In the wake of Arizona’s passage of the racist SB 1070, hundreds of writers, musicians, artists, labor unions, fraternities, cities, counties and nations responded to the call from Arizona’s grass roots leaders for an economic boycott of Arizona. Taking a lesson from history, boycotts have been successful in fighting to end the mistreatment and oppression of California Farm Workers, South Africans under Apartheid, and Southern Blacks under segregation. Like those previous and successful battles, the Arizona boycott has given people of conscious all over the world a tangible way to support the fight for justice in Arizona.
Rather than merely denounce the racist law tourists, musicians, organizations, convention goers, and consumers are able to send a strong economic message to the State of Arizona that bigotry and hatred will cost the state where it hurts, in the pocket. It has been uplifting to see artists, travelers, and cities make sacrifices to be a part of what has become the central strategy in working to bring Arizona back from the fringe.
While it is unfortunate Arizona residents who oppose the immigrant attacks have also had to sacrifice, that sacrifice is both greatly appreciated and minor compared to the hardships children who have their parents deported for broken tail lights face every day. I am confident those sacrifices will also not be in vain. The boycott is working.
As of a few months ago, the Arizona boycott has already cost the State an estimated $150 million and counting. While initially shrugging off the boycott, the Arizona business community is now working to end legislative hate bills in the hopes of ending the Arizona boycott. Recently, sixty CEOs in Arizona took a minor, but significant, step in signing a letter to the Arizona poppa smurf of hate Senate President Russell Pearce, urging him to move beyond hate bills and to address more pressing matters in Arizona. This letter clearly identified the Arizona boycott as what has awoken their consciousness, or at least their wallet.
One key boycott call cam from my own home City of Los Angeles. The Los Angeles boycott resolution was a major international story not only because of the economic power of the City, but also because of the strong statements the Mayor and City Council members made in denouncing SB 1070. In fact, several council members and the Mayor rushed to do national television interviews — their own press conferences.
However, the Los Angeles City Council Resolution has yet to become an adopted ordinance to put into law the intention and words of the City Council. Two keys elements of the Resolution have not been followed leaving City Staff and Commissioners no direction as to how to apply the May 12, 2010 Resolution. Now, the City of Los Angeles is poised to spend close to $100 million of our dollars on a contract with one of Arizona’s largest employers — Honeywell International. Honeywell also has a checkered history of environmental damage, labor law violations, age and disability discrimination, and produces materials used to create weapons of mass destruction.
It is unconscionable that a city as diverse as Los Angeles claims to be so progressive yet chose to pass a resolution condemning and boycotting Arizona it perhaps never intended to follow through on.
By contrast, in Arizona the hate against immigrants does not just represent words, they represent actions. In Arizona, sheriff deputies carry toys to calm the nerves of crying children when their parents are pried away from them for having a broken tail light. It’s a state where law enforcement agencies engage in protracted and fanatical harassment of immigrants aided by almost all-white “volunteer posses,” many of whom are armed with automatic weapons.
The City and Mayor must reaffirm their position on the boycott and craft an ordinance that truly represents an economic position and makes the same sacrifices travelers, artists, organizations, and other governments have made. Otherwise, the Los Angeles City Council Resolution is just words
Javier Gonzalez is the Managing Director for The Sound Strike Artists Boycott of Arizona. The SOund Strike is a coalition of Artists that have come together to do more to engage musicians and fans around the need to repeal Arizona’s SB 1070 and to work to stop bigoted and hatful legislation targeting Migrants. For more information visit www.thesoundstrike.info or search @thesoundstrike on Facebook/twitter.