Rage Against the Machine lead singer Zack de la Rocha has enlisted dozens of musicians and activists to join The Sound Strike, an open call by artists to boycott the state of Arizona over its recently passed immigration law. The law passed by the Arizona state legislature, SB1070, requires local authorities to determine a person's immigration status if he or she is suspected of being undocumented.
Groups like Cypress Hill, Juanes, Conor Oberst, Los Tigres del Norte, Rage Against the Machine, Cafe Tacvba, Kanye West, Calle 13 as well as Oscar winning filmmaker and activist Michael Moore have signed on to the campaign, which was announced on thesoundstrike.net today.
"Fans of our music, our stories, our films and our words can be pulled over and harassed every day because they are brown or black, or for the way they speak, or for the music they listen to," de la Rocha wrote in an open letter announcing the campaign. "People who are poor like some of us used to be could be forced to live in a constant state of fear while just doing what they can to find work and survive. This law opens the door for them to be shaked down, or even worse, detained and deported while just trying to travel home from school, from home to work, or when they just roll out with their friends."
The website calls for additional artists to sign on to the boycott of Arizona, and asks fans to sign an online petition calling for the law's repeal.
Other artists who have already joined The Sound Strike boycott include Joe Satriani, Serj Tankian, Rise Against, Ozomatli, Sabertooth Tiger, Massive Attack, One Day as a Lion, Street Sweeper Social Club, Spank Rock, Sonic Youth and Tenacious D.
Satriani, recalling his own Italian-American grandparents' brushes with persecution during World War II, says he was approached to join the boycott by Tom Morello and subsequently contacted de la Rocha. "It's a tough issue," he says, "because I understand, if you live down there in one of those border town, you feel like you're under siege. But I think more brain power has to go into the solution to this. SB1070 just doesn't have enough in it to make it a good law. In the last 15 years the erosion of rights of American citizens has put us close to a police state. We teeter back and forth; that's what you have to be vigilant about. You can't just jump on something like this and stop thinking about better ways to solve problems."
Satriani says one answer is for the federal government to become a more active part of the solution. "We have a federal immigration department; they should be the ones dealing with this," he notes. "The local police have enough problems to deal with, and making them into pseudo border guards is ridiculous."
The guitarist says he feels "terrible about the idea of boycotting Arizona. I have friends there. I have a lot of fans there." His band Chickenfoot, in fact, recently released a concert DVD filmed at the Dodge Theatre in Phoenix.
Already hip-hop acts Pitbull and Cypress Hill have canceled upcoming shows in Arizona to protest the law. Regional Mexican music acts Conjunto Primavera and Espinoza Paz have canceled their previously-announced Phoenix concerts, while their fellow Latin music stars Jenni Rivera and Wisin & Yandel will be skipping the state on their AEG Live-promoted summer tours.
"My personal belief is that the law, which is misguided and poorly written, is unconstitutional and will not survive the multiple legal challenges being filed," AEG Live president/CEO Randy Phillips says. "Until that time, however, the economic impact on the state from losing even a couple of tours might be enough for the legislature and the governor to realize that there is still a political concept called the tyranny of the majority which is just as dangerous to our democracy as illegal immigration, maybe more so."
(Additional reporting by Ayala Ben-Yahuda and Gary Graff)