Five Songs and Artists Protesting Joe Arpaio's Racial Profiling
A federal judge ruled last month that Sheriff Joe Arpaio was using racial profiling against Hispanics in Maricopa County. Many Phoenicians didn't need a judge to tell them that, but now it's at least been acknowledged by someone who has the power to demand change.
On the heels of the decision came the end of a massive recall effort meant to challenge Arpaio's contested sixth term as sheriff of Maricopa County. Ultimately, the recall failed, but the saga of Phoenix and Arpaio is far from over. So, here's a list of artists who have come out in opposition of Senate Bill 1070, the infamous "papers please" legislation.
Conor Oberst, the lead singer of Bright Eyes, was one of the earliest supporters and strongest proponents of The Sound Strike, a collective of artists boycotting Arizona in opposition of SB 1070. The video for "Coyote" features Oberst playing the piano in the desert and walking parallel to the permanent border, calling out to his loved one who has "gone below the border": "I'm sending the coyote to bring you back to me."
A coyote (as well as being a mammal) is also a guide who brings migrants from Mexico into the U.S., and the reference to a dangerous facet of life on the border made Oberst's narrative the subject of a lot of contention. Like many Bright Eyes songs, "Coyote" has the signature folksy sound combined with Oberst's croaky voice that the band is recognized for, but the difference this time around is that he's singing about the border, rather than a Bowl of Oranges, or A Perfect Sonnet.