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August 20

Statement on recent repression and arrests in Tucson, Arizona where police have targeted 12 people with felony “riot” charges following a noise demonstration outside a jail.

12 people were arrested following a noise demonstration at the Pima County Adult Detention Complex in Tucson, AZ on Wednesday evening, August 14th. All 12 arrestees were held overnight in the facility and subsequently charged with one count of felony “riot” each on Thursday morning. The protest took place on the public sidewalk in front of the jail on Wednesday night. After protesters left the sidewalk without any contact with police or dispersal warnings given, officers from the Pima County Sheriff’s Department surrounded and arrested 10 people about a half a mile away from the jail as they walked down the river trail. Police used aerial surveillance to track down two more people on bicycles who were alleged to have been at the demo, arresting them nearly two miles away from the jail.

Noise demonstrations are a common form of protest typically held outside of jails, prisons, or detention centers to show solidarity with incarcerated people. Participants often bring speakers to play music, and make noise with instruments, pots, pans, whistles, and their voices. These demonstrations aim to contest the isolation experienced by prisoners with a display of festive joy and care towards those held captive on the inside.

Noise demonstrations are organized by people who want to protest mass incarceration and detention conditions. They are held to reject the logic of punishment and incarceration. Prison abolitionists believe that punitive measures such as criminal charges and imprisonment do not address the root causes of societal and systemic problems. Prisons are an attempt to cover up problems such as poverty or patriarchical violence allowing them to perpetuate themselves rather than directly address the issues which produce the conditions that cause ‘crime’. Prison abolitionists believe that communities should devise solutions and processes to address troubles as they appear rather than the State whom does not have the community’s best interests in mind.

“Riot” statutes have been levied against participants in political demonstrations with increasing frequency in recent years. Protestors in the infamous counter-inaugural J20 case, as well as demonstrators at Black Lives Matter protests across the country, and participants at Standing Rock have faced such charges. The increasing ‘riotization’ of protest can be understood as a means to undermine and repress political activity. This extreme police response in Tucson comes a week after a heavily armed Trump supporter was found parked outside of a migrant resource center in El Paso brandishing a knife and carrying a gun with multiple magazines. He was subsequently released without arrest or charges.

‘”Riot” statutes have been levied against participants in political demonstrations with increasing frequency in recent years. Protestors in the infamous counter-inaugural J20 case, as well as demonstrators at Black Lives Matter protests across the country, and participants at Standing Rock have faced such charges. The increasing ‘riotization’ of protest can be understood as a means to undermine and repress political activity.”

In light of the current climate around immigrant detention centers and ICE we could intrepret these charges as a way for the government to set a harsh precedent for any kind of protest activity associated with detention facilities, jails, and prisons. How can we continue to expand resistance in the face of growing repression? What would it mean if felony charges became the norm for even basic noise demos? We recognize that the increasing trend of the over-criminalization of protest is an imposition by the state to deter our movements. We must combat it.

Other recent protests have also targeted the Pima County Detention Complex. In August of last year, protesters blockaded the facility calling for the removal of Immigration and Customs Enforcement from the jail. Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier maintains a desk for ICE at the facility and actively collaborates with Border Patrol to detain and deport undocumented residents who come into contact with the Pima County Sheriff’s Department. Further details about this action are available here.

Arrestees had various personal items confiscated and are facing legal battles ahead. You can donate to their legal fund here. Any leftover money after these cases are resolved will be donated to other future legal funds and anti-repression efforts. If you can’t donate, that’s okay, it’s important that we all be aware of what’s happening in the era we’re in. Please spread the word about this case and its implications to people where you’re at.

Fundraiser link: https://www.gofundme.com/f/fundraiser-for-tucson-arrestees

XOXO

Love and solidarity!

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