Last Friday Carolina Kawarik, a Member of Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Chandler, Arizona, was arrested while protesting Arizona’s anti-immigrant law SB 1070. When Carolina was asked why she committed civil disobedience, this was her response:
I have been asked why I committed civil disobedience recently.
Being a UU calls me to many things, but most of all to respect the inherent worth and dignity of all people. I believe that it matters deeply how we treat one another – how we honor our community; whether it’s our faith community, our local community, or our human community. SB 1070 violates the very ideas, ideals, and principles I hold dear.
By the sheer fortune of the location of my birth, I immigrated to this country easily, had permanent resident status for most of my life, and was able to get my citizenship within a year and a half of applying. Many others wait 20 years or more. Why?
Our immigration policy is dysfunctional and has led to a situation where AZ and other states feel the need to pass immoral legislation to “manage” the challenges that come with a large undocumented population. SB1070, however, will lead to more fear, undue suspicion, increased polarization, and escalating conflict within our communities – it already has – and it isn’t even in effect yet.
As Carlos Garcia of Puente said: “We have done four marches now in the last year, nothing has changed, the administration hasn’t acted, the state has gotten worse…
… the courts aren’t listening to us, the federal government’s not listening to us…
… we’re hoping change comes soon”.
We had one week left before this law put its stranglehold on our state – and there came a point where I felt obligated no longer to simply stand with the immigrant community here – but to stand out for them. I chose to take a risk that day for those who cannot do so – to join the the increasing number of voices for those whose voices go unheard. Listen…
SB1070 must be repealed or struck down.
We need realistic, humane, and comprehensive immigration reform.
We need to address and eliminate the systemic racism and discrimination that permeate our nation and our world.
There is no “us”. There is no “them”.
There is only “We – all – together”
We’re hoping change comes soon.
July 23, 2010
In 1985, I was sitting in a sidewalk cafe in Zagreb in what was then Yugoslavia, talking with a young local woman. We had been sitting there for a while, and this was apparently suspicious behavior, because eventually an armed man in uniform (I don’t know if he was police or military — or if there was much of a difference) approached us and asked us for our papers. The experience was unnerving… and that was the intent. Once he saw my U.S. passport, he was very apologetic. The objective was not to intimidate U.S. tourists. The objective was to intimidate the citizens.
On July 29, Arizona law S.B. 1070 is scheduled to go into effect. This law directs local law enforcement agencies to ask people whom they suspect might be illegal immigrants for their papers (if they have been stopped for any other infraction). Thus, those who are immigrants (and those who might be suspected of being immigrants) must carry around their papers at all times or else risk arrest. Being required to carry one’s papers around is an early and common tactic used by totalitarian regimes to intimidate people and keep them in line. This is not to say that the vast majority of people who support this law do so out of malevolence, but make no mistake, this is not benign. This law is not just about “illegal” immigrants. This law is about legally intimidating people who look different (after all, who looks like an illegal immigrant? Will they be going after everyone who looks Canadian? Or Irish?).
When the Nazis first went into Denmark, the story goes that they announced that the Jews would all have to wear yellow Stars of David on their clothing so that they could be easily identified. In response, the King of Denmark rode out the next morning wearing a yellow Star of David. The rest of the population then followed his example. The Nazis couldn’t tell who was Jewish so the Jews were saved. It turns out that this story isn’t true – Jews were never required to wear the special marker in Denmark – but the Danish King and citizens really did stand in solidarity with their Jewish brothers and sisters, which helped the vast majority of them to survive the occupation.
One can understand why the apocryphal story is still told, however, because it is true that the Nazis commonly used such markers to label vulnerable minorities. For example, they required foreign forced laborers to wear blue triangles. Knowing that, and in the spirit of the Danish story, I was moved to create an event on facebook inviting people to “Wear Your Papers” on July 29th. You simply need to affix a blue inverted triangle to your clothing and stand in solidarity with your brothers and sisters in Arizona.
This isn’t about immigration. It is about how we treat the people who are here. Let’s take a stand. Stand on the side of love.
Master of Divinity student at Wesley Theological Seminary
Earlier this month, we asked you to come to Arizona to stand witness in the face of the draconian immigration law set to go into effect on July 29th. More than 100 of you volunteered to make the journey to join me for the National Day of Non-Compliance.
This week, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton is hearing several lawsuits against Arizona’s proposed new law, brought by law enforcement officials and the Obama Administration. We are all watching to see if the law will still go into effect.
No matter how Judge Bolton rules, the broken system that precipitated the proposed law will still be in place. It is important that we keep the injustices of our immigration system at the forefront of our thoughts and actions. In response to this injustice, communities across the country are hosting prayers and actions in solidarity.
Can you plan or attend a vigil in your community in solidarity against injustice as a part of the July 29th-August 1st National Weekend of Prayer and Action for Immigrant Justice?
Next week, I will be alongside more than 100 volunteers joining clergy, lay leaders, and immigrants’ rights activists on the ground in Phoenix to stand with immigrants and Americans who fear that they will be targeted by police because of the color of their skin. By standing together, we can strongly demonstrate our commitment to a just society that respects the rights of all individuals.
Will you stand with me in your community, and add strength to our voice in solidarity against unjust racial profiling and a broken immigration system?
