Very Public Witness
Saturday evening June 23 most attendees at Justice GA boarded chartered school buses to stand in witness against the injustices perpetuated at Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Tent City jail, and stand in solidarity with our Arizona partners fighting SB 1070. The six mile ride from downtown Phoenix took them to a side of the city outsiders rarely see.
Arpaio’s jail is intentionally situated far from the public eye. Surrounded by long-haul truck corrals and modest single-family homes one has to know where it is to find it. On a typical day the the clearest indication of the camp, designed to hold 2,000 undocumented aliens and driving-under-the-influence offenders on wooden cots under canvas-roofed tents (under which the temperature has been a documented at 145°), is a sign on the street welcoming you to “Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s S.M.A.R.T. TENTS“, but on this night more powerful witness to the existence of this prison was the sea of yellow-shirted UUs filling the road in front of and within ear-shot of those detained in the camp.
The presence of Unitarian Universalists overwhelmed that of counter-protestors, raising the spirits of our allies for justice, and capturing the attention of local, national and international media. An Associated Press (AP) feed was published in more than fifteen daily papers and online news blogs across the United States., including the Washington Post and Huffington Post, and the Guardian UK (United Kingdon) ran a story featuring a photo of UUs raising “Standing on the Side of Love” signs in front of Tent City in its Sunday (June 24) World News edition, and local television news carried the story of thousands of Unitarian Universalists standing on a hot summer night in the desert for justice.