by Jim Nintzel
Citing Arizona's new immigration law, Latin hip-hop band Cypress Hill has canceled a May 21 appearance at downtown's Rialto Theatre to protest Arizona's new immigration law.
In a show of resistance to the criminalization of immigrant communities and in opposition to SB1070, recently signed into Arizona legislation, Cypress Hill has elected to cancel a performance scheduled in Tucson for May 21, 2010. This decision was made in an effort to show support and solidarity with those, undocumented and otherwise, being directly affected by this unconstitutional "law". Cypress Hill recognizes those living in the struggle for their basic civil rights. Rise Up!
Dear B Real, Sen Dog, and the rest of the Cypress Hill organization,
I have just learned of your inclination to cancel your scheduled Tucson show at my venue, the Rialto Theatre, on May 21st, over Arizona's recently passed SB 1070 legislation.
Let me express my general agreement with the idea of boycotting a state that would pass such a law, both as an objection to such an anti-human-rights piece of legislation and as a means of applying pressure that might prevent the law from taking effect or cause it to be rescinded it if it does take effect, as planned, in July. A boycott from high-profile Hispanic artists such as yourselves sends a very strong message that this hateful legislation should not be tolerated by any respectable society. However, there are several reasons why I hope you will consider not canceling the show, and instead use it as an opportunity to let your voices be heard, loud and clear, that this law is unacceptable and that many millions of us in Arizona and nationwide are determined to stop SB 1070 with any
civil means at our disposal.
First let me tell you a little bit about The Rialto Theatre and our organization. The Theatre opened in 1920 and among many other incarnations, it was a Spanish-language movie house through much of the '70s and '80s. It is a critical part of Tucson's cultural heritage that serves a very diverse array of audiences. The Rialto Theatre Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit entity dedicated to the stewardship of the historic Rialto Theatre, as well as to bringing the best in musical and other culture to Tucson. To a person, everyone involved with the Rialto loves music dearly and it is our organizational reason for being. Without digressing too much, I can tell you that we all are very excited about having Cypress Hill perform here, because we take great pride in the opportunity to host artists of your caliber. We were thrilled that you liked the mural we had painted on the side of the venue well enough to post it on your website. So suffice to say it'd be a great disappointment to us as fans of Cypress Hill if the show didn't happen. But furthermore, as a non-profit, we tend to struggle a bit with our financial situation from time to time, and to lose a big show like we anticipated having with you would obviously be detrimental to us in that regard as well.
Undoubtedly, you've considered the impact a potential cancellation would have on your fans here in southern Arizona, many of whom are Hispanic-Americans or for that matter, Mexican nationals (if they are not themselves boycotting our state). But I sense a lot of excitement out there about the show — from comments on our Facebook page, from talk on the radio, from the sheer number of people I've seen getting photographed in front of our mural, from what our street team people tell us, etc. It's been many years since you've played here and fans are eager (and excited about the new record). These fans had nothing to do with SB 1070 being passed, and in fact are among those in the state most vocally against it. So they'd be suffering the consequences of a foolish and hateful governor and legislature, which is unfair to them, although they wouldn't (and shouldn't) blame you for that — only the state government.
You might have also heard that first a police officer in Tucson, and then the city governments of Tucson (and Flagstaff) have filed Federal lawsuits challenging SB 1070's constitutionality. I have read a lot of legal analysis that strongly suggests that SB 1070 will not survive a legal challenge because it is unconstitutional, but of course that process could potentially take a long time to play out, and meanwhile thousands of people could be harassed or worse simply because they look Hispanic and can now be racially profiled under color of law. You probably did not hear about the May Day rally in Tucson that brought out an estimated 10,000 people (including Linda Ronstadt and Representative Raul Grijalva) this past Saturday. In addition, the Sheriff of Pima County, Clarence Dupnik, has taken a very strong vocal stand against SB 1070 and has said he'd be extremely disinclined to enforce it. In our city, there is an overwhelming consensus against what the state has done and legal steps are being taken to fight it. Your (and our) fight is not with Tucson, but rather certain elements within our state legislature.
So instead of canceling, it is my sincere hope that you'll consider joining with us to strenuously object to this incredibly backwards legislation, and still undertake the May 21st performance as a rebuke to those that would attempt to give the force of law to racial disharmony. There are many ways we can leverage the national media attention over this issue to amplify our dissenting voices, and I'd like to propose that we team up on a full-scale media blitz — press conference on the show day with you and us, press releases going out to local and national media about how you were inclined to cancel the show but instead are using it to let your voice be heard, filming of the press conference to post on our website and yours, etc. In addition, I propose that we will donate 50% of any profits from the show to Chicanos por la Causa (http://www.cplc.org/) and/or Humane Borders (http://humaneborders.org/) and that you consider donating a portion of your artist fee from the show to these organizations as well, or to a related charity of your choice.
As I said initially, a boycott can send a powerful message, but I truly think that the approach I am proposing will have a far greater impact, and I (and your fans) will get the added benefit of getting to see Cypress Hill perform at the Rialto!
To borrow your new album title, I think this is how we 'Rise Up.'
Thank you for considering this and know that we are in league with you on this matter, regardless of what you ultimately decide.
All the best
General Manager, The Rialto Theatre