Greetings, dear reader. It has been 103 days since our protests and arrests in Phoenix on July 29th—the same number of days that the people of Phoenix held vigil on the capitol steps between the date SB1070 was signed into law and July 29th when it went into effect. Many people have asked me for news about what’s going on with the legal ramifications of our actions. I’m sure you can understand my frustration as I report to you again: we don’t know.
If you recall my posts back in July, I was overwhelmed by the love and courage that people displayed during the time I was in Phoenix. There were those with whom I risked arrest, but there were also those in jail with us who had not chosen to be there. There were hundreds of wonderful people who supported us from the sidewalks and from outside the jail, and then there were people all around the country who watched from their homes and held Arizona’s struggle in their hearts. It reminded me that just as it requires strength and courage to take a leap of faith and go haring off across the country, sometimes it takes just as much to stay home and watch from afar as others do the physical work one’s heart longs to do.
In the past three and a half months since I walked out of the 4th Avenue Jail, I have watched my companions’ love and courage be tested over and over. First, and in an odd way perhaps the hardest, we had to walk away from each other as we were released from jail to return to our lives. Then, some of us returned home over hundreds of miles (in my case, about 1800 miles). Yet I have witnessed such dedication and compassion in the intervening weeks since Phoenix physically disappeared behind me.
Just as the vigilers sat on the steps of the Arizona capitol building, we too have been holding our private vigils in our hearts since we were released from jail on our own recognizance. While the original vigilers bore the physical toll of waiting on the steps for 103 days, we have not had a physical place to gather, to remind ourselves that the struggle is not over.
Yet in spite of the challenge of separation, in spite of the physical and emotional distance from the events of July 29th, and in spite of the time that has elapsed and begun to heal us however much we might wish those particular wounds remained fresh and raw to remind us of our commitment to justice, in the face of all those challenges, our love and courage has not failed.
Some have pled “guilty” or “no contest,” yet there was love and courage and compassion in that choice. Others have chosen to plead “not guilty” and go to trial, and they have dedicated themselves to a long and uncertain road, fueled by the fire of commitment and a passion that will be necessary to get them through the times ahead. Even those who chose to not go to trial themselves are still waiting in the dark with our brothers and sisters who embarked on that path. Our hearts beat together with the pulse of justice, even as our feet lead us in different directions.
I received notice today that there have been a few complications that our legal council has been trying to take care of down in Phoenix. It raises some new questions for those of us who are still awaiting word of when we will be required to appear before a judge. Once again, we will be asked to choose.
Again and again, we all stand at a crossroads, and we will make each choice with the knowledge we have at the time. That is ever the way of things. We choose, and then again we choose, and through these choices we determine what path we will follow. Our comfort is in knowing that no matter how dark the road appears to be, no matter how uncertain our footsteps, no matter the secret fears we hold in our hearts, we know that we do not walk alone.