Thursday, July 17, 2014

Oracle, AZ Immigration Protest(For Getty)

It was a normal Monday night, put the kids to bed, was surfing the net a bit and checking my email when I saw a story online about protesters heading up to Oracle, AZ to try and prevent a busload of illegal immigrant children from entering a facility outside of Tucson. I came out to the living room and my wife immediately knew "the look". You know, the one where you want to ask permission to go somewhere but know it'll be an inconvenience but know that person would be a total pill and nervous wreck if he didn't just go, kinda look.
I said babe, it's a good story and it's Arizona. That state never disappoints when it comes to getting good visuals. It's still got that crazed, wild West, outlaw mentality. I'd photographed the protesters in Murrieta the week before but knew this one would be bigger and probably more angry and have its own unique character.
So I hopped in the car around 11 pm with a full tank of gas and no one to shoot for. I emailed Getty while on the road and a few hours get a ping back that I was on for the assignment (thanks guys!!).
I finally get to the site in Oracle around 6 am and protesters and gob-loads of media started to show up shortly there-after. Oracle by the way is a dusty little working class mountain town about 45 minutes north of Tucson. Lots of cactus, cows and white folks. It butts up against a really beautiful national park, too.
As the morning progressed, each side of the issue congregated at different locations a mile or two apart. Word floated around that the buses were on their way up. This rumor seemed to keep refreshing itself the entire day, just as in Murrieta. My feeling from the start was there was no way in Hell those buses were coming this way. The DHS might have planned to come through Oracle but I'm sure they quickly decided to go elsewhere after seeing the crowds on TV--like Tucson or Nogales, where the atmosphere was a bit more friendly. It didn't really matter, turned out there were quite a few incidents, some humorous, some a bit more serious that provided good photo ops. As you all might have heard, School buses came through and everyone got in their battle positions, including the media and a certain congressman (cough, cough Kwasman!). He claimed those illegals kids looked sad, before he discovered they were YMCA campers. Luckily I got some shots of him running his mouth which turned out to be big story. He basically made a quick appearance and then shuttled off to Phoenix where he could have a bigger microphone.
Then late morning came and the pro-immigration protesters marched from their camp through the anti-immigration camp. That's when the hate barbs started to fly like a flock of pigeons being let out of a coop. Both sides started screaming at each other and did a little pushing and shoving to get their points across. All in all it went pretty peacefully. I don't want to get too much into the politics as I hope these images will describe it. I will say say there is a lot of intense hate out there that I think is fueled by fear of change and watching too much damn TV. People need to get out and travel and see and meet different folks of all nationalities and persuasions. Everywhere I've ever been locally or globally there have been politicians, biased media outlets and religious organizations that brainwash people in order exploit them by creating a sense of fear and hatred. You can tell because whether it's in Oracle, Murrieta, Atlanta most likely with the Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq, or wherever, they all throw out the exact same buzzwords as if there is a microphone in their ears and someone is feeding them lines. My hope is that people can just start thinking for themselves.


Peggy Peattie said...

Awesome job, as always Sandy! And not to mention the inspired all-night drive. Wow. It's never too late at night to chase THE story, is it? Good on ya.

Richard Badalamente said...

Very effective photographs. You really capture the intensity of emotion in this situation. I used one of your photos (with credit, of course) in a post on my blog on forced migration due to climate change. Keep up the good work, and stay safe!