I’ll start out by describing what went wrong with the rally and end with what went right [pictures].
The day of the rally the temperature hit a high of 108 degrees with clear blue skies and a burning hot sun. June temperatures in Phoenix are often that hot but this year we have had a mild spring — maybe due to global cooling. Rally organizers were betting on continued mild weather but their luck didn’t hold out. Relying on luck is a lousy way to plan events—and they were not lucky. The rally was an uncomfortable if not a dangerous place to be.
The heat in Arizona’s summer months dooms outdoors events before they even begin. I'm not sure why so many event organizers lack the common sense to figure out that 100+ degrees in a blazing sun is miserable, and dangerous. Duh! By the time I arrived many people were fleeing the heat and as a result the crowd dwindled by the minute. Several people required ambulances and many left when they felt sick or dizzy.
Personally whenever I hear about an outdoors event in the summer I avoid attending them because they are usually fizzles—but I went to this one just to see for myself what transpired. Attendance numbers were far lower than the organizers predicted but thanks to many out-of-town activists there was a big enough crowed to look like a real rally. It seemed that one third to one half of the crowd were visitors.
The venue for the event was worse than bad. Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza is directly across the street from the State Capitol building. Bolin Plaza has almost no shade except for a few scrawny mesquite trees, and it's mostly concrete and asphalt. Shade trees were cut down to discourage homeless people from using them for shelter and to hide from police. The park was designed for small events such as concerts or perhaps minor political events. It's not a people friendly place so it's usually used more for parking than anything else. Even the thousand people that attended the rally were too many because the plaza is not a people friendly place and not designed to accommodate large crowds. [aerial view]
While the Rising Rally was going on there was a simultaneous protest against SB 1070 by an open border crowd across the street at the Capitol building. They were protesting in relative comfort on thick cool grass and the big shade trees while the Patriots got the broiling plaza.
It's not clear why the rally organizers chose Bolin but without question state Senator Kyrsten Sinema was rumored to be responsible for grabbing the best location for the illegals to hold their protest against tougher immigration enforcement. My only guess why the Bolin Plaza was chosen for the rally is that somebody with an oversized ego thought that holding the event across the street was a way to thumb their noses at Kyrsten, but I'm sure she laughed all day long. The pro illegal alien protestors must have enjoyed watching the Patriots (stupid gringos) being roasted by the sun (yummy— crispy white people). LOL!
By the way, the proceedings that day show that the activists in Phoenix are very polarized. The open borders protest was mostly Latino while the Phoenix Rising rally was mostly white. Blacks and Asians seem to have decided that immigration isn't their problem.
Rally organizers announced that 10 to 15 thousand were expected to attend the rally. Everyone should consider it a mixed blessing that only about a thousand showed up because the infrastructure clearly wouldn’t have been able to deal with crowds that large.
OK, so here are a few more things that were wrong:
The stage was hanging half way onto a hot parking lot (asphalt). Intermittent noise from from cars, motorcycles, vendors, generators, etc distracted from the speeches. Sun screens weren't provided to shield the speakers and stage ushers, who had little choice but to suffer as they stood out in the hot blazing sun. Stage blowers were not provided either so it was miserable for the speakers to stand up there to talk. It as very impressive that none of the speakers or ushers had to be taken out of there by ambulance due to heat stroke. Many speakers mentioned the heat but whoever was running things didn't get the hint.
The orientation of the stage couldn't have been worse because the front of the stage pointed eastward. As the sun got lower it baked the backs of the speakers and scorched the faces of the audience. Somehow the patriotic audience remained enthusiastic even though they were clearly suffering.
There were no chairs so everyone had to bring their own or stand. The other alternative was to sit on the trampled, rash inducing bermuda grass or to lean against concrete walls that were hot to the touch. The stage couldn't be seen without standing very close; which is another reason it was lucky attendance was low.
Booths were on the hot asphalt. Not very comfy but at least they had tents to provide shade.
It was amusing to watch the TV camera guys huddle under a veranda until they were cooled down. Dash over to the stage to shoot video when something important was happening, then they would retreat back to the shade or their air conditioned trucks. Cameramen staked out the only shade in the park which was appropriate because of the importance of keeping them in a positive frame of mind.
Roving vendors charged for water. In contrast the illegal alien rallies I have been to handed out water free to protestors (example the Al Sharpton march). Apparently the illegals are smart enough to understand how dangerous desert heat can be. In the Phoenix Rising rally the audience had to buy water for $1 a bottle. Charging for water is a bad idea because many people might be inclined to try toughing it out without water and risking dehydration—which is very dangerous especially for people from out of town that don't understand how fast the dry desert heat can overwhelm them. Sure, I know Sharpton has money but scrimping on water is just downright skanky!
I didn't try to get into the area where the BBQ was, but it was in a big round concrete lined pit so I could stand around and watch the sad looking diners like they were zoo animals. It's possible they would have allowed me in if I said I was a Vdare reporter but considering the undesirability of being in that pit I decided to observe everything from the top.
