My name is Lucia Sandoval, and I am a member of Puente Human Rights Movement, a long-standing grassroots organization that campaigns to bring attention to the realities of policing and surveillance that harm us every day in the borderlands of Arizona. Last year, when we learned the annual National Homeland Security Conference (NHSC) would be hosted by the City of Phoenix in 2019 we knew we had to do something. So, this past June we connected with War Resisters League to co-organize an action in opposition to the NHSC.
I’m writing to you today because WRL has raised $8,375 so far this December, but they need your help to hit their goal of $30,000. Can you make sure WRL can keep showing up for frontline groups like Puente by giving today?
Phoenix is already a heavily policed and militarized city. The very same month the conference took place, a police officer held a Black family at gunpoint and threatened to shoot them after their 4-year-old daughter walked out of a store with a doll.
Meanwhile, at the NHSC conference representatives from federal agencies like ICE, Border Patrol, and Counterrorism were preparing to come together to share their ideas for policing and surveilling Black and brown communities. Attendees go to panels where they share tactics and suggestions for equipment, which often includes live demonstrations of weapons. The NHSC is the largest gathering of Homeland Security professionals anywhere in the country.
Had we not taken action at the NHSC with War Resisters League, the conference would have gone uninterrupted. Together - with WRL, Puente members and No More Deaths volunteers from Flagstaff - we built coffins and a memorial altar, as well as a cage with mannequins wrapped with mylar blankets inside. We transported our installation to the entrance of the NHSC networking social, interrupted people who were going inside, and engaged with people passing by about why we must take action against DHS. Throughout the week, WRL helped develop the action logistics and the social media toolkit we used.
After the demonstration, Yuni Chang from WRL held a powermapping & organizing roleplay workshop for Puente youth running the Cops Outta Campus campaign, where participants practiced holding conversations with young people and community members about policing.
WRL is one of the few organizations that shows up for direct action and offers training and skill-building that makes our movements stronger. Because it’s not just about ICE or police on their own - it's about the whole system. Can you give today to support WRL’s work addressing the root causes of militarism?