General Assembly 2012 Event 437
In preparation to witness at a center of human rights abuses, we gather to pray, sing and center ourselves. This non-violent witness is central to our faith, our theology, and our affirmation of the inherent worth and dignity of all. Let us strengthen ourselves with worship before our witness.
Order of Service
- Entrance Music: Witness Songs led by Rev. Kellie Walker
- Prelude: "Bound for Freedom," emma’s revolution
- Opening Words & Chalice Lighting
- "Why We Witness": Rev. Craig Roshaven, Witness Ministries Director; Susan Leslie, Congregational Advocacy and Witness Director
- Introduction of Personal Testimonies: B. Loewe, Communications Director, National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON)
- Fernando Lopez
- Viridiana Hernandez
- Adelina Nicholls
- Why We Witness in AZ: Carlos Garcia, Puente
- Chant Response to the Testimonials
- Prayer: Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, Unitarian Universalist (UU) Congregation of Phoenix, Arizona Immigration Ministry
- Logistics: Sandy Weir, Arizona Immigration Ministry
- Closing Words: Rev. Craig Roshaven, Carlos Garcia
- Postlude: "Keep on Moving Forward," emma’s revolution
- Recessional to the Buses: Brass Lung
REV. KELLIE WALKER: —as people continue to come back into the hall.
This is a new chorus to an older song, "We Believe in Life." I have always loved the power of Shelly Jackson Denham's song, "We Laugh, We Cry," especially that chorus, "And we believe in life and in the strength of love." When I asked her if she would be willing to write new chorus words to use at this Justice GA, she was eager to do so.
We are, tonight, premiering these new words, which you can also find in the new, downloadable packet of Justice Songs that we just put up on our website, Voices Calling: Songs for Justice Now. The website is vuu.org. I'll sing it through first, so you can hear how it goes. And then, please sing with me a second time through.
[MUSIC - SHELLY JACKSON DENHAM, "WE LAUGH, WE CRY"]
Entrance Music: "We Believe in Life"
Oh we believe in Life,
and in the strength of Love,
And we will strive for freedom together.
Power and privilege for few
Deny social justice for all,
And Equality is the answer.
Words and Music : Shelly Jackson Denham, 1950- new vs. c. 2012
REV. KELLIE WALKER: Sing with me, if you haven't already.
[MUSIC - SHELLY JACKSON DENHAM, "WE LAUGH, WE CRY]
REV. KELLIE WALKER: And now it is my pleasure to introduce two women who have worked tirelessly, all over the country, for social justice, through their careers as musicians. Here are Pat Humphries and Sandy O, of Emma's Revolution.
SANDY O: Thank you so much. Please help us to welcome our friend, Gary Johnson, from LA.
SANDY O: And sing with us, if you know the song. You can pick up the chorus.
[MUSIC - EMMA'S REVOLUTION, "BOUND FOR FREEDOM"]
Prelude: "Bound for Freedom"
In Montgomery and in Selma and the streets of Birmingham
The people sent a message to the leaders of the land.
We have fought and we have suffered but we know the wrong from right.
We are family, we are neighbors, we are black and we are white.
Here I go bound for freedom, may my truth take the lead
Not the preacher, not the congress, not the millionaire but me
I will organize for justice. I will raise my voice in song.
And our children will be free to lead the world and carry on.
From a cell in Pennsylvania, from an inmate on death row,
Mumia had the courage to expose the evil show.
From the court room to the board room in the television's glare
How the greedy live off poor and hungry people everywhere.
Here I go though I'm standing on my own,
I remember those before me and I know I'm not alone.
I will organize for justice. I will raise my voice in song,
And our children will be free to lead the world and carry on.
From the streets of New York City 'cross the ocean and beyond
People from all nations create a common bond.
With our conscience as our weapon, we are witness to the fall.
We are simple, we are brilliant,
We are one and we are all.
©1997 Pat Humphries, Moving Forward Music, BMI, emma's revolution
Frame and Opening Words (Lighting the Chalice): Why We Witness
REV. CRAIG ROSHAVEN: We are here to witness for justice, for the people of Arizona.
REV. FRED HAMMOND: We are here to witness for justice for the people of every state in these United States.
REV. CRAIG ROSHAVEN: We're here to shine a light on inhumanity of tent city. We are here to expose the cruel and racist practices of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Department.
REV. FRED HAMMOND: We are here to accompany those who are most affected, as they challenge the inhumane policies and practices of the State of Arizona.
REV. CRAIG ROSHAVEN: We are here to challenge the morality of a law that results in racial profiling, harassment, fear, and the tearing apart of families. We are here to call for an end to the federal government's so-called Secure Communities Program of mass detention and deportation.
REV. FRED HAMMOND: We are here to face injustice with witness and compassion. We are here to grieve for all the children who have lost a parent. We are here to pierce the fog of denial and disbelief.
REV. CRAIG ROSHAVEN: We are here to name all those who have died or been abused in detention. We are here to demand that no more deaths take place at the border. The abuses that have occurred, and are occurring in Arizona, are happening across our country. Copycat anti-immigration legislation has been passed in many states. The Department of Homeland Security's misnamed Security Community Programs is making us less secure. It has made every state an Arizona.
REV. FRED HAMMOND: If people across this land were just see what is happening here, their hearts would be broken. Justice would prevail. What has occurred and is occurring would stop. Our task is to make what is invisible visible.
REV. FRED HAMMOND: Our task is to make what is the deniable undeniable. Our task is to make what is unseen seen.
REV. CRAIG ROSHAVEN: Let us stand in solidarity with all people. Let us stand on the side of love, as we witness for the humanity, et al. So we pray, so we promise. We light this chalice, to celebrate our chosen faith, a faith in justice, a faith of peace, of faith of love. Come, let us worship together.
Meditation On Breathing
REV. KELLIE WALKER: Many of you know the chorus of Sarah Dan Jones' "Meditation on Breathing," which she wrote as part of a longer song in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. September. I would like to now introduce you to the Spanish words, if you don't already know them. And Andrea's going to help me. We start with—
ANDREA: [SPEAKING SPANISH] That's it. [SPEAKING SPANISH]
REV. KELLIE WALKER: Why don't you say that?
[INTERPOSING VOICES][SPEAKING SPANISH]
REV. KELLIE WALKER: Now that's the part that was, [SINGING] The rhythm's slightly different to get the right accent. So it's—
[INTERPOSING VOICES][SINGING IN SPANISH]
REV. KELLIE WALKER: If you want to just stay on that, that's fine. The other part, the words are—
ANDREA: [SPEAKING SPANISH]
REV. KELLIE WALKER: Now, I know I wasn't in the right key. So—[HUMMING] So that part is— [HUMMING]
[SINGING IN SPANISH]
REV. KELLIE WALKER: Great. We'll do it a couple of times, starting with the "a-spiro, e-spiro" part. Then we'll layer the other in.
[SINGING IN SPANISH]
REV. KELLIE WALKER: Keep that up.
[SINGING IN SPANISH]
REV. KELLIE WALKER: Thank you.
Introduction to the Personal Testimonials
B. LOEWE: Thank you for that Meditation on Breathing. Let's all take one breath, collectively. Breathe in, and breathe out. It's important that we ground ourselves and serve to ground each other, as we take on the tasks we're called for, here, in Arizona. My name is B, and I have the honor of working for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.
B. LOEWE: As many of you have probably experienced on this trip, my first trip to Arizona was in 2009. Before arriving, I held two hard, conflicting emotions. I was scared. I had heard of the armed Minutemen. I had seen footage of the heartless sheriff. And it felt like I'd be descending into some form of a war zone.
And at the same time, I was resolute. I sent my family an email. It said that, as an Italian, whose family was forced to assimilate, I will not allow anyone else to have their culture erased.
