Decolonize Now! march draws diverse opinions

Decolonize Now! March, organized by Tonatierra drew a crowd of little over 100 on Saturday January 19 in Phoenix, Arizona. Tupak Enrique (Acosta) addressed the group of about 100 at the start of the march, which began at the 4th Avenue Maricopa County Jail.

The march, according to some participants, was a part of a effort to change immigration law and support open borders. They hoped the march would draw support for their demand that the Mexican national soccer team boycott the January 30 matchup against Denmark at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.

The group which fluctuated between 90 to about 120 marchers made their way from the 4th Avenue Jail to the Glendale jail. They were escorted by approximately 20 law enforcement officers who marched or drove along with the group while two volunteer medics followed.

The group was guided by personnel of the Comités de Defensa del Barrio and Tonatierra.

Prior to the march, participants were told by one member of Comités de Defensa del Barrio “We are not illegals, we are workers from original lands with rights.. human rights. The January 30th soccer game, boycotting Glendale where the Mexican national team comes down and provides revenue for Sheriff Joe, Governor Brewer and the rest of the people who want to get rid of the original people..that support violating our homes, separating families, …..we are not going to seal out our community we are going to defend. We are not criminals , we are not criminals, we are workers, from original Native lands.”

Sandra Figueroa, a leader of the march associated with Comités de Defensa del Barrio and Derechos Humanos said the march organized to show continuing resistance against SB1070 and to reach into the hearts of the Mexican soccer team. She said that decolonization means different things to different people. She declined to explain her interpretation of the term.

One man, who was more than willing to explain his understanding of the term and the purpose of the march to filmmaker Lisa Ruth. He identified himself as a doctor who recently moved to Arizona. The doctor, accompanied by his a wife, a nurse, said that decolonization “means to get rid of the 520 year old rule that the pope decided in Europe that you could take over countries and turn them into your own land and that rule wasn’t in affect before that.”

The doctor said that the solution would be “comprehensive immigration reform, which means a pathway to citizenship for people who have been here for awhile, a year or two or have family here and not have discrimination against brown skinned people because they are the ones who are related to the Native Americans. This land belonged to some of their families hundreds of years ago.”

The marcher claimed that the Drug Enforcement Administration has been making big mistakes in policing too fierce” and claimed that the over 116,000 deaths in Mexico by the drug cartels was the result.

On young Hispanic teenager said he was marching because his friend asked him to. He said he was marching “for their rights,” while pointing to a large group of adults behind him.

One woman, who had heard about the event from one of the Women in Black members while visiting a local library, was eager to talk about her involvement with the march. She said she didn’t speak Spanish so she didn’t know what it was all about, but that it was a procession of all human rights. She stated, “I don’t speak Spanish myself but after they are done with the Spanish the next thing you know they will go after the next people and will keep going until all human beings are annihilated.”

The woman, who said she moved to Arizona from Chicago in 2003, said she said she didn’t know anything about the group, but thought they might be marching “to preserve Spanish neighborhoods.” She then said that she was there to fight for “natural people as opposed corporate people, that is primarily the issue here. We are trying to rewrite the constitution so that the indigenous people rule over their land in their own territory instead of the corporations coming in and taking over their land and using it how they would like.”

The group was made up of about 20 children and the march was promoted on Facebook with the image of a small boy holding a promotional flier for the event.

On April 19-20, 2013 an international conference of Indigenous Peoples will take place at ASU West Campus with the objective of “producing a template in the form of an curriculum for implementation in the public schools of Arizona in order to dismantle the official institutionalization of the Doctrine of Discovery as a violation of Human Rights of all Arizonans.”

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