Fuerza Coalition Takes on DeConcini

By:  Matthew Johnson

December 13th, 2012

The Fuerza! Coalition in Tucson, Arizona organized a week of action last week to urge former Democratic Senator Dennis DeConcini to resign from the Board of Directors of the nation’s largest private prison company, the Corrections Corporation of America. The community coalition, composed of migrant justice, faith and student organizers, is working to raise public consciousness around the prison industry’s attacks on (im)migrant communities and hold accountable local leaders involved in the industry’s profiteering on incarceration and criminalization.

On Monday, students awoke to find the University of Arizona campus had been plastered with posters encouraging them to “Facebook Dennis.” The Facebook page, a satirical profile highlighting the Senator’s connections to CCA, quickly garnered hundreds of friends, many of whom wrote to DeConcini encouraging him to resign from CCA

On Tuesday, a flash mob on the U of A campus called attention to the campaign and informed students of the demand that DeConcini end his affiliation with CCA.

On Wednesday, a banner was hung from the student union on the University of Arizona campus calling on DeConcini to stop making money by incarcerating Tucson families.

On Thursday morning, the Arizona Board of Regents met on the U of A campus. Although DeConcini is an Arizona Regent, he and fellow CCA Board member Anne Mariucci failed to attend the meeting, presumably in anticipation of student and community protest. As the meeting began, American Friends Service Committee representative Matt Lowen spoke during the public comments section, calling on DeConcini to resign his post and stand on the correct side of history. As the meeting proceeded, several students interrupted with calls for DeConcini’s resignation before approximately half of the audience began chanting “CCA – GO AWAY!” before being escorted from the meeting room by police.

That afternoon, about 50 students and community members gathered on the U of A mall to continue the demonstration of community opposition to prison industry profiteering. After several speakers discussed CCA’s negative effects on immigrant communities and their own experiences in immigration detention, the crowd marched through the student union to the room where the Regents had recessed for a private luncheon and “executive session.” Although blocked from entering the meeting by police and university administrators, the demonstrators made their voices heard loud and clear before leaving.

While the community waits to see if DeConcini has gotten the message that his membership on the CCA Board aligns with oppression and against immigrant families, the week of action was a success in raising the profile of the campaign and advancing the struggle against prison industry profiteering and attacks on immigrant communities.

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