"I WILL NOT COMPLY"
I went to Phoenix today to join hundreds of other concerned citizens protesting the signing of SB1070 the unjust and racist immigration legislation by Gov. Brewer. It is hard to belive Arizona legislature chose this path. I held a sign written with, "I WILL NOT COMPLY". This states clearly that I will not comply to the call to turn in my neighbor or any other person I might know who I think might be undocumented. The impact of this legislation on the Hispanic community in southern AZ and all over AZ is enormous. Racial profiling is already a big problem here and now this legislation will heighten the tension and fear felt here in Tucson. (especially after 800 ICE agents raided South Tucson a few weeks ago - some wearing ski masks - all armed.)
To top this experience was stumbling upon the Gila River Japanese Internment Camps on the Gila River Indian Reservation. Holy SMokes we stopped for gas at this lonely gas station and argued over the fact that the building across the country road was a church or not. I said nop way. as a result we drove over there and read the plaques. It was Canal Camp, one fo the two internment camps during WWII. After the protest was over we drove back to look around. The gas station worker told us how to drive the 4 miles to the Butte Internment Camp. We drove and drove through orange and pecan orchards - way out in the desolate desert and there sat a monument on a hill.
Oh my gosh, it was really upsetting to know that over 13,000 Japanese Americans were held captive in the area. At it's peak over 8,000 people were incarcerated at Butte Camp. From the hilltop you can see foundations of buildings, roads, and other rubble of destroyed buildings from the camp. We drove around a bit and you could see foundations, destroyed buildings, roads, sewers and other cement and metal structures.
I learned about these camps years and years ago but never thought of them in a concrete way (I guess) until today. On another visit I am going to go to the museum to learn some more about the people in the camps, their lives under incarceration and to learn about all of the prisoners who served in WWII while their families were incarcerated at the camps. Butte Camps was like a complete city inside of a prison camp. Back in the mid to late 1940s the Gila River Japanese Internment Camp was the 4th largest city in Arizona!
I wonder how many migrants are incarcerated/live in the detentions centers/prisons throughout Arizona? If they were all counted - I wonder where the population of these centers/camps rate among the largest populations centers in Arizona?! So---maybe the Japanese Internment Camps are not so much a part of the past but rather - now - come in the form of migrant detention centers?!
Some thoughts to ponder.
Rev. Mary Schaller Blaufuss
Executive for Volunteer Ministries
700 Prospect Ave.