All evidence of the stunningly beautiful southwest –
muted browns and reds and oranges, rust – melts into hot flat gray sandy soil
with the occasional cacti or sparse and withered tree trunk here and there.
Rocks and cliffs and mesas – just gorgeous and majestic – are all but a memory
or a distant vague outline.
Maybe it is the abrupt looming presence of gray steel and
barbed wire that destroys the magic, definitely the beauty, of the desert. Maybe
it’s the knowledge that 150 people, human beings – womyn, children, men – have
died, been murdered, inside this cold gray ‘structure’ and others like it
around our country. Maybe it’s the fact that hundreds of thousands if not
hundreds of thousands of more human beings – womyn, children, men – have been
and are incarcerated in these buildings, awaiting ‘release’ through
deportation, back to face most likely violence and death from those they’ve
Bitterness swells in me as I remember the stories of my
childhood, the fighting tales of despair and determination, my family as
traumatized refugees, the horror and shame with disbelief for countries that
refused to provide shelter especially a country as this with so much land and
space and resources for refuge.
And here, we round up human beings – womyn, children, men
– as if they are mere tiresome pebbles from a rock slide and toss them into
pens, irregardless of where their children are, their family, their life;
discarded in a container with other pebbles to be – eventually, when the state
through our generous taxes has finished paying the private corporations a daily
fee of around $159 each for their containment – thrown over the 21 foot steel
and concrete wall, recently replaced and reinforced by bigger, taller, better
steel and concrete.
Eloy is one of the worst detention prisons with the
highest number of deaths.
The crowd here swells to close to a thousand, I’m sure. The
crowd is diverse and multilingual, elders well represented as are the youth. The
only people missing are the littlest children, the babies, toddlers, the below
10 crowd and I long for my daughter or at least my grandchild to be here. Black
people, indigenous people, brown people, white people are all here. The
communists, catholics, quakers, students, radicals, disabled, political proliferate
the dusty field. The rally is bilingual – I struggle to understand the Spanish before
it’s translated into English.
The dramatic sunset flaunts the pain or maybe reflects it
in the deep reds and bright purples, bruises and blood of so many dispossessed of
the basic rights of all humans by the mighty mighty u.s. military/police/border
Yet from the back of the truck plastered with colorful radio
station signs that provides the platform for the rally voices: the unfaltering words
and poignant tales of heroic tenacious actions of so many – formerly or not yet incarcerated, individuals and
organizations – who, working so very hard, have stood up and continue to stand
to fight for the incarcerated and desperate, and against the greedy and violent,
filter thru the grey and join us together weaving a deep healing and empowering
resolve as we light candles and proceed to march determinedly across the
highway onto the sidewalk, straining eagerly forward as far as we’re allowed to
‘legally’ advance, chanting, drumming, dancing – sending our singing wafting
with the warm desert winds across the dusty expanse patrolled by a lone white
pickup truck thru the 25 foot tall barbed wire to the swaying grey silhouettes framed
by tall, narrow windows, backlit by prison illumination.