On the Ground in Tucson, Arizona's SB 1070 Not So Popular
"We call them Maricopa Morons," said Charlie about the conservative county to the north, as he sat on a bench on 4th Avenue, smoking away a Saturday afternoon.
Polls say a plurality of Arizonans support the passage of SB1070, Arizona’s racial-profiling law, but I didn't find them during a recent long weekend in Tucson. Instead, the people I met seemed to be the other Arizona. Frank Stockton was typical, "I don't know what they're up to up there [at the state capital.] Mexico has always been a pretty good friend to Arizona."
Tucson is the closest city to the big border town of Nogales Arizona, the other half of which is Nogales, Mexico. The location is right in the path of illegal workers coming to the US, a group that has been declining since 2008.
The day before I arrived, on May 5, 7,000 protesters had gathered to oppose the new law. Just a day later, life in Tucson seemed to be going on pretty much as usual. That shouldn't be a surprise. Traditionally, Tucson has always been more activist about music, than about government. (Just today, however, Erykah Badu and Cypress Hill canceled planned concerts over the issue.)
Maybe it was because the half Mexican-American city was used to political grandstanding from up north. Or maybe it was because local sheriff, Clarence Dupnik, had already said he didn't intend to enforce the law. But Lyn Southerland told me that “Cinco de Mayo crowds” had been “smaller around town,” which she attributed to the chilling effect of the new law.
There were afternoon protests by students at Tucson high schools. But the kids were protesting the other nutty idea — ending Tucson's successful Mexican-American cultural education programs. That idea has since become law too.Continued on the next page