Musicians' 'Sound Strike' Targets Arizona Immigration Law Zack de la Rocha from the band Rage Against the Machine has organized a boycott of Arizona called The Sound Strike, in response to Arizona's controversial new immigration law. So far, he's recruited artists ranging from Kanye West and Nine Inch Nails to Latino bands such as Los Tigres del Norte.
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'Sound Strike' Targets Arizona Immigration Law

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'Sound Strike' Targets Arizona Immigration Law

'Sound Strike' Targets Arizona Immigration Law

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ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

Arizona Public Radio's Daniel Kraker reports.

DANIEL KRAKER: Arizona is no stranger to musical protests over its politics. Here's the hip-hop group Public Enemy from 1991.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BY THE TIME I GET TO ARIZONA")

PUBLIC ENEMY: (Singing) ...come on. I'm on the one mission to get a politician to honor, or he's a goner by the time I get to Arizona.

KRAKER: Soon after, voters approved the holiday. Fast-forward to 2010 and the musicians hope another boycott, this time over the state's immigration law, can have a similar impact.

ZACK DE LA ROCHA: We have to intervene in order to do whatever we possibly can to limit that state's ability to function and implement the law.

KRAKER: That's Zack de la Rocha of the band Rage Against the Machine from a Web video he's produced. He's organized a boycott of Arizona called The Sound Strike. So far, he's recruited artists ranging from Kanye West to Nine Inch Nails to Latino bands, including Los Tigres del Norte. Jorge Hernandez says his band's decision to join the boycott was personal: If the Los Angeles musicians were to come to Arizona, they worry that police could detain them.

JORGE HERNANDEZ: They can ask questions because I look brown or I look a different color. We are very sure that there's going to be problems with our community.

KRAKER: The boycott is having an impact on some Arizona music promoters and clubs. Alycia Klein is the general manager for the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix, where the rapper Pitbull canceled his show earlier this month. She says the boycott couldn't come at a worse time.

ALYCIA KLEIN: With the economy as it is, you know, I mean, this is the last thing that people are thinking about doing with their money is going to spend it to have fun. So now when I do have artists that will attract people to come out, and now they're unwilling to come out, it's devastating.

KRAKER: But Martin Cizmar, the music critic for the alternative weekly Phoenix New Times, is more worried about the hundreds of bands who might not join Sound Strike but just won't come.

MARTIN CIZMAR: Arizona is already a little bit of a hard sell during the summer, and we're going to have a long, silent summer, I think, with some of this, because people are just going to look at us on the map and think: Oh, I don't really want to go there.

KRAKER: Cizmar says a big, organized boycott caught people off guard. While he's opposed to the law, he fears the boycott could really take hold.

CIZMAR: It doesn't take too much to get people behind a really big cause, and if this happens to become the cause of the moment and this becomes a trendy cause, we're screwed.

KRAKER: So Cizmar rounded up 17 Arizona artists to contribute to a CD called "A Line in the Sand." It's a collection of protest songs against the law SB 1070. All of the bands, including Phoenix-based Andrew Jackson Jihad, finished their songs in just two weeks.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)

ANDREW JACKSON JIHAD: (Singing) Give me your tired, give me your tired, give me your poor. When our government acts likes this, I don't want to live here anymore. Sure, I can see us (bleep) move to Portland or New York, or I can say change the place where I was born.

KRAKER: Proceeds from the CD will go to organizations fighting the law. That's what Phoenix promoter Stephen Chilton thinks Sound Strike musicians should be doing.

STEPHEN CHILTON: Any one of these artists, you know, if they really wanted to make a statement, really wanted to be involved, they could come here and play. I mean, Rage Against the Machine could do a benefit here and donate the profits to a number of local organizations that would have an impact.

KRAKER: Yolanda Bejarano with the Phoenix band Snow Songs is part of the organization called Artists for Action. She says, initially, she supported the boycott, but now believes...

YOLANDA BEJARANO: We need to do something here and mobilize people and try to do it a different way, instead of just not coming here.

KRAKER: For NPR News, I'm Daniel Kraker.

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