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A Day Without Latinos and Immigrants

February 20, 2016

Joe-Brusky-2

photo by Joe Brusky

This past Thursday – February 18, 2016 – Wisconsin witnessed its largest demonstration at the State Capitol Building in Madison since 2011 and the demos against Walker and Act 10. Thursday’s demonstration – estimated at 40,000 to 50,000 – was also against Walker and the Republican-controlled legislature that continues its path of destruction over Wisconsin and its people. Tens of thousands of Latinos walked out of their places of work – closing down businesses and farms – to demonstrate in the state capitol. The demo was called in response to two proposed anti-immigrant bills – AB 450 and SB 533. These bills are akin to the Arizona SB 1070 bill in 2010 that was model legislation for xenophobia and hate. The Onewisconsinnow website writes about the Wisconsin bills:

“In 2011 Wisconsin’s Arizona copycat bill rightly was prevented from moving forward.

In 2016, some Wisconsin state legislators are advancing similar racist, anti-immigrant legislation that will make Wisconsin more hostile to the immigrant families who make such important contributions make to the cultural and economic life of our rural and urban communities.

AB 450 would lead police and public employees to investigate immigration status and detain undocumented people for deportation. SB 533 would block county elected officials throughout Wisconsin from issuing photo IDs for vulnerable residents in their communities who cannot access state ID because of immigration status or lack of required documents or money.

AB 450 is modeled after Arizona’s SB 1070 “show me your papers” law that ignited a national boycott of Arizona and was ultimately declared unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court. Wisconsin lawmakers supporting this Trump-inspired bill threaten to tar Wisconsin’s reputation and make us known internationally for racism, economic harm in local and state communities, and fear of law enforcement, as happened in Arizona. This bill will spread fear in immigrant communities and make undocumented people more afraid to report crimes, making everyone less safe.

In the Senate, SB 533 attacks undocumented immigrants, transgender people, the homeless, formerly incarcerated people, seniors, foster youth, and other marginalized communities that would benefit from local IDs because they are disproportionately unable to obtain state ID. Without government-issued ID, people cannot identify themselves to law enforcement when stopped or reporting crimes, cannot cash checks, open bank accounts, enter their children’s schools, take refuge in a homeless shelter, or take recycling to city recycling centers. Thousands of women and children victims of domestic abuse who cannot obtain state ID cannot file papers in court when seeking a restraining order or divorce from an abuser. With a local ID, vulnerable people could do all of these things.

These anti-immigrant, discriminatory bills will restrict local control and undermine public safety while attacking immigrant families who contribute so much to Wisconsin’s economy both on our farms and cities. These anti-immigrant bills are an effort to resuscitate the bankrupt AZ SB1070 laws and should be totally rejected.”

Some in Wisconsin knew about the proposed legislation and the demo. Others did not. This is where the importance of activist art and social media came into play. A week prior to the demo Christine Neumann-Ortiz, the Founding Executive Director of Voces de la Frontera, phoned me and asked if I would design a graphic that people could share on social media to get the word out about the demo and a bold image that supporters could use as their profile image on their facebook page. Christine asked if I could make an image with a butterfly representing migration issues and include the slogan “Wisconsin is Not Arizona.” My response to Christine: A butterfly image already exists. Let me text Favianna Rodriguez to see if we can use her image and I will get back to you in 5 minutes (since Favi typically responds at lightning speed.) Sure enough Favi got back to me in a flash and said yes, of course. (This by the way is the best thing about Justseeds: community, resource sharing, and tapping into a large network of activist artists across N. America and beyond.)

So that night I designed an English and Spanish text versions of a poster with Favi’s iconic butterfly image as the core image. My goal was to keep it simple. Let the image speak for itself and make sure it worked on social media as a profile thumbnail image. Here are the versions:

Wi-is-not-Az_ENG

Wi-is-not-AZ_ESP

Over the next few days prior to the demo I was seeing the image pop up everywhere on social media feeds which was the original goal of the design.

At the demo this past Thursday, the image was printed out and carried by some in the march:

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photo by Joe Brusky

Hand-painted banners of Favi’s butterfly were also present:

Joe-Brusky

photo by Joe Brusky

Susan-Ruggles

photo by Susan Ruggles

I find it incredibly inspiring that Favi’s graphic is such a force in the immigrant rights movement. The graphic and the message “Migration is Beautiful” communicates such a positive message and it has spread like wildfire – including Wisconsin – where the immigrant rights movement is strong. Graphics like this – and the mass mobilization that took place this past Thursday in Madison – become all the more necessary in 2016 as the Trumps and the Walkers of the world try to divide the public for their gains. Its up to us to fight back and reject them at every step of the way.

To learn more about the campaign in Wisconsin, see Voces de la Frontera

To learn more about Favi’s art, click here.

To see a ton of photos from the action, check out Joe Brusky’s (aka the “people’s photographer”) flickr page.

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