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Arizona's Shock Doctrine': Progressives Use Singing, Costumed Little Kids to Protest Immigration Bills


"This little light of mine...."

Young children dressed in doctors' coats, hard hats and police uniforms posed as political props Wednesday as progressive groups protested proposed immigration legislation at the Arizona Capitol.

The Repeal Coalition, an organization known for its work advocating the repeal of SB 1070, the state's controversial illegal immigration crackdown law, led the protest. Cassandra Brown, a community organizer for the group, told State Press that the kids' costumes were meant to symbolize how the bills would harm the future of the state's children.

“We want to wedge a space in the immigration debate for youth so they can stand up to the hateful legislation that affects them and their families,” Belson said.

"What do we want?" a young girl chanted into a megaphone held to her mouth by Belson as the crowd responded, "Freedom!"  The children participated in a "sit-in" and reportedly sang songs, including "This Little Light of Mine."

(Image: Yvonne Gonzalez, State Press)

Jeff Biggers, a liberal blogger for Alternet, praised the unorthodox protest Thursday. "Call it Arizona's Shock Doctrine. And the children are the shock troops," he wrote. "On the heels of an unforgiving year of outrageous state rebellion, children in Arizona have had to create their own book of humanity -- if only to defend their state's diverse heritage and basic human rights."

The liberal group was also hailed for fighting what Arizona Republic columnist E.J. Montini called a legislative "war on children."

Among other bills being considered by the state legislature, the Repeal Coalition protested SB 1611, a bill that would require parents or guardians to provide proof of U.S. citizenship or legal residency to enroll a child in public school. The bill would also require proof of citizenship for students applying to attend a community college or university.

"We want the Arizona State Legislature to see face-to-face whose future they are damaging with these hateful laws," the group said in its event announcement.  "Please mobilize the youth in your communities to attend this important event! Ask them to dress up in a costume of what they would like to do when they grow up to show the Legislature that their laws will destroy Arizona's future."

(Image: Yvonne Gonzalez, State Press)

Maria Amaral’s two uncles were deported two weeks ago and the 13-year-old middle school student said she traveled from Flagstaff with other youngsters to protest the bills' potential impacts on families. “I want to do something that is good for the cause,” she said. “I don’t want to lose more of my family than I already have.”

Professor Gerald Wood attended the protest against SB 1611 because it would deny many illegal residents access to college. “These laws make it really hard and cut off all avenues for people to better themselves,” Wood said. “It’s important for young people to come to these types of protests because they can see other people fighting and feel empowered to say what is happening to them.”

Nine-year-old Malcolm Olson spoke to the crowd about his plans to become a baseball player one day, but admitted he was afraid many of his classmates would be deported. “My friends are endangered and threatened and I don’t want them to go to Mexico and live on the streets,” he said. “I want them to stay here and have a good education.”

On Thursday, the Arizona Senate voted down the measures, but many legislators are predicting the battle over immigration law will continue.

"These bills will be back again next year," one state senator predicted.

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