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Protests become celebrations, followed by disorder

Small, peaceful celebrations were held July 28 after U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton halted key elements of Arizona’s immigration law, but that all changed the following day as protesters filled the streets, blocked roads and caused civil disobedience that got dozens arrested.

Former state Sen. Alfredo Gutierrez, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2002, was among those arrested. Other reports indicated Hispanic activist Salvador Reza was arrested as well.

Hundreds of protesters crowded onto the streets in downtown Phoenix to send the message that the injunction on S1070 didn’t go far enough. Many of them said they wanted the entire law stopped in its tracks.

Police began to make arrests July 29 as dozens of members from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation, a spiritually diverse faith group, gathered outside Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s offices at the Wells Fargo Building in downtown Phoenix.

Minutes later, hundreds of protestors joined the faith group, blocking Washington Street near Phoenix City Hall.

Sara LaWall, a member of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation, joined the crowd as they chanted “Arpaio, let our people go.” She said the group has been praying to stop the injustices of S1070 but it has not been enough.

“It’s more important to be out in the streets with the people who are affected by this legislation and to let them know we stand in solidarity with you, and we will go to jail with you,” LaWall said.

Bolton’s ruling kept several portions of Arizona’s immigration law from taking effect, including a provision that would have required police officers to check the immigration status of people they stop, detain or arrest.

Mark Spencer, president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, said for the past two years, police officers have already been contacting Immigration and Customs Enforcement when they come in contact with someone they have a reasonable suspicion to believe is in the country illegally and is connected with a crime. Spencer said Bolton’s decision to halt some of the major provisions of S1070, however, does not help officers combat illegal immigration.

“She took out some components that are valuable tools to proactively address the crime of illegal immigration,” Spencer said.

Another mass act of civil disobedience caused more arrests as protesters created a human chain outside the Maricopa County Jail, blocking the entrance.

Sandra Castro, 22, of Tempe, yelled chants such as, “We will not comply” and “Arrest Arpaio, not the people” into a microphone as she stood in front of hundreds of people outside the jail.

“We are here to close down the jail and not let anyone in here if Arpaio is going to keep violating people’s rights,” Castro said.

Two sheriff’s deputies gave the group five minutes to leave before arresting them for unlawful assembly.

Ernesto Lopez, 23, of Buckeye, was among those arrested outside the jail. He said Arizona’s immigration law represents injustice to the immigrant community.

“We’re tired of having our people treated as criminals, because undocumented people are not criminals,” Lopez said. “They are here for many reasons, for food, for hunger, for a better life.”

The group was also there protesting a federal agreement – 287G – that gives local police the authority to initiate deportation proceedings against undocumented immigrants.

“Arpaio has been doing everything that he has been allowed to do because of 287G, and SB1070 is only a replica of 287G,” Castro said. “Right now he is out in the streets racial profiling people asking for their documents and arresting those who are only here to work.”

Vigils outside the Capitol and a concert outside the Maricopa County Jail were scheduled for the evening of July 29.

Rosa Maria Soto of Glendale, who participated in prayer vigils and camped outside the Capitol for more than 100 days in protest of the immigration law, said there is still more work to be done to stop S1070.

“We have to keep in mind that this is only the beginning; there’s still a long fight ahead of us,” Soto said.

5 comments

  1. The last time the legislature actually worked for the majority of Arizonans was when Alfredo and Burton Barr were in charge. Rather than putting him in jail they should be installing him at the legislature to take on the reckless band of ideologues who have hijacked our state. We have a Governor who appears to be auditioning for the reprised role of George Wallace in the 60′s and a bevy of whackjobs such as Pearce, Adams, Kavanaugh, Harper and “Birther” Burges “leading” us into darkness. The state started its downhill run with the election of Felon Fife and has been racing towards the bottom ever since.

  2. Mark Spencer, the PLEA union thug, is a fool and little man-tool of Sheriff Joke.

  3. Ok, let me school you all one more time:
    “… because undocumented people are not criminals,” Lopez said. “They are here for many reasons, for food, for hunger, for a better life.”
    1. Immigration is by its very definition a LEGAL process. That’s why it’s defined in the Federal Code. The state of AZ has now defined it as well, or at least made it somewhat clearer.
    2. The judge paused enactment of some the provisions in SB1070. No one with any authority has declared it unconstitutional.
    3. Suffering, wanting a better life, etc does not make you an immigrant in ANY country in the world. Going through the established process, whatever that is, does.
    4. Blocking a jail is a stupid move. If you were a corrections officer, would you be assured that it’s not part of a plan to break somebody out of jail.
    5. :…required police officers to check the immigration status of people they stop, detain or arrest.” Police officers can’t be required to do this, but they can do at their own discretion.
    6. What part of ILLEGAL is that difficult to understand?

  4. As a long time member of various UUA fellowships and of the CLF, I am disappointed some Americans do not comprehend the value of law and legal procedure. Not one word of the Constitution authorizes anarchy. The comment above is absolutely correct: entering the USA illegally is illegal, which includes drug dealers, job takers, and terrorists. We do have legal provisions which allow cheap labor (largely for the benefit of wealthy business owners) temporary workers, students, etc., into the country. The risk and the problems caused by illegal entry cannot be simply ignored, and our nation is no longer capable of absorbing every homeless sufferer without difficulty and/or increasing damage to the poor we already house. Better that we take care of our own than to make them worse, and the millions of poor in our home is increasing. Sorry about that too, but until we protest the greedy American millionaires who pay poverty wages to American citizens, we have plenty to do without spending our money traveling to the border interfering with elected officials who have enough to do enforcing the law. To say nothing about why our military should be on our borders and not in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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