Tucsonans are asking if conservative business owners can survive in town after a restaurant, Cup It Up, was forced to close its doors due to threats the owners received in response to a Facebook post in support of President Donald Trump.
Tucson, the fifth poorest metropolitan area in the country, has earned a reputation as inflexible and intolerant. That reputation has kept the area from experiencing the recovery from which the rest of the state and country has benefited since the end of the Great Recession.
According to the Arizona Daily Star, “the restaurant was the target of endless harassing and threatening phone calls throughout the weekend following Friday’s Facebook post. Two employees quit Saturday because of the calls and several more quit throughout the weekend.”
Tucson activist, Zaira Livier, president of Progressive Democrats of Southern Arizona, was given credit for leading the attack on the company. According to a June 2, 2016 article on Vivala.com:
Zaira Livier was only eight years old when her life changed forever. Visiting the U.S. with her mother — who returned to Mexico — and brother from Querétaro, Mexico, via Nogales, this particular time was different from past visits. When they initially tried to cross, her mother and a border guard got into an argument. The guard destroyed her mother’s visa as a result. After several unsuccessful visa-less attempts to cross to attend a funeral, the woman’s aunt — who was born in the U.S. — joined the trio to help and had a brilliant idea. She dressed her niece and nephew in nice outfits, gave each juice to carry, and taught them to say, “U.S. citizen.” After extensive practice, the group of four nonchalantly walked across the urban border crossing. “U.S. citizen,” each announced with confidence, without missing a step. It worked.
Zaira Livier is now 30. Her mother, now back in Mexico, never meant for her children to stay in the U.S., but, as debates on immigration make clear, maneuvering life as an undocumented person is no walk in the park. Living in the shadows is sometimes the most viable option.
She pretended that her aunt was her mother and she learned to hide when the migra truck made its rounds in South Tucson, where she still lives.
“We were little, confused, and not sure who they were there for. It’s a very scary feeling,” Livier recalls, now a resident and student of neuroscience at the University of Arizona recalls. “I tip my hat to anyone who lives with that fear his whole life. It’s no way to live.”
Livier only had to live with that fear for about four years. At about the age of 13 she became a U.S. resident. Today, Livier is not afraid of leaving the shadows. She is a politically active feminist Bernie Sanders supporter who hopes to become a citizen to vote in the fast-approaching presidential elections in November. She hasn’t applied for citizenship yet because of a lack of money.
A review of Arizona’s voter registry shows that a person with the name Zaira Livier is not currently registered to vote in Arizona.
Another Tucson activist and immigrant, Pat Sexton, appeared on the James T. Harris show on Monday and compared what happened to Cup It Up to “The Disappeared” from her native Guatemala. Sexton, a U.S. citizen, who describes herself as a “very grateful adopted American, told Harris that she was a “hairs breath away from being a “disappeared.” She described how a truck came between her and her son and kidnappers “because I was involved in something somebody didn’t like and I think that was the Lord protecting me.”
“We did not have the rule of law in Guatamala, we didn’t have equal justice under the law and it was whoever has the biggest guns, or the biggest truck, or the most amount of money, or the most influence with people in high places that rule and I am so sad to see that our country is going down that way too.”
Other business owners do not dare come out in defense of Cup It Up. However, one business owner used the misfortune of Cup It Up to promote his own business on Livier’s Facebook page. K.G. Alexander of Ken’s Hardwood Barbecue posted: “AS I TOLD YOU A FEW DAYS AGO THEY WOULDN’T LAST LONG Zaira Livier POLITICAL VIEWS AND AGENDAS SHOULD HAVE NO PART IN YOUR BUSINESS.”
Moments later he posted: “BUT HEY ANYWAYS COME GET SOME GREAT BBQ FROM US AT Ken’s Hardwood Barbecue.”
“Absent from this whole fiasco are the City of Tucson Mayor and Council, who let the intimidation of small business owners go unchecked as Tucson slides further and further down the poverty scale, its no wonder we are viewed as the laughing stock of the nation,” said a Hispanic community leader who preferred to remain anonymous. “We send cacti out to die, we boycott businesses that have names extremists don’t agree with, and we tolerate death threats and intimidation tactics towards businesses whose owners happen to have a conservative point of view.”
Successful business owners in the Tucson metropolitan area know that in order to have any hope of survival they must keep their views to themselves. This applies to those hoping to do business in the area as well. Business hopefuls are warned to go along to get along should they want the permitting process to go smoothly.