Musicians Protest Arizona’s SB 1070

Originally Published by SFCritic

Last month, the state of Arizona passed SB 1070, which gives police and other state authorities the jurisdiction to request proof of citizenship from anyone on the street. Internationally, musicians have been the loudest vocal opposition.

While a similar law was passed federally in 1986, the new Arizona law is particularly troubling on many levels. In a border state with 30% of its citizens identifying as Latino, stopping people who “look illegal” is subjective.

Additionally, Arizona is home to the nation’s most megalomaniacal sheriff, Maricopa County’s Joe Arpaio, a man prone to humiliating publicity stunts. Arpaio is probably best known for requiring inmates to wear pink underwear and volunteer to work on public chain gangs. No surprise, Arpaio, who has already been stopping Mexicans on the street he thinks look illegal, is a huge proponent of the new legislation.

Other states, private citizens, and celebrities have begun boycotting the state in opposition. The loudest critics of the bill— musicians.

Cypress Hill, hot on the 4/20 release of “Rise Up!” have canceled their May 21st Tucson show, explaining the decision on their website:

“In a show of resistance to the criminalization of immigrant communities and in opposition to SB1070, recently signed into Arizona legislation, Cypress Hill has elected to cancel a performance scheduled in Tucson for May 21, 2010. This decision was made in an effort to show support and solidarity with those, undocumented and otherwise, being directly affected by this unconstitutional “law”. Cypress Hill recognizes those living in the struggle for their basic civil rights. Rise Up!”

Colombian crossover pop-star Shakira was so distressed by the law that she flew to Phoenix and had a sit down with Mayor Phil Gordon and other legislators. “In my opinion, it dulls human and civil rights of citizens and non-citizens,” she said. Shakira’s effectiveness as a diplomat is still up in the air.

Other musicians, from Ricky Martin, Linda Rondstadt and have interjected their opposition into the debate through Twitter, news conferences, and music award shows.

In a show of just how partisan the political climate is these days, other states and localities are rushing to pass their own similar legislation. Perhaps they should postpone the passage of such laws until the cultural and economic blow facing the state of Arizona can be fully assessed.

Popular Tucson Latino radio station KCMT “La Caliente” just canceled a popular music festival “Tusa 2010” in fear that its musicians and concertgoers would be targeted under the new law. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom officially has the City boycotting any involvement and travel to Arizona. The American Immigration Lawyers association canceled a 300-person conference at the Scottsdale Marriott. The U.S. Travel Association has been practically begging people to travel to Arizona, “it is inappropriate to punish the men and women of our industry who have done no harm to others.”

True, but boycotts aren’t about punishment, they are about manifesting change.

Join the fight, here.

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