Friday, May 24, 2024

Tens of Thousands Flock to Arizona to Protest New LA

From as far away as Rhode Island and Louisiana, tens of thousands of marchers descended upon Arizona this past Saturday to protest the state’s passage of a controversial new anti-immigration law.

Speaking to the crowd on the grounds of the state capitol, Democratic Congressman Ed Pastor, who represents part of the Phoenix, said “We must stand together for justice, opportunity and peace. What we need in the United States is not scapegoating immigrants.”

Since Governor Jan Brewer signed SB 1070 into law, she and the state have faced a firestorm of criticism.  National civic and labor leaders have called for a boycott of Arizona which has resulted already in several million dollars of lost revenue because of cancelled meetings and conventions.

Many, including President Obama, criticize the law for its requirement that police stop people they suspect of being in the country illegally without any defining specifically what constitutes legal suspicion.  Opponents argue that this unfairly targets Hispanics in the state and will lead to racial profiling.  For this reason, the US Justice Department is expected to file a legal challenge to the law.

A diverse group of marchers made the 5 mile trek under a broiling sun to express their outrage over Arizona’s actions.  Dennis DuVall, 68, drove from Prescott, a hundred miles away, to take part in the demonstration.

“It’s my civic duty,” said the retired bus driver. “It shows commitment. People are willing to come out and walk five miles in 100 degrees. It’s important.”

Juan Baez travelled to the march in Phoenix from San Diego with his wife and children.  Baez, now a US citizen, originally entered the US illegally but was one who benefitted from the amnesty program of 1986.

He expressed his support for other immigrants residing in Arizona saying, “It’s good to come here to help people.” Although, the fact that the law was even passed shocked him, “I thought the government is more noble, more fair here.”

Later in the day, a much smaller group of supporters of the law gathered in a baseball park for a rally and speeches. The event featured a band playing the song, “Hit the Road Jack” and remarks from Victoria Dennis, a Colombian immigrant who is now a member of the Tea Party.  She said in Spanish of illegal immigration, “This has got to stop, not only here in Arizona, but in America.”

While no official estimate of the size of the protest was given, one number from police was 30,000; organizers place the number closer to 100,000.

LA Times

AZ Central