Tens of Thousands March in Major Cities to Protest Arizona's Racial Profiling Law

Arizona's new racial profiling has sparked a major national backlash, as tens of thousands marched in the country's major cities yesterday.

(photos via the LA Times)
Via the NY Times (h/t Crooks & Liars):

WASHINGTON — In protests fueled by anger over a tough anti-illegal immigrant law in Arizona, tens of thousands of demonstrators joined marches and rallies Saturday in cities across the country, calling on Congress to pass an immigration overhaul.

In Los Angeles, the police said the crowd had peaked at 50,000. Protesters numbered 25,000 in Dallas, more than 10,000 in Chicago and Milwaukee, in the thousands in San Francisco and here in Washington, D.C., according to the police and independent estimates. Organizers said rallies and vigils were held in more than 70 places around the country.

In Washington, Representative Luis V. Gutierrez, Democrat of Illinois, was arrested after staging a sit-in on the sidewalk in front of the White House with about three dozen other people, in front of a crowd of thousands.

At a rally before he was arrested, Mr. Gutierrez, speaking in English and in Spanish, evoked memories of the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

“There are moments in which you say, ‘We will escalate this struggle,’ ” he said. “Today they will put handcuffs on us. But one day we will be free at last in the country we love.”

In all, 35 people were arrested in the sit-in, the United States Park Police said.

At rally after rally across the nation, protesters chanted “shame, shame, Arizona,” and carried signs saying, “Todos Somos Arizona,” or “We are All Arizona.”

The bigger demonstrations were far larger than planners had anticipated in March, when the events were first announced. The protests were originally called by immigrant advocates who had set May 1 as the deadline for Congress to introduce overhaul legislation that would include measures to give legal status to millions of illegal immigrants.

But organizers said the Arizona legislation, which was signed into law April 23, had been a watershed event for disparate advocate organizations, transforming them into something akin to a civil rights movement with a national profile.


Via the AP:
CHICAGO — Angered by a controversial Arizona immigration law, tens of thousands of protesters — including 50,000 alone in Los Angeles — rallied in cities nationwide demanding President Barack Obama tackle immigration reform immediately.

"I want to thank the governor of Arizona because she's awakened a sleeping giant," said labor organizer John Delgado who attended a rally in New York where authorities estimated 6,500 gathered.

From Los Angeles to Washington D.C., activists, families, students and even politicians marched, practiced civil disobedience and "came out" about their citizenship status in the name of rights for immigrants, including the estimated 12 million living illegally in the U.S.

Police said 50,000 rallied in Los Angeles where singer Gloria Estefan kicked off a massive downtown march. Estefan spoke in Spanish and English, proclaiming the United States is a nation of immigrants.

"We're good people," the Cuban-born singer said atop a flatbed truck. "We've given a lot to this country. This country has given a lot to us."

Public outcry, particularly among immigrant rights activists, has been building since last week when Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed the legislation last week. Supporters say the law is necessary because of the federal government's failure to secure the border, but critics contend it encourages racial profiling and is unconstitutional.

"It's racist," said Donna Sanchez, a 22-year-old U.S. citizen living in Chicago whose parents illegally crossed the Mexican border. "I have papers, but I want to help those who don't."

Organizers estimated about 20,000 gathered at a park on Chicago's West Side and marched, but police said about 8,000 turned out.

From the L.A. Times:
Galvanized by Arizona's tough new law against illegal immigrants, tens of thousands of marchers took to the streets in Los Angeles on Saturday as the city led the nation in May Day turnout to press for federal immigration reform.

As many as 60,000 immigrants and their supporters joined a peaceful but boisterous march through downtown Los Angeles to City Hall, waving American flags, tooting horns and holding signs that blasted the Arizona law. The legislation, which is set to take effect in midsummer, makes it a crime to be in Arizona without legal status and requires police to check for immigration papers.

[...] Outrage over the Arizona law, continued deportations and frustration over congressional delay in passing federal immigration reform prompted activists nationwide to urge massive street protests on this traditional day of celebrating workers' rights.

That call was heeded by marchers like Yobani Velasquez, a 32-year-old Guatemala native and U.S. legal resident. He said the Arizona law energized him to come out and join the Los Angeles march.

"It's a racist and unfair law," said the Sun Valley truck driver. "It hurts parents and children."

Rallies in more than 90 other cities drew thousands of people from New York to Phoenix. In Washington, D.C., thousands cheered as 35 immigration rights advocates, including U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), were arrested in front of the White House after they disobeyed police orders by sitting on the sidewalk along Pennsylvania Avenue, calling on President Obama to move immigration reform forward.

But the national epicenter for opposition to the Arizona law has become Los Angeles. City officials have called for a boