Bazta Arpaio, the grassroots coalition that helped kick Sheriff Joe out of office after 23 years, has earned another victory. The group was selected from organizations across the nation to win the Maclovio Barraza Award for Leadership at the 2017 National Council for La Raza (NCLR) Conference on July 10.
“This coalition kept the pressure on Sheriff Arpaio and demanded he either change his practices or get out of office,” announced Renata Soto, chair of the NCLR Board of Directors. “When Arpaio persisted with his fear-mongering tactics, Bazta Arpaio took to streets to protest, led walk-outs and rallies, engaged with the community via social media, and ran a hard-hitting get out the vote campaign in Maricopa County… They were determined to be the change they wanted to see in their community.”
Bazta Arpaio – a blend of basta, or “enough,” with the AZ of Arizona – combined the forces of numerous groups including the Center for Neighborhood Leadership, LUCHA, and Puente. The coalition of volunteers knocked on thousands of doors and made thousands of calls, mobilizing Latinos and new voters to head to the election polls.
“This campaign was led by previously deported moms, by undocumented families, by young people of color, by queer folks, by workers, and I’d like to take a pause to thank them, who should all be here,” said Viridiana Hernandez, executive director of Center for Neighborhood Leadership, in her acceptance speech.
“Many called us crazy when we decided to take [Arpaio] on one more time,” Hernandez said. “To us, that was not at all crazy. It was not a choice. This was part of our continuous fight for survival.”
The Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund proudly supported the Bazta Arpaio campaign, as well as its composite organizations, including the Center for Neighborhood Leadership, LUCHA and Puente.
“Michael Lacey and I are very honored to have been able to assist the Bazta Arpaio team,” said Jim Larkin, co-founder of the Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund. “We thank everyone for their efforts to bring this dark chapter of Arizona’s history to a close.”
The Frontera Fund also supports Promise Arizona (PAZ), whose executive director, Petra Falcon, was honored by the NCLR with an affiliate award for advocacy and by the Mexican Consulate with the Ohtli Award. PAZ was instrumental in the years-long campaign against Arpaio.
But though the fight to oust Arpaio was won, there are many more battles ahead, noted Hernandez: “On November 8, America woke up in Arizona. The culture that Arpaio built and that Trump seeks to build continues to be alive in both our county and our police departments.”
In her final message, Hernandez evoked the new name adopted by the National Council for La Raza – UnidosUS. The name change, announced at the conference, is meant to show unity among Latino and other communities.
“This is the time to be truly unidos,” she said, “to support the people on the ground that continue to fight for our survival, to support grassroots organizations, to support multiple tactics, to embrace the beauty of our diverse and intersectional identities. It is a time of solidarity, and there is room for everyone. This win was only possible due to the resiliency and never-ending fighting spirit of the people that have been most impacted and most hurt by all these injustices.”
“We’re asking you to act,” Hernandez concluded, to a standing ovation. “To join us in saying Bazta Arpaio. Bazta Trump. Bazta the racism, the sexism. Bazta the homophobia. Bazta the hypocricy. Bazta the collaboration with ICE. And Bazta separating our families.”