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November 3, 2021

Black and Brown Organizers Release Horror Film Trailer Starring Sen. Sinema Amid John Lewis Act Filibuster

“The Betrayal” Premiers in Phoenix with Message for Sen. Sinema: “Choose Us Over the Filibuster”

 Phoenix, AZ — Today, as the Senate prepares to vote on the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, democracy reform coalition Just Democracy released a horror movie trailer entitled “The Betrayal. The trailer will premiere this evening at FilmBar, a veteran-owned movie theatre in Phoenix, where numerous Arizona-based African American, Indigenous, and Latinx-led organizers will join Just Democracy for a Sundance-style film panel to discuss how Sen. Sinema’s filibuster position impacts Arizona communities. 

Watch “The Betrayal” here and see photos and videos from the week of action here.

Launching around the three year anniversary of Sen. Sinema’s election, the film trailer depicts an Arizona voter driven to madness by Sen. Sinema’s inaction and defense of the filibuster — a dramatization of the real life betrayal that thousands of Black and Brown organizers feel after working tirelessly to get Sen. Sinema elected. The trailer calls on Sen. Sinema to choose her constituents over the Jim Crow filibuster, as she remains one of the few Democratic holdouts to the progressive agenda. Just Democracy is spending six figures to promote the trailer online across the state, and alongside streaming Hulu horror content. 

The trailer release caps off a week of action during which key communities of Sen. Sinema’s constituency — unions, students, veterans, African American faith leaders and Indigenous organizers — called on Sinema to eliminate the filibuster for voting rights legislation. Over the last week, the African American Christian Clergy Coalition dropped anti-filibuster banners at ten churches across the state; CASE / UNITE Here 11 protested outside Sen. Sinema’s office; ASU students held a rally on campus; and Diné activist Allie Young published an op-ed in the AZ Mirror. 

The week of action builds on months of filibuster organizing. In June, Just Democracy spent over $1.5 million on ads pressuring Sen. Sinema to change her filibuster stance, and data shows this pressure had an effect on her approval ratings. Her poll numbers have dropped, especially among her base, as people witness Sen. Sinema’s obstruction on everything from the $15 minimum wage to Biden’s agenda to voting rights. 

The voting rights fight is urgent for Arizonans and Americans nationwide: over 400 voter suppression laws were proposed in states in 2021, with four anti-voting bills enacted in Arizona already this year. The Arizona laws disproportionately burden voters of color by tossing out ballots cast in the wrong precinct, criminalizing dropping off another voter’s ballot, and eliminating same day voter registration. Sen. Sinema criticized the Supreme Court decision upholding these laws, but without eliminating the filibuster, voting rights bills like the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act will remain in purgatory. 

Arizona and Just Democracy organizers leading the week of action weighed in:

“Black, Brown, and Indigenous Arizonans who elected Sen. Sinema feel betrayed by her complete disregard for our rights,” said Channel Powe, Just Democracy Spokesperson and Arizona activist. “While she’ll vote today to debate the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, without taking action on the filibuster, Sen. Sinema is dishonoring her hero’s legacy and enabling the decline of democracy.”

“Arizona anti-voting laws directly target Indigenous communities, even though it is already so hard for us to access the ballot box — we live miles away from most polling locations,” said Allie Young, Diné activist. “By defending the filibuster and refusing to pass voting rights legislation, Sen. Sinema is complicit in the schemes to further disenfranchise Indigenous voices.”

“The heart and soul of democracy is under attack in the United States,” said Dr. Warren H. Stewart, Sr., Chairperson of the African American Christian Clergy Coalition. “Elected officials are launching a coordinated voter suppression attack that will target African-Americans, other people of color and poor people, perpetrating systemic racism in our nation. Justice for all is a God-given right that should never be denied and must be defended aggressively. Senator Kyrsten Sinema, for you to co-sponsor the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act but support the filibuster that is blocking it even being discussed is contradictory, disheartening and an assault on democracy. Do what is just and right by eliminating the filibuster for voting rights legislation and do it now!”

