Rage Against the Machine, Conor Oberst set gig to fight Arizona bill
Zack de la Rocha expects Rage Against the Machine's concert Friday (7/23) in Los Angeles to raise more than $300,000 that will fund the effort to fight the pending Arizona law immigration law SB 1070.
Rage Against the Machine will make its only North American appearance of 2010 on Friday at the Hollywood Palladium, sharing a bill with Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band. Tickets sold out within minutes of going on sale earlier this week.
The concert is being held after a federal court hears arguments regarding Arizona's SB 1070, a law that gives Arizona police the right to interrogate, arrest and order the deportation of citizens believed to be in the country illegally. The Justice Department and civil rights groups have submitted seven lawsuits that seek to block the law from taking effect on July 29.
The members of Rage Against the Machine have enlisted acts such as Kanye West, Maroon 5, Juanes and dozens of other musicians to join the group SoundStrike and commercially boycott Arizona until the law is off the books.
"How can we not unite with other artists?," de la Rocha asked rhetorically at a press conference Wednesday that included Rage guitarist Tom Morello, Oberst, UFW co-founder Dolores Huerta, Salvador Reza of Puente and SoundStrike's lead counsel, Chris Newman. "How could we not stand up for our fans in Arizona? How could we not do a show to raise money for people on the ground? Toxic ideas have led to a chain of events. This is not an immigration issue, it is a battle of basic human indignity."
De la Rocha and others cited a history of abuses against Hispanics in Arizona, especially among undocumented people. "There are many [sheriffs] across the country taking the idea that immigrants are the problem," he said after others noted a growing support for similar laws in other states.
Morello added, "We'll use our music to unite people to say 'no' to racial profiling."
If the law is blocked, de la Rocha said, "we want to continue to encourage our fans to unify. SB 1070 is very divisive. I want to keep encouraging the discussion. Conor is doing a benefit for the ACLU to overturn the Fremont law. We want to continue the dialog about immigration reform so it's done within a human rights framework. A lot of youth has not been brought into the dialogue."
Oberst spoke about the town of Fremont in his native Nebraska, which has a law scheduled to also go in effect on July 29 that would require people to provide the Fremont Police Department with information about their citizenship or immigration status prior to renting any home.
"If we don't say this is unacceptable," Oberst said, "we erode the soul of America."