Tucson Jail Blockaded During “Evict ICE” March

Report from anarchists in Tucson on a recent march and blockade of an ICE building.

On Saturday, August 25th a group of over 100 people gathered in a park a few blocks away from the local jail in Tucson, Arizona, occupied Tohono O’odham land, in response to a call for a march to “evict ICE” from the Pima County Jail.

After a free meal from Food Not Bombs, the crowd took to the street, eventually marching onto busy Mission Road and blocking traffic. In front of the main entrance to the jail, the crowd split into two groups and moved to block both access roads to the jail employee parking lots. Thanks to some dedicated research and scouting, we knew the jail’s shift change occurs daily at 3 p.m., and the timing for the march was planned accordingly—by 2:45, all routes in and out of the corrections officer parking lot were blocked. The crowds held down these access roads for over an hour and half, thoroughly interfering with the normal operation of the jail.

Corrections officers trying to go home after the shift were trapped inside (except for a few who jumped a curb at high speed with their cars dangerously close to some demonstrators), and those arriving to start work had to be redirected a number of different times by Tucson Police, eventually parking in a neighborhood across a busy road from the jail and being forced to walk into work.

At around 4:30, the crowd gathered in the middle of the street in front of the jail to hear speakers explain the connections between settler-colonialism and ICE, share personal stories of how collaboration between local law enforcement and Border Patrol has ripped apart families here in Tucson, and decry the racialized violence of incarceration. The events of the day ended with a tired but triumphant return march to the park.

Things that went well:

The police showed up at the park before the march got underway and spent half an hour asking around to speak with an “event organizer.” In the past, this has been an effective tactic by the local cops to find a person they can put pressure on to control marches when they’ve gotten rowdy. On Saturday, everyone just ignored their questions, and eventually they left the park.

The timing was great and we definitely thoroughly disrupted the jail’s change of shift. The crowd was also very adaptive, so when folks noticed that Tucson Police were directing incoming guards into the visitation parking lot, people set up a soft blockade there as well: cars visiting their families could come in, jail employees could fuck off.

Things that could have gone better:

Midway through the march, some folks attempted a banner hang by throwing weighted ropes over a traffic light, but unfortunately the ropes got tangled together at the top, and it wasn’t possible to hoist the banner. It was really exciting to see this sort of clandestinely planned escalation mid-march, but it was a shame the banner didn’t end up on the traffic light.

While the messaging throughout the day was mostly really good—chants of “la policía, la migra, la misma porquería!” and “police, ICE, the same shit twice!”, jeers at the guards who eventually made it to the jail to “quit your jobs,” and a lot of connecting the short term goal of evicting ICE from the jail to broader visions of ICE, police, and prison abolition—there was an unfortunate lack of focus given to the prison strike. It was only mentioned once in passing by a speaker, but it seems like this would have been a great opportunity to talk about ongoing struggles inside of prisons throughout the country.

All said, it was a powerful march and blockade. Here’s hoping this marks the beginning of a trend towards escalation and interruption of the infrastructure of domination. The cops have been pretty hands off lately, let’s take this breathing room and run with it!

Tucson Anarchists

Phoenix, AZ: People Attempt to Block ICE Deportation Van; Take to Street

from It’s Going Down

From occupied Akimel O’odham territory (Phoenix, AZ)

Seven people were arrested in Phoenix by police after blocking a van with detainees in an attempt to halt the deportation of Guadalupe Garcia. Garcia, an undocumented immigrant arrested nearly a decade ago in one of then-Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s workplace sweeps targeting immigrant workers, who was attempting to check in with the local ICE office as a condition as a condition of the workplace raid, however her felony conviction for the arrest in 2008 meant she was a target for new enforcement aimed at the forced removal of undocumented people from the United States.

Puente, a local non-profit pro-migrant activist group, quickly organized protests calling for her removal from custody and a return to her family, as protests dragged into the night hundreds came to the ICE office in downtown Phoenix to join Garcia’s family in solidarity.

After the activists blocking the van were arrested the vehicle returned to the ICE property, allowing the Phoenix police to pull dozens of officers into the ICE building to assist federal agents in enforcing the deportation order. A few hours after the initial attempt to halt the van, a small convoy of police vehicles left the gates of the federal building with Guadalupe Garcia. There was no organized effort to halt the second attempt, and the few people who ran into the street were grabbed by plainclothes police while officers in riot gear with less lethal weapons moved towards the crowd across the street.

A few small groups of local anarchists were present, offering up chants against the police, ICE, and the usual racist state of affairs. As the crowd remained in a stand off with police, the chants became increasingly hostile towards the cops, and the non-profit approved comments decrying the practices and policies of one institution became calls for the abolition of all borders and nations, and calls to burn down ICE.

The standoff between the crowd and the officers lasted for another hour after the deportation vehicles left with Guadalupe Garcia, and finally the police withdrew. Anarchists and other militants defied the calls from Puente organizers to regroup and talk “next steps” and instead took to the streets in defiance of police orders.

Close to one hundred people then spilled out onto Central Ave., halting traffic and blocking the light rail train as a Puente organizer again tried to call the crowd out of the streets and back to the sidewalks. It seemed as though people wanted even more, but police were able to succeed where the respectable activist group had failed in pushing people back from the streets and onto the sidewalk.

Workplace raids, the snatching of relatives from vehicles, homes, workplaces, and the regular deaths of migrants crossing the border in southern Arizona are not unusual events. We’ve become used to them over the years even as the federal government has continued to carry out this attack on immigrants in a stealthier fashion than our local right-wing sheriff. This new attack coming from the feds should cause great concern that the “bad old days” of open local, state, and federal hostility towards migrants may be surpassed under the new administration.

Certainly we see that it’s going to take a lot more than blockading vans to stop the deportation machine, and we may soon have a better idea of what that looks like as events unfold in Arizona and across the US in the coming weeks.