Report back from noise demo in Eloy, Arizona, following the sentencing of four No More Deaths volunteers.
In the early evening of January 19th, a crowd of about 40 people gathered outside of the immigrant detention center in Eloy, AZ and made a fuck ton of noise. The demo was called in response to the recent convictions of 4 humanitarian aid volunteers for leaving water and supplies for migrants on the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge is one of the harshest environments in North America, and has been the site of countless recovered and unrecovered human remains. There are currently 5 others awaiting trial, including Scott Warren who is facing felony harboring and conspiracy charges for giving aid to some travelers outside of Ajo, AZ.
So in an attempt to affirm a commitment of solidarity with migrants crossing the deadly Sonoran desert, and quite honestly to have a little cathartic fun, we all got to it pretty quickly. It really helps to exercise that nervous system after so much stress. 5 gallon buckets, pots and pans, air horns, drums, megaphones, and voices began to raise a symphony across the desert field between us and the detention center. Banners were unfurled proclaiming “water not walls” and “Prong horns against border militarization.” Someone also brought sage to burn and allow people to put good intentions into the air, and once night fell red road flares were lit and a portable sound system blasted revolutionary hip-hop into the night sky.
The area around the detention center is a pretty desolate area, what many outside the southwestern US might imagine a desert to look like. This stands in stark contrast to the reality of the Sonoran desert where the center resides. The truth is that its an incredibly diverse and delicate bioregion, if admittedly harsh. There are species of plant and animal life here that exist in no other region of the world, which are constantly under threat from capitalist development. Everything from copper mines, to bombing ranges, to prisons and detention centers, and of course a huge (already existing) border fence and wall that cuts like a scar directly through the traditional territory of the O’odham Nation and the habitat of the Sonoran Pronghorn.
For those who don’t know, the Sonoran Pronghorns are a unique subspecies of pronghorn found only in the Sonoran desert in Arizona, California, and Sonora, Mexico, who’s numbers have been pushed to the brink of extinction by human civilization. This is the partial justification for the prosecution of humanitarian aid workers, claiming they are ruining the “pristine and delicate” desert by leaving supplies for migrants who are crossing. A drop in the proverbial bucket while the US military gets to bomb the shit out of areas surrounding the “delicate” area. Trump wants to build an even bigger wall which will further disrupt migration patterns of not just people but non human animals and Border Patrol gets to drive around anywhere they damn well please in pursuit of “illegal border crossers.” The epitome of a concept of “wilderness” that functions as a colonial, management project to “preserve” areas once interconnected and full of life.
So here we stood, in loud defiance of this entire way of life. Like many other creatures, humans have migrated for our entire existence on this planet. Free movement for people has only become a radical idea in an age so hell bent on separation, control and management of humans and nature. For now, walls will keep things the way they are. But nothing is permanent. Either by flood, drought, fire, or by our hands, these walls will fall.