Plan a prayer vigil or similar action in your community and add it to the list here:
Whether your vigil has 3 people or 30 people, you will be joining a movement of communities across the country standing in solidarity with immigrants and fair-minded Arizonans who want better for their state.
As proceedings continue to develop on the ground, I will be providing updates to keep you informed. With the help of volunteers, we will be producing video and reporting on the increasingly tense situation.
I hope you will join your voice to mine in solidarity against racial profiling and an unjust immigration system.
Standing on the Side of Love
P.S. After you register we will send you everything you need to plan a successful event.More >
I wanted to let you know how the UU Churches of Greater Cleveland stood on the side of love during this years Gay Pride Parade. I’ve been attending the Pride parade almost every year since my husband and I were called as co-ministers to the West Shore Unitarian Universalist church. Every year we see the same individuals and church groups, standing on the sidewalks of the parade, shouting into their bullhorns offensive, hurtful and homophobic slurs. They also stand on the side with signs that say “God hates fags” or quote bible verses out of context. It is very distressing to many of us, but no one took action–until this year.
I have also been a member of an interfaith and ecumenical group called “The Spiritual Leaders of Cleveland”. Our purpose is to stand as religious leaders on the side of love, justice and in support of BGLT rights. We are gay and straight, partnered and single clergy and lay leaders who have been meeting monthly for almost ten years now; have collaborated on interfaith pride services, grieved when the Marriage Amendment passed in Ohio, and have celebrated the small victories. This year I brought a proposal to the group. This year, instead of being passive victims, we were going to Stand on the Side of Love as Angels. Taking inspiration from the “angels” that were present at Matthew Shepherds funeral service, we enlisted members of other denominations, as well as our own Queer and Allies Group, to create “angel wings” as a barrier against the hate filled speech makers that would inevitably be lining the parade. In addition to holding an angel-wing making workshop, we also offered non-violent training, so that all of the angels would be able to create a non-violent act of resistance. We especially recruited non-gay persons, believing that as allies, we should absorb some of the hate speech as part of what it means to be an ally.
Unfortunately, I was unable to make the parade this year, as General Assembly and the Gay Pride Parade were held during the same weekend. Regardless, the Angel Wings project went on and it was a smashing success. Below is just one of the many letters our folks received about the angel wings. I am also attaching some photographs for your enjoyment. Notice that our “Standing on the Side of Love” banner was prominent–and that our own Congressman Dennis Kucinich was supportive of our effort!
I am very proud of the congregation I serve and the Spiritual Leaders Group, but never more proud to be part of this faith tradition, who not only stands up for justice, but is willing to don angel wings and be a non-violent witness for the power of love. It was a beautiful thing and I wanted to share it with you.
Blessings on your work
Rev. Kathleen Rolenz
West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church
July 4th, 2010
Dear West Shore Unitarian Universalists,
I wanted to write to thank you for your glorious angels at the Cleveland Pride Parade. My partner and I have marched in the Cleveland Pride Parade many times over the past 8 years. Recently, we were blessed with the birth of our son. He is 10 weeks old now and he is the joy of our lives.
Last year the protesters really bothered me as they directed their yells at my partner and I (she is an Episcopal priest and was wearing her collar). This year, I just couldn’t imagine having people yelling horrible things at my baby so we decided not to march. But we still attended the festival and had a good time with friends.
Just today, I read in the Gay People’s Chronicle how your community organized a barrier of loving people to shield those marching from those spewing hatred. I was so happy, I got misty eyed. I hope that you will continue this loving act in future Pride parades, so my wife, my son and I can feel safe marching next year.
Thank you so much,
Lona Caires D.O.
OK, so I didn’t actually go to the game, I went to the Anaheim Angels Stadium where this year’s All Star Game was being played, to be part of a protest with about 100 other people. We were not protesting baseball at all. Some of us are pretty avid ball fans. Our signs and our chants were to protest AZ’s SB1070 by asking that the All-Star Game planned for Phoenix in 2011 be moved elsewhere.
I had been invited by CLUE OC (Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice of Orange County) yet when I arrived it turned out I was the only minister present. Seems it is not only UU ministers who go on vacation in July. Most of the folks there were Latino/Latina, some bilingual, many Spanish speaking only. They represented several labor unions, young people from the “DreamTeam,” and others in groups such as “Janitors for Justice.” Enrique Morones was there from the Border Angels and he knew who UU’s were… that we were “Standing on the Side of Love!” My congregant Dawn Usher and I sang the song at the Labor Office. Several people asked Dawn and I to talk about our faith tradition with them and, of course, we happily obliged. I have also asked some of them to be in our pulpit.
It was a warm day in Anaheim, in the high 80′s, as we marched around a huge banner, our signs held high, chanting and passing out fliers. Mounted police were there as well as a pretty large police presence and they were all just great to us. The folks who were attending the games responses were everything from rude, to curious, and a good number of them supportive. We had lots of press attention.
We were all exhausted but exhilarated after several hours. I don’t think most people really understand the nature of the broken immigration process or want to face their own fears or the backlash against minorities as racially motivated. They only see this as a quick and less expensive fix to the real problems in our country.
If we keep showing up, everywhere, Standing on the Side of Love, we will be making the best of friends in the Latino/a/Hispanic community, as we did that day, and it will be impossible to ignore that Todos Somos Arizona. Si se puede!
Lee Marie Sanchez
Consulting Minister, UU Church in Anaheim