B. LOEWE: It's said that, as the descendant of German Jews, who knows what it is, in my blood, to have the police hunt you down. I would not stand idly by, as that happens in my own country.
B. LOEWE: I was taught, from a young age, that if you hear someone yell out, you see if there is a way that you can help. Arizona has sounded that call. And we all must find our way to be of service of the movement here. And despite whatever fears that I may have had, or whatever concerns for my own safety, I knew that risk is relative. That what I would be exposed to, in my first short visit, would be nothing, compared to the risks inherent in daily life for migrants here.
I understood that the concern that I had for my own safety was, in some ways, a concern with losing my own protective distance from these issues. I came, feeling much and knowing little. And since that time, three years ago, Arizona has gone from obscurity to infamy. And with it, more and more people have come to speak about, and sometimes for, the people here.
But there is no voice more important for us to listen to than for the voice of the people at the center of Arizona's cauldron, people who are directly impacted by the policies we've learned about this week and will confront later this evening. There is no greater expert on immigration policy than the person who has been arrested and processed through detention—people like Fernando.
There is no greater leader than those who have bore the brunt of what this state has done and have refused to leave, who have conquered fear, and who have set a new example for what it means to work toward justice—people like Viridiana. And there is no greater example than the people who have taken this struggle to all corners of this country, from Arizona to Georgia—people like Adelina. I am grateful to all of them, for their work. And I am greatly honored to introduce them to you tonight.
Personal Testimonial: Fernando Lopez
FERNANDO LOPEZ: [SPEAKING SPANISH]
FERNANDO LOPEZ: First, I want to thank all of you for the opportunity of the letting me be here today. People come here under different circumstances. I came as a teenager, wanting to reunite with my brother, who I hadn't seen in eight years. But year and a half after I got here, he left, back to Mexico, when they passed SB 1070 two years ago. Once I saw the suffering my community was going through, I decided to get involved. A friend called and invited me to collect water for the group, No More Deaths, who help out there, in the desert.
When the movement against SB 1070 started, I met Puente, and I got involved in the marches. But a year ago, I was pulled over in a routine traffic stop. Because I'm undocumented, I was detained in an immigration detention center. Because I don't have family here, they gave me an initial bail, which was set at $10,500, which I think was too much. Don't you think so?
FERNANDO LOPEZ: The only way I got out was through the community that I'm part of. They collected money, wrote letters, and they got a lawyer and got me released. But I still faced the deportation process. I have to return to court next April. So next time you meet for your General Assembly, I might not be here.
But this problem goes beyond me. What I'm going through is what our community goes through every day. I was lucky, because I'm part of an organization, which is Puente, that has been working to get Arpaio out to shut down tent city.
FERNANDO LOPEZ: Thank you. After my experience, and see what I see every day, as someone who went through the process, and having inspiring people always around me, I'm ready to shut down tent city.
FERNANDO LOPEZ: The only question, tonight, is if all of you are with me.
FERNANDO LOPEZ: Thank you.
To be live captioned.
Personal Testimonial: Viridiana Hernandez
VIRIDIANA HERNANDEZ: Hi. My name is Viridiana Hernandez. And I'm also an undocumented student. I was brought to Arizona when I was one-year-old. And recently turned 21. On March 20, 2012, me, along with five other students, decided to be part of a civil disobedience action. An action that led up to us being arrested and face Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
The reason we decided to do that, actually, was because we were tired. We challenged Arpaio, because he always goes to our communities and makes us live in fear. I have been conditioned to live in fear, in my own community, conditioned to be afraid of the police, to be afraid of our law enforcement and people who are supposed to protect us.
The first time that I decided to become involved was after the passage of SB 1070. When my mom took me to school that day, to my night class, and she said, I'll be back for you. But I didn't know if she was going to be back. And a lot of me doubted that she would, because I was unsure what this signage of the law meant. Because I was a student who didn't know what her options were.
