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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Rise Against returns to Arizona with break of SB1070 boycott

    Courtesy of UMGD

    When Rise Against took the stage at Flagstaff’s Orpheum Theater on Thursday night, it was its first Arizona show in more than two years.

    Since the proposal of the controversial Senate Bill 1070, the Chicago punk band, along with dozens of other musicians, comedians and performers, joined the Sound Strike movement to boycott the state in the name of civil rights.

    “When SB 1070 was passed in Arizona … we saw discrimination being legitimized in a state that we play a lot of shows in,” said Tim McIlrath, the band’s lead singer. “Discrimination that this country fought so hard to eliminate from our federal laws.”

    The band returned to Arizona this week with a “boots on the ground” mentality, in an effort to spread awareness about the bill to people living in the state, McIlrath added. The show in Flagstaff featured a benefit concert, where 100 percent of the proceeds went to the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, a non-profit organization that provides free legal services to undocumented immigrants.

    Lindsay Marshall, the Florence Project’s executive director, said that because the organization isn’t an advocacy group, it couldn’t take an official point of view on the bill, but said that it does impact the people the project serves.

    Despite avoiding the state during concert tours for the past several years, Rise Against is no stranger to Arizona or its civil rights organizations. McIlrath said that following the bill’s proposal he made trips to Southern Arizona and watched undocumented immigrants get deported in Tucson’s courthouse.

    “I felt an obligation to really know what was going on,” he said. “How much was I going to really gather from sitting at my house in Chicago? I wanted to really figure out what was happening down there and I learned a lot from being there on the ground.”

    Additionally, the band has shown support for the Coalición de Derechos Humanos, or Human Rights Coalition, a human rights advocacy group based in Tucson. Rise Against had met with the organization several years ago after the bill’s proposal, inviting the group to run a table at a show in Los Angeles.

    Not surprisingly, the support runs both ways, said Isabel García, the organization’s co-chair.
    With the band’s boycott of Arizona now over for the foreseeable future, there are varying opinions on whether the protest was effective. While McIlrath said he knew that the “world wouldn’t come grinding to a halt” if Rise Against avoided the state, he added that there were some indications of the impact the band’s protest made.

    “A lot of people felt like there were some really important victories that were happening with SB 1070,” he said. “Some of the most controversial parts of the law were struck down, the state of Arizona was reacting to the people and the elected officials that had designed the law, and they were voting them out of office.”

    But not everyone is under the impression that the boycott accomplished anything. Daniel Arellano, a second-year juris doctoral candidate at the James E. Rogers College of Law, agreed that several controversial portions of the bill were struck down, but not because of any economic pressure brought on by the strike.

    “Generally, that kind of pressure can work,” Arellano said. “In the case of Arizona and who our political leadership is — definitely not.”

    The Arizona fans who felt like they had been punished in the name of a political statement were also on the band’s radar, but the members felt that a bigger issue was at hand.

    “When it came down to it, we couldn’t compare a fan’s disappointment at not seeing a rock show with what was really happening to the families in Arizona that were being torn apart,” McIlrath added. “We wanted to keep playing Arizona, but we felt like there was something more at stake here.”

    While the fate of the law remains uncertain, one thing the band knows for sure is that they’re happy to be back in Arizona, a state that McIlrath said has one of the greatest Rise Against followings in the region.

    “We’ve had some really great shows in Arizona that have been the highlight of our tour,” he said. “We’re happy to be finally coming back.”

    Follow us on Twitter @wildcatarts and follow Kyle @KyleMittan.

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