Calling that food "BBQ" was false advertising because it looked like nothing more than stale hamburgers and hot dogs that were brought in by a catering truck. I have been to events that were catered by the same company and they can make good food—so I think somebody decided to shave costs in order to increase revenue. Shame! Shame!
At least the lines to get food weren't long because the food was probably so bad nobody wanted it. Eating there didn't seem pleasant because everyone had to stay in that snake pit. The concrete that surrounded the diners was hot to the touch because it had been baking in the sun all day long. I wouldn't have eaten there because of the danger of salmonella poisoning. Not much in the way of cold drinks either—which must have been very distressing for the people who paid at least $25.
The hustlers in charge of the dinner party refused to take walk-in tickets until they realized what a bust the "BBQ" was turning into. Surely the fund raising aspect of the dinner to help Hayworth's campaign was a failure because of the low turnout. Of course every dollar counts when running against millionaires like the McCains.
It was sort of depressing watching the people try to swallow their dry, unappetizing food so I decided to leave the event so I could have some cold beer. A local microbrewery had a seasonal triple hopped IPA that was way better than listening to J.D. Hayworth give a stump speech. Don't get me wrong, I like Hayworth but by this time I wasn't in the mood for political speeches. For people visiting downtown Phoenix the SunUp microbrewery is the place you should consider to spend some of your buycott Arizona money, and it's just far enough away that many visitors don't know about it. The beer is almost as good as the West Coast.
Many people blame Team America for the lack of planning because they arrived in Phoenix late Friday evening just hours before the starting time. There are plenty of fingers to point to however. Feuding by ALIPAC's William Gheen didn't help the situation. The Pennsylvania people can only be partially faulted since they aren't used to the extreme heat in Arizona and probably didn’t understand the logistics of a place like that plaza. If you want to read the dirt that went on behind the scenes go here: The Phoenix Shall Rise.
The protest that was held the previous weekend at the Tempe Diablo Stadium called "Stand With Arizona" by the Dallas Tea Party was about 10 times better in terms of organization, venue, stage, weather, audience comfort, etc. etc. Their stage and sound system was second to none.
They didn't have as many all-star speakers as the Rising rally and it went on too late in the evening. Many people left about 9:30 pm because they got frustrated waiting to listen to Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Joe arrived early to the event but whoever was making the decisions just figured they would force people to stay put until the end. Instead of bringing Arpaio to the stage, inexplicably the handlers stalled by putting on mediocre musicians and speakers who didn't have much more to say. It was kind of sad that so many people from out of state got to hear Arpaio for only 12 minutes because they definitely wanted more.
Well, at least the Stand organizers were smart enough to have the rally in the evening! They had 7,500 attendees compared to maybe 1,000 at the Rising rally. The Rising rally numbers were inflated and got much smaller as people left early to escape the heat. It's actually the first time I have ever seen the media conspire to inflate the numbers for our side — some of them were saying 2,000 attended which is a real stretch. Perhaps the fact the media was positive is a sign that our movement is making real progress.
Towards the last hour the NumbersUSA people and most of the other earlier speakers had evacuated the premises so unfortunately I never got to meet with them. Russell Pearce closed the show and actually managed to get the crowd to their feet to cheer him on.
OH YEAH—I DID PROMISE TO ALSO MENTION SOMETHING POSITIVE:
Although the Stand With Arizona rally was far better the Phoenix Rising rally, the Rising had one thing that is all important: lots of favorable press coverage! In contrast the Stand rally was mostly ignored by the media.
Probably the most important goal of a rally is to attract attention, so the size of the crowd is usually all important. It doesn't do much good having a million man march if the media doesn't report it but having that many people usually gains coverage. This time crowd size didn’t seem to matter because the media coverage was plentiful and positive. CNN's Casey Wian was on location for a good portion of the day.
I doubt the abundant coverage was an accident, so somebody deserves credit for excellent media outreach. It probably didn't happen by luck, although considering everything else about the event, random luck is a definite possibility.
Overall, the Phoenix Rising Rally was the most successful one Arizona has ever had against illegal immigration because ultimately the purpose of all of these types of events is to generate maximum favorable press coverage. The rally succeeded at its main purpose of garnering the media! Both national and local TV media as well as newspapers gave favorable coverage. Even the camera shots made the crowd look bigger than it was, which is something they almost never do unless the Latinos and anti enforcement people are marching. There were lots of good interviews of the speakers, leaders, and attendees and for the most part were very positive. All the local TV stations gave favorable coverage as well as the newspapers. I don't want to sound like I'm overstating things but the Phoenix Rising Rally may have been the most successful one our side has ever had—anywhere in the United States!
So, it just goes to prove that sometimes it’s possible to get away with bumbling and stumbling when it comes to organization and presentation and still be a success!
The next rally will be held on June 12th and will be called a Tea Party Road Trip. It will be held at the same Wesley Bolin Plaza so it will be interesting to see if they make the same mistakes. They might luck out however because the weather is expected to be a much cooler 93 degrees.
ALIPAC with William Gheen is organizing this one so there will be some odd dynamics at work.
[VDARE.com Correction: ALIPAC did not take part in organizing this rally,Â We regret the error.]