“Sen. Sinema says she’s for working families, but striking down the $15 minimum wage was devastating for thousands of Arizonans who have struggled to make ends meet during the pandemic,” said Mari Yepez, Representative of UNITE Here Local 11 and CASE Action Fund. “In preserving the filibuster, she’s standing in the way of policies that a majority of Arizonans — and Americans — support, including union protections and voting rights legislation. It’s time she starts delivering for our communities.”

“Young people turned out in record numbers to vote for Senator Sinema because we thought she would stand for our values in Congress,” said Cameron Adams from Arizona State University College Democrats and Ema Angulo Rodríguez, ASU Student and of Future Coalition. “Instead, she’s out of touch and refuses to take action on the most urgent issues of our generation: the climate crisis, voter suppression, and the attack on abortion rights. We deserve a Senator who will do what is right and what is necessary, and that’s getting rid of the filibuster.”

“Today, we will witness yet another tragic weaponization of the filibuster to block voting rights legislation,” said Matthew Marquez, Campaigns Director for the Arizona Working Families Party. “The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act will join the ranks of over 200 anti-lynching bills and countless civil rights bills to be thwarted by the filibuster, and enough is enough.”

"In 2018, working Arizonans turned out in historic numbers to elect Senator Sinema because for too long, we had felt unheard by our representatives in the U.S. Senate. Now, we want Senator Sinema to hear us loud and clear: In order to Build Back Better and protect our democracy, we must meet this moment and eliminate the filibuster with urgency. We cannot allow an antiquated, procedural relic to derail decades of progress," said Fred Yamashita, Executive Director of the Arizona AFL-CIO

“As veterans, we put our lives on the line for the most sacred rights of our democracy — first and foremost, the right to vote,” said Joanna Sweatt, AZ Lead Organizer - Common Defense & Executive Co-Founder of AZ VetsForward. “These fundamental American rights are under attack, and the only way to roll back the tidal wave of voter suppression is to eliminate the filibuster and pass voting rights legislation. This is not a radical position. The filibuster is not sacred; it’s not in the Constitution. Sen. Sinema must protect our rights over protecting the filibuster.”

“Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA) is fighting to advocate for Arizona's voting rights, and we are optimistic that we can continue to stymie voter suppression in the state. But, the fact that we have to have this fight is because federal legislation is sorely needed. And it’s only the filibuster that stands in the way,” said Alex Gomez and Tomas Robles, Co-Executive Directors of LUCHA. “Arizonans know that an act suppressing voting rights intrinsically is an attack on our civil rights and we will continue working until all can reliably and comfortably vote and have our voices heard.”

"Arizona students helped get Kyrsten Sinema elected, now she is betraying them by not ending the filibuster. The young people of Arizona deserve a senator who will support  important pieces of legislation like the voting rights act, to protect students' voice at the ballot box," said Arizona Students’ Association. 

 

“Senator Sinema made big promises to garner support from Arizonans, but she hasn’t lived up to any of them,” said Daniel Hernandez, GCU Student and Arizona Community Organizer. “We cannot accept piecemeal change when our voting rights, our health care, and our lives are on the line. It’s time she honors her word and start listening to us."

 

Just Democracy organizers can be reached for interviews at press@justdemocracy.us, including Diné activist Allie Young, AZ advocate and former school board member Channel Powe, leader of the African American Christian Clergy Coalition, Pastor Warren H. Stewart Sr, and Brendan Walsh, Executive Director of CASE Action Fund. 

 

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About Just Democracy

Just Democracy is an intersectional coalition with racial justice at its core — uplifting voices from all walks of American life that are too often left out of the conversation. The coalition is made up of over 40 Black and Brown-led organizations working across issue areas. It mobilizes thousands who know that advancing social and racial justice issues first requires bold structural democracy reform.

To speak with a Just Democracy spokesperson, please email press@justdemocracy.us

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Website: https://www.justdemocracy.us

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