Two years later, when I decided to do that action and be arrested, it was for a lot more than myself in a lot more than my family. It was for our community, that has been conditioned to live in fear. And when we decided to become arrested, it took them three hours to arrest us—or more, four hours—because they were afraid of us. They were afraid of a group of people who were finally ready to stand up.
VIRIDIANA HERNANDEZ: And seeing our community come together that day kept those students—the six of us that were there, sitting and waiting to be arrested—the courage to continue with this action. Nothing could've prepared as, though, for what we were going to be waiting for in that jail.
I had to wait a long time, finally, until they took me into the jail, because I did not want to give my parents' information, when I was asked by nice agent. And so they sat me down and told me that, regardless of whether I wanted to give it to them, I had to. I told them I wouldn't, and so they sat me down. And I waited about two hours, until finally, they saw that I wasn't going to give it to them. And they kept the process. And then, once I was in jail—thank you.
VIRIDIANA HERNANDEZ: Once I was in the cell, with the other two members—throughout the whole process, we went to two different jails to get processed, before we arrived at the Fourth Avenue Jail. Throughout that, we were the only women in there, the only women being transferred from jail to jail. We were the only women being processed throughout the whole time. And I started crying, because I felt myself afraid.
But I wasn't afraid of what was going to happen to me. I wasn't afraid of what was happening. I was crying, because I could imagine my mom being in that same position—a strong woman who knows minimal English, who knows her rights. But at that moment, you completely forget what's happening. You forget what you're trying to say and what you shouldn't say. And that's what I was thinking about the whole time.
When I got to cell, it was cold. It was a cold that I had never experienced before. My bones were aching. They refused to give us a blanket, because they said we messed with the wrong people. They refused to give us food, because we wasn't until 6:00 AM in the morning. And when they brought the food, they threw it into our cell, like you would feed animals. And it was through a hole in the side. And all I could see was all I could see through a little window from the cell.
And even then, when we were afraid and we want to just call it. We wanted it to just say, we're done. We can't do this. I'm sorry. I didn't want to get arrested. There was a lot of times that I actually felt like that. But we also had to remember that even in that jail, even at that moment, we were still privileged, because the cameras were on. The cameras were on for us. But there's thousands of people who are in there. And there are thousands of people who are still in there, where the cameras are not on for them. No one is looking.
And now I'm out. But I still remember that there's thousands of people in there. And so, that's what we're going to go do now. We're going to go and shut down tent city. But at same time, this year, we're going to get Arpaio out of office.
VIRIDIANA HERNANDEZ: Thank you.
B. LOEWE: Good job.
Personal Testimonial: Adelina Nicholls
Director of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights
ADELINA NICHOLLS: [SPEAKING SPANISH] Very good. Good afternoon.
ADELINA NICHOLLS: My name is Adelina Nichols. I am the director of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights. And asking me why am I, someone from Georgia, on this stage in this incredible and very, very hot city? Because, as we speak, right now, there are people from the town of Fayetteville who are carrying video cameras and clipboards 30 feet away from flashing lights—checkpoints that the police set up to intimidate us and keep us locked in our homes, have now made those fed up.
The example of Arizona has helped us to lose our fear. At the same time, it has brought us hope. In Fayetteville, Tifton, Fitzgerald, and Lake Park, in small towns across the state, members of our popular committees are monitoring the police, instead of running from them.
ADELINA NICHOLLS: What has gone on for so long, under the radar, is now being confronted. While confronting may be scary, it is part of our system by now. It is part of our daily lives. When humble people find the power, they're victory is unstoppable. We are turning the tide.
ADELINA NICHOLLS: We do not call that ourselves of the Arizona of the southeast. Alabama probably took that title already. But we may be, very well, the Maricopa County of the south. Because of the president's own policies, police, in Georgia, have been turned into their own version of Arpaio. And so, we have created our own version of barrio defense.
ADELINA NICHOLLS: Today, we march on tent city. And I will be marching for Ricardo, for Thomas, for Lupe, for all our brothers and sisters that cannot travel today, because their country refuses to grant them a legal status. Even though, they still extend their solidarity with you, tonight, with all the people in Arizona. Arizona, we are with you. We will not fail in our support. And we want to let you know that we too are giving our all.
