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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Racist vigilantes intimidate Latino voters in Tucson

Arizona has a history of whites intimidating or denying voting access to Latinos. Many people forget that Arizona was a segregated state. William Rehnquist, the now thankfully dead former US Supreme Court Chief Justice, cut his teeth in Arizona intimidating and barring Latino voters from the rolls when he was an attorney.

So, while it is surely a distressing development, it is hardly a break with tradition for racist vigilantes to target Latinos in an effort to keep them from the polls. The Arizona Republic today reports that racists in Tucson have been active around polling stations, questioning Latino voters - while armed - with the clear intent of turning them away from the polls, probably with the specific hope of increasing the chances that the racist Proposition 300 will pass by reducing Latino votes.

Here is the article from the Republic:
Alleged 'vigilantes' target Latino voters in Tucson

Yvonne Wingett
The Arizona Republic
Nov. 7, 2006 04:36 PM

Latino voters casting ballots at a south Tucson church on Tuesday were approached by "vigilantes," said the national Hispanic advocacy group, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Diego Bernal, a staff attorney with the organization, was with volunteers at the 49th precinct polling place to answer voters' questions about identity requirements. Reached by cell phone, Bernal said he witnessed three men stop only Latino voters as they entered and exited the polls. Voters were approached by one man carrying a camcorder, one holding a clipboard, and one a holstered gun.

"As one man was going up to the voter with the clipboard, another man was videotaping the interaction,"Bernal said. "At the same time, the third man was walking around with a gun on his waist. They were being provocative. They would have conversations with each other, where they were using mock Spanish accents. It was upsetting."

Tucsonan Russell Dove, an anti-illegal immigration advocate, acknowledged that he and two others were at the 49th precinct. He said he was asking voters to sign a petition to protest that election material is printed in Spanish. The two men that accompanied him were there to record his interactions with people "because there's always a potential for a fight wherever I go." Dove is the editor of the online periodical, "Truth in Action," at www.tianews.com .

Dove, 50, said he went to six or seven precincts in search of signatures. He said he did not intimidate anyone.

"I was taking photos of all voters of all precincts," he said. "Why? Because I can, and because they were there. All the pictures will be compiled and run against a database, and if we find anyone who is illegal, we will do everything within our lawful right to find and expose them."
This is a troubling sign indeed. Regardless of anarchist criticisms of voting, this tendency needs to be opposed not least because it derives from an overall trend to deny basic, fundamental rights to residents based solely on race. Further, it seeks to exclude those effected by a racist law from having a say in whether it is approved. As such, it reinforces the system of white power. Attacking that system ought to be a priority for anarchist revolutionaries because it is from a fracturing of that system that a new American revolution is likely to sprout.

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