UPDATE: DRM Capitol Group has joined forces with Get Equal this morning and “disrupted Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan’s victory speech to denounce his hypocritical policy positions on immigration and LGBT issues,” according to the statement they released. Watch video of the fearless DREAMers protesting:
DREAMers with the DRM Capitol Group made their presence known again yesterday at the Republican National Convention, when they followed Maricopa County’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio to Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, where he gave a far-away-from-the-actual-convention speech to Western state delegates. The DREAMers—Felipe Matos, Paola Everret, Erika Andiola, and Cesar Vargas, with Ryan Campbell—unfurled a banner and began protesting Arpaio; they were almost immediate escorted out.
Watch video of their protest below:
Today’s protest was an encore to a larger rally DREAMers held here on Tuesday, when they marched to the RNC to demand an answer on deferred action from Mitt Romney. Just a few weeks ago, DREAMers—including those with the DRM Capitol Group—became eligible for relief from deportation under President Obama’s new DREAMer policy. But Mitt Romney has yet to fully explain what he would do with this new program if he assumes office, and the DREAMers were asking him to answer the question for once and all.
Today’s protest at the zoo aimed at a different target, one who is notorious across Latino and immigrant communities across America for his crimes against people of color. As Erika said of Sheriff Arpaio at a media debrief after the protest, “He’s been not only a local enemy to all us immigrants and Latinos, he’s a national figure of fear.”
The DREAMers at the protest today actually had to make a quick decision about their priorities when Arizona Governor Jan Brewer also showed up at the Arpaio speech. After some back and forth, they decided to focus on their original target—Arpaio.
“We kind of hung out there waiting for the right moment,” Felipe said of their carefully timed protest outside the Arpaio speech. “Then we started getting a lot of questions from staff, then the police said we were getting too close, so we decided to just do it. We had a big banner that read ‘the faces of extremism’ and one of the pictures on it was Arpaio. We chanted ‘Arrest Arpaio, not the people!’ a few times and then we got escorted out. It was quick though, it was really quick.” The DREAMers believe that Arpaio wanted to keep them away from the press.
“But we hope that somehow [Arpaio] heard us from outside,” Felipe added.
Speaking overall about their time at the Republican National Convention, the DREAMers said that their main intent was to energize their supporters and publicize the increasing extremism of Republicans.
“Our main message is that Republicans have become extreme on everything,” Erika said. “Not only on immigration, but they have been extreme on almost every issue that our communities care about, whether it’s immigration or gay rights or women’s rights. They have to stop that, because it’s about democracy—and they have even gone against that with voter suppression. So we’re going to push back.”
“Today it was Arpaio, tomorrow it’s going to be someone else,” she continued. “We’re going to go in and make sure that they hear us and know that they can’t chase us away.”
The DREAMers and the DRM Capitol Group will have a few days of rest, and then they will head off to Charlotte to meet up with the Undocubus at next week’s Democratic National Convention. They plan to remind Democrats to keep fighting for good immigration policies and rally for the continuation of deferred action.
As Cesar put it, “Our number one priority is protecting DREAMers.”
View the full interview with the Erika, Paola, Ryan, Cesar, and Felipe here: