Getting governments to change policy isn't an easy task. What it takes is an organizing effort that hardly ever flinches. Some think protest is all it takes—people filling the streets or blocking traffic—but that would be a mistake. I guess you could say over the past few years I've become a conesieur of good organizing. Some people are into cheese and wine. For the record, I've never rejected a good cheese or Spanish red wine. Same with good organizers and in Tucson we're blessed to have a solid number involved in so many areas of life and at times their work intersects.
There are moments, and sometimes they are so small they are always recognizable to those who only see protest signs or hear a good solid chant coming out of a megaphone, moments you know it all came together. Moments you recognize the hard work organizers have put in to create change.
Last week's Tucson City Council meeting was one of those moments, when they approved a School Resource Officer deal between the Tucson Unified School District and Tucson Police Department to reinforce that police on campuses cannot ask a student their immigration status unless vital to an investigation and only with permission from a parent, guardian or attorney
Those long involved in organizing or protesting against Arizona's poli-migra state have expressed their doubts, and while it's true that only time will tell if this agreement will work, it's still worth celebrating while carefully observing.
It's also worth pointing out that this is an important policy shift. TPD has never wavered from its stance that it is hand-tied in dealing with SB1070. Status must be asked, they've said, even if they may not agree with the "papers please" law. Routine traffic stops are the starting points of family separation, and yes, even protest.
Well-intentioned good organizers, like Raul Alcaraz Ochoa and others from Southside Presbyterian Church and organizations like Casa Mariposa, have taken us by the hand to show us how it's done—protest, constantly speaking out at city council meetings and more. They teach us that if you keep focused, make sure your organizing has several arms with the same goal and you rise above the political bickering that always happens in movements, you can make change.
So cheers. This happened. Now onto the next goal ... those routine traffic stops and more. There's always something, but don't forget change in policy rarely happens in a vacuum and it rarely happens from the kindness of politicians. If politicians were that kind or willing to make change, well, then things would be different.
That's why we need good organizers, and that's why Tucson is lucky to have them.
Mari Herreras, Managing Editor