Sound Strike! Rage, Kanye, others refuse to perform in Arizona

By Sahil Kapur
Thursday, June 17, 2010 11:51 EDT
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What’s more important to Arizonans, the state’s new immigration law or the opportunity to continue attracting musicians to perform?

Vocalist Zack de la Rocha of Rage Against The Machine is leading a growing cadre of musicians to boycott performances in Arizona as a result of the state’s controversial immigration crackdown.

The effort, called Sound Strike, began May 25 with a letter written by de la Rocha alleging the law “legalizes and sanctions racial profiling. Straight up.” It has since been co-signed a host of popular and respected musicians, including Kanye West, Massive Attack, Joe Satriani, Cypress Hill and Sonic Youth.

“Fans of our music, our stories, our films and our words can be pulled over and harassed every day because they are brown or black, or for the way they speak, or for the music they listen to,” wrote de la Rocha, who is partly of Mexican descent and known for his politically-charged and subversive lyrics.

Even filmmaker Michael Moore signed on.

The Arizona law mandates that police demand immigration documents when there is “reasonable suspicion” that someone during a lawful encounter is undocumented. It’s popular overall in the state and nationally but has drawn the ire of civil rights groups and the Hispanic community, which say it unfairly targets Latinos.

Invoking civil rights activist Rosa Parks, the Rage Against The Machine singer and rapper wrote: “What if we got together, signed a collective letter saying, “we’re not going to ride the bus,” saying we are not going to comply. We are not going to play in Arizona. We are going to boycott Arizona!”

Sound Strike is just the latest in a series of Arizona boycotts in response to the measure.

Arizona has shown little interest in repealing the law.

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