By Manuel Siguenza ’12
I saw a peaceful protest, heard embracing and spirited chants and witnessed a clash with the police.
And from my first protest I took away an invigorated belief in the need for humane treatment of immigrants.
On Jan. 16, thousands of people, including myself and other Brophy students, attended a march that began at 9 a.m. at Falcon Park north of Carl Hayden High School.
There were more than 10,000 in attendance, including humanitarian groups such as No Mas Muertes or No More Deaths, Zack de la Rocha from the rock group Rage Against the Machine, singer Linda Ronstadt and opponents of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s treatment of illegal immigrants.
Before commencing, small bands performed and speakers spoke against the sheriff’s treatment of prisoners, particularly those who are undocumented, as cruel and inhumane.
Simultaneously, vendors came to sell ice cream, mangos and favorite Mexican treats. As I waited, I constantly saw a sea of posters that said “We Are Human” and “Stop the Hate” and several other handmade ones.
I saw determination and a positive attitude from the crowd.
After three hours at Falcon Park waiting to start the march, I saw people of different cultures, backgrounds and ideas join together as one.
It inspired me and made me feel like anything was possible.
The crowd of 10,000 left Falcon Park while I went into my father’s truck and headed to La Gran Bota to distribute water. As I waited, I felt the need to join my fellow marchers, and decided to join after I distributed water to many.
I ended up starting behind a group that did an Aztec spiritual dance and progressed from there. The march would eventually end in front of the infamous Tent City.
As I marched, I heard many people chanting, “¡Arpaio! ¡Escucha! ¡El pueblo está en la lucha!” and “¡El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido!” These translate to “Arpaio! Listen! The people are in the fight!” and “The people, united, will never be defeated!”
An English chant yelled included “Hey hey! Ho ho! Sheriff Joe’s gotta go!”
The chants and the fervor people had brought me to shout these chants, giving me the right spirit for a peaceful protest.
Unfortunately, not all of the people there were in the mood to protest peacefully.
As we passed Buckeye Road prior to Tent City, a group of anarchists dressed in black and holding vulgar signs clashed with the city police.
I was next to this group on the sidewalk when out of nowhere they split up and I saw police officers attacking them and using pepper spray on the group including children.
The anarchists beat a police horse and injured the policewoman in doing so.
All this commotion gave me adrenaline, for this was my first protest, and never had I thought that I would see such an act. After the appalling moment, I continued on to reach Tent City and shortly returned back to assist with distributing water.
This experience was eye opening and showed me the truth that occurs with the way Sheriff Arpaio treats his inmates.
As a Latino, I am baffled that my fellow community has to live in fear because of the sheriff’s inability to understand immigrants.
I am hopeful he finds that understanding soon.