Meet Karen Flores, a face of the New Arizona
“My name is Karen. I am 16 years old and I attend Westview High School in Avondale, Arizona. I have been a volunteer with the Adiós Arpaio campaign for two months. Becoming a part of this campaign, where I can fight for the change I want in Arizona, has been the greatest decision I’ve made in my life.
On November 6, 2012, Election Day, I skipped school to go out and canvass with the campaign. I was out volunteering from 7 A.M. until 7 P.M, knocking from door to door making sure people took their last chance to vote. On Tuesday night I knew Arpaio was in the lead. On Wednesday, I woke up with a sick feeling knowing Arpaio was the winner. I am not going to lie: I cried. I never cry in my life so it was very strange. But in that moment, I had lost all my hope of Arizona ever changing.
That same Wednesday, in class, I received a text from my organizer telling me that there were over 500,000 ballots in Maricopa County that had not been counted yet. I felt disgusted to be a part of a county in which this was allowed to happen. I was upset, angry, and frustrated all at the same time. On Thursday, I woke up and said to myself “I am NOT going to let them think that this is right. I am NOT going to let them think that I am going to stand for this. I am NOT going to sit down at home and watch this happen. I need to get out there and fight with the campaign because I’m done with all the injustices Maricopa County makes.”
That same Thursday I went out and protested. That was when I realized in matter of seconds that all hope wasn’t lost because so many volunteers had come out. Election Day was over and all these people still cared.
I loved being out there with UNITE HERE, but I also felt that our protests should not be necessary. We shouldn’t have to be protesting every day and keeping an eye on them just so they would count all the votes—something they should have done no matter what.
I went out and protested with the campaign almost every day until a week later, Thursday, November 15, 2012, we had a massive protest. Over 500 people showed up to support us. It was amazing to see that we were not alone. Every single person took the time out of their day to spend it protesting with our campaign.
That day changed the way I saw Arizona. It helped me see that Arizona could really change. These people who came out were just a small percentage of those who supported us. Arizona can be the state we want it to be, the state known for good things not for cruel and racial things like SB1070 and Sheriff Arpaio. I believe that with our votes and our voices we can change Arizona.
Just after Thanksgiving, our directors had a meeting with the Secretary of State Ken Bennett where he agreed with us that the election shouldn’t have been such a mess. Then the Secretary of State said he wanted OUR help to fix the election counting system in Arizona. When I found out about it this it made me feel really accomplished because that was the moment when I realized that all the protesting we did had not been for nothing. Our voices had been heard.
If Arizona forgets all this and goes back to its old ways, I know I am NOT going to forget what happened. I am NOT going to ever stand for anything like this again in Arizona. I am NOT going to let them think that they can play their old tricks on us. And I am definitely NOT going to ever stop fighting for what is right.” – Karen, Phoenix
Top Photo: Veterans standing with Adiós Arpaio and UNITE HERE in demanding every vote count in Arizona.
Bottom Photo: Karen celebrating another successful day of canvassing.