-friendly event, and is free and open to the community. Participants and organizers of the Migrant Trail call on all people of conscience to stand in solidarity with our migrant sisters and brothers.

Time/Location: On Wednesday, May 27th, the walk will be passing through the Border Patrol Checkpoint on US286 north of Sasabe, Az. between 9-10am.

Local Media Liaison Contact: azmigranttrail@gmail.com, Contact: Chandra Russo, English Language, (720) 273-2022; Gloria Ivonne Moreno, Spanish Language, (212) 961-7611

Visit www.bordercommunityaction.org for further updates on the ongoing work of this border communities coalition.