Jan Brewer's Scorpion Lies, Part I
See any "screaming kids" chained to the state Capitol?
Obviously, there's limited room in New Times' print edition to attack all the lies, myths, falsehoods, and half-truths promulgated by Governor Jan Brewer in her ghost-written memoir Scorpions for Breakfast. So there was no way for me to catalog and rebut them all in my recent column on the governor's book.
Therefore, in the interest of shoving some truth into the geriatric, withered mug of Arizona's chief executive, I'm inaugurating a new series called "Brewer's Lies," which will go through Brewer's recent book, debunking all of the prevarications therein. Believe me, it's no small task.
The first lie I wish to tackle, I found to be one of the most offensive. This regards a group of nine students who on April 20, 2010 chained themselves to the Arizona Capitol in a desperate attempt to move Brewer to veto the recently passed Senate Bill 1070, otherwise known as Sand Land's "breathing while brown" statute.
At the time, Brewer was playing coy, letting the public believe that she hadn't decided on whether or not to sign 1070. In fact, she had already made her mind up. Indeed, despite the fact that the bill was the baby of now-disgraced ex-state Senate President Russell Pearce, Brewer makes it seem as if the bill had sprung whole from the vacant space between her ears.
This, too, is a lie. But for right now, let's focus on that group of students called the Capitol Nine. Here is what Brewer had to say about their act of civil disobedience, one which garnered nationwide press.
At one point, nine students chained themselves to the building, yelling, "Today we are chained to the Capitol, just like our community is chained by this legislation." How exactly their community was being "chained" was left unsaid. Capitol police were forced to cut through the chains and forcibly remove the screaming kids. (pg. 113-14)
I'm in a unique position to judge Brewer's ill-informed description because I was present at the Capitol and witnessed the entire protest.
The Capitol Nine did not speak while they were chained to the Old Capitol Building, much less yell or scream. Indeed, they were completely silent, unless you count the one or two who could be seen silently praying.
You can witness this for yourself in the video above by local videographer Dennis Gilman. The Capitol Nine even refused to answer questions from the media.
As they were cut loose by bolt cutters and placed in handcuffs, they maintained their stoicism. Inside the building, after these college-age men and women were confined to a room until a sheriff's bus came to pick them up, they finally broke silence, singing the anthem of the 1960's Civil Rights Movement, "We Shall Overcome."
Later, as they were brought out the back way, and placed on a bus headed for Sheriff Joe Arpaio's notorious Fourth Avenue Jail, some continued singing while others chanted "Veto the Bill."
But neither Brewer, nor her ghostwriter, are addressing the singing or chanting that occurred after the demonstrators were arrested.
Instead, they are attempting to portray the Capitol Nine as ill-behaved, out-of control children. In reality, these men and women were dignified, brave, and sincere. They faced disorderly conduct charges and were not released from jail until late that evening.
Eventually, interim Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley dropped all charges against the protesters, but these young activists, many of them college students, could not have anticipated Romley's action at the time.
The quote Brewer abuses above is taken from the statements of individuals communicating through bullhorns on behalf of the silent nine.
Brewer mocks the metaphor of Latino community being "chained" by 1070, but the reality is that 1070 was aimed at the undocumented, who are mostly Latino. That means those suspected of being undocumented, those being detained by local law enforcement under the provisions of the law, would of course be non-Anglo.
The legislation is racist, and Brewer is an opportunistic bigot for signing it.
Thankfully, the statute has mostly been enjoined by the federal courts, and the measure itself is headed for the dustbin of history. It will be remembered as a last-ditch effort by nativists at keeping down the brown.
If the governor wants to hang her legacy on this rotten, worm-eaten peg, she's welcome to. But I'm not going to let her get away with lying about those who gallantly defied the ugliness she so readily embraces.