Our state has passed [INAUDIBLE] of the SB 1070, and we are fighting that. But we know, as you do, what state bills have done is only make normal a hate that was already happening all over the United States. And we will not the stop. And we will not stop--
ADELINA NICHOLLS: Andwe will not stop until Secure Communities is ended. We will not stop until police have no immigration powers. And we will not stop until our families wake up knowing they will be together again, at the end of the day. We will not stop.
ADELINA NICHOLLS: From Georgia to Arizona, all that work hard in the struggle. From Phoenix to Atlanta, to the victory. [SPEAKING SPANISH]
Why We Witness in AZ
CARLOS GARCIA: Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Carlos Garcia. I'm an organizer with Puente. How many of you all have been hot this weekend, this week?
CARLOS GARCIA: Pretty much all of you, right? Well, tonight we're going to go to a place called Tent City. Tent City has existed for over 20 years now. For 20 years, people have endured this heat, this cruelty. This week we have heard of the doctrine of discovery, colonization, 1070, Arpaio, and a lot of other horrible things that have happened to our communities here, in Arizona.
When we talk about these things, we are talking about Tent City, what we will face today—a place Sheriff Arpaio calls his own concentration camp, a model of cruelty, inhumanity, and punishment, that has no place in this world. Tonight we refuse to let that continue. We affirm the dignity of every person, no matter where they are from.
CARLOS GARCIA: When our t-shirts, when we say, arrest Arpaio, we're not talking about the man, we're calling to arrest an entire system of inhumanity.
CARLOS GARCIA: I grew up in this state undocumented. I was privileged enough to be adopted as a teenager. But six members of my family have been deported. This reality that Fernando lived, that Viridiana lives, that people all over the country live, is embodied by Tent City, what we will face and what we will shut down tonight. We are more powerful than our adversaries, because, as it says, on your shirts, love always beats hate.
CARLOS GARCIA: Let's move forward together. Let's close Tent City. Let's remember that no human is illegal. Thank you.
REV. KELLIE WALKER: [SINGING]
Lee Marie Sanchez, serving the Sepulveda UU Fellowship
LEE MARIE SANCHEZ: Will you pray with me? Spirit of life, spirit of love, God of our beating hearts, together as one. As each of us breathes in and breathes out, let us offer our deep gratitude for these amazing days, which we have spent together, in worship and witnessing, singing and dancing, learning and doing. Our lives have been changed forevermore.
Challenged, as we have been, tired, as we sometimes have been, overwhelmed by all we have seen and heard and experienced, we know that many of our experiences, here, were in the safe and cool environment of this convention center, in restaurants and hotels, but not so for all of us here. Not so for our friends, our neighbors, for us, who suffer every day in fear for the safety of our own lives and that of our children and families. Not so for those confined in detention centers and jails here, and across this nation in unfair, unacceptable, and inhumane conditions.
We have the opportunity, this evening, to stand on the side of love together and with those who need to hear and to see our love and support. We have the opportunity to witness to the world, from our convictions as Unitarian Universalists, as people of all faiths, in solidarity together who seek justice and mercy and peace for all people. Let us take this opportunity and be glad for it. May we be blessed and a blessing, as we go forth together. Amen, [SPEAKING SPANISH], and blessed be.
REV. CRAIG ROSHAVEN: As we leave, let us be strengthened by our vision of a community that includes all and a commitment to enact that vision through acts of justice and compassion.
CARLOS GARCIA: May we be emboldened by the importance of our witness.
REV. CRAIG ROSHAVEN: May we be comforted by our faith, that though the moral arc of the universe is, indeed long, it does bend towards justice. Amen.
Logistics and Closing Words
GINI COURTER: Our time has come. We are witnessing, with the goal of putting Maricopa County Sheriff's Office under receivership. to seeing to the closing of Tent City, and the cutting off the all Ice Powers for Maricopa County. Further, we are calling for the end of the Federal Secure Communities Mass Detention and Deportation Ice Program. Unitarian Universalists and others, around the country, are joining us, today, at Actions and in calling the White House.
We have a few folks leaving the hall. I would ask the rest of you, please, to stay. Because we have a strategy for how everyone will get to the witness best. Does that make sense? So just stay where you are. Trust me. We've been OK so far.
All who are going to candlelight vigil, at Tent City, will exit the hall and go to the street level on Third Avenue, where buses and vans are waiting for us. The rest of us will go to Room 120D on street level. And we're going to do this in sections. I'd like to ask the folks who are the spiritual leaders for the first wave of buses to leave the hall now, and head over there. If that's not you, just stay where you are.
These folks will be working with you on the buses. And so they're going to go to the exit. And we're going to let them get there first. Just head on, and get—Yay. Thank you for doing this, all of you.
GINI COURTER: There are two rounds of buses leaving tonight. So we're going to release folks, again, in sections. So, the first section is the groups that will exit the hall. We're going to be singing "Keep on Moving Forward." Pat and Sandy will be back with us, Emma's Revolution. That's all good.
So as soon as those folks get to the door, so we are clear who we are following. Where are our leaders down to the buses. Make some noise.
GINI COURTER: They're walking, walking, walking.
SPEAKER 1: Make sure you say Third Street, not Third Avenue.
GINI COURTER: OK. So we're going to Third Street. And we have our folks, right now. So what I'd like to do, if you're in the back of the hall, I want you to stay in your seats please. I want to release folks in the front of the hall to go to the exit doors. OK. Pick up your things. There's no rush here.
If you are using a wheelchair or scooter, or have difficulty with stairs, and you were in the front of the hall, go ahead and leave with this group. Proceed to the elevators, and when you reach the first floor, you will be escorted to accessible vans. We're going to go ahead and start some music, so that we have some music to recess to. And I'll let you know when the folks who are now seated can leave. Make sense?
Let's welcome back Emma's Revolution.
PAT HUMPHRIES: This time in English.
[MUSIC - EMMA'S REVOLUTION, "KEEP ON MOVING FORWARD"]
Postlude: "keep on moving forward"
Gonna keep on moving forward
Keep on moving forward
Keep on moving forward
Never turning back
Never turning back
Gonna keep on moving proudly
Gonna keep on singing loudly
Gonna keep on loving boldly
Gonna reach across our borders
Gonna end the occupations
Gonna stop these wars together
Gonna keep on moving forward
©1984 Pat Humphries Moving Forward Music, BMI, emma's revolution
GINI COURTER: Thank you, Emma's Revolution. The next group of folks who we're going to have leave is Youth Caucus and their sponsors. They're on the far side of the hall here. And we're going to let them walk right past us. Now, here's the trick. If when you get down there, the first wave of buses have left, just go ahead, and roll into 120D, because we're moving the music to there. Does that make sense? And then, you'll be at the start of the second round of buses. Are we clear? So let's let the Youth Caucus leave. Youth Caucus, make some loving noise as you go.
GINI COURTER: On your buses, you're going to hear about the non-violence agreement that you saw on the screen, at the beginning of the service. You'll also have an opportunity to talk and sing and pray together. Please remember, we are going to a vigil. It's a protest, but it's still a vigil. Each one of us is a representative of our faith, there at Tent City.
GINI COURTER: Again, if there is not room for you on the first wave of buses, simply go to room 120D. I want to make sure that we have all of Youth Caucus going. Keep going, y'all, at the end. And as soon as the Youth Caucus has passed where you are sitting, go ahead, and fall in behind them, out the door. We will see you either at Tent City or in the solidarity vigil here, in room 120D.
[MUSIC - EMMA's REVOLUTION, "KEEP ON MOVING FORWARD"]
©1984 Pat Humphries Moving Forward Music, BMI, emma's revolution