Local activist’s new book documents recall efforts of Russell Pearce, aftermath of SB 1070

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 It has been over a decade since the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, or Arizona SB 1070, was passed. This led to a fierce legal and civil rights battle, resulting in a recall vote and the ousting of Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce. Talking about how the recall efforts was fought is Randy Parraz, community activist and author of the book “Dignity by Fire: Dismantling Arizona’s Anti-Immigration Machine.”

What motivated you to write the book?

Parraz described how he was called to join the fight as he watched the passing of SB 1070, as well as Pearce’s rise to power. “I could not sit back and live in Scottsdale and not get involved on an issue where this person is now setting an agenda for the whole state,” he said.

“There’s noting wrong with being conservative, but there’s something beyond being conservative that’s more extreme, that’s what Russell Pearce was at. That’s what really got me to the point of ‘what’s my threshold for injustice?’”

What techniques did you use to bring down Pearce that we could use today to fight off extremist legislation like SB 1070?

The big thing to focus on, according to Parraz, is engagement. When his group began knocking on door in Pearce’s district, they found that the majority of residents they talked to had no idea who Russell Pearce was.

“People need to realize today that a lot of the politics does not penetrate down to the local level,” Parraz said.

“All we did was put together different recipes using some of the same ingredients out there, and just mixed it up differently, and we were able to bring together a coalition of people to process their pain and anger, and do it publicly.”

How can the community in Arizona and beyond prevent this from happening again?

Parraz said citizens “have to be willing to come together, form a committee, put money into it, and start moving forward and engage,” and not just through voting.

“We’re talking about a process that may have you putting in hours, walking, talking, doing other things. That’s the solution, is having citizens who are engaged and aren’t going to sit back quietly and allow extreme politicians to come forward and push an agenda that’s illegal, unconstitutional, and is racist, and that targets parts of our community, people who are part of the social fabric of Arizona. We cannot stay quiet when those types of politicians get elected.”

Randy Parraz, activist, author

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