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- Posted on Jul 22nd 2010 10:00AM by Steve Baltin
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The sextet kept the focus almost entirely on the issue at hand: defeating the law. All of the speakers had very strong words, with Reza saying of Arizona, "We have become a new apartheid" and Oberst surprisingly having the harshest words, declaring the law "racist, un-American, unconstitutional, immoral," among others.
Reza started off the conference by crediting de la Rocha for leading the boycott of Arizona through his Sound Strike movement. "He was there marching with us," Reza said. "Everything [Zack's] done has been for the people of the sun," he added, borrowing a line from Rage's 1996 hit, 'People of the Sun.' He also addressed the many proponents of 1070 who claim immigration reform is necessary by saying, "We want immigration reform, but without criminalization."
De la Rocha directed much of his allotted time to speaking out at Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, one of the strongest advocates for 1070, saying that Arpaio likes to "humiliate" detainees by, among other things, making male prisoners wear pink underwear. He also made the cause very personal, talking about how his grandfather crossed over the border from Mexico into the US in Arizona and reading excerpts from a poignant letter from female detainees begging for help: "We are human beings, not animals." "This letter had an impact on me I could not explain here," de la Rocha said, visibly moved. "How could we not approach artists who share our consciousness? How could Rage Against the Machine not do a show to help leaders on the ground?"
Morello was the only one to really address the music, pointing out, "Not only is this Rage Against the Machine's first show in our hometown of Los Angeles in 10 years, it is the only North American show Rage Against the Machine will do this year." He also revealed he was excited about performing at the venue, reminiscing about some of the first shows they did at the Palladium when they were breaking out in 1991.
But as big a deal as Rage playing their first hometown show in 10 years would normally be, de la Rocha reminded everyone once again why they would be back at the Palladium on Friday night, July 23: "This is a battle for basic human dignity we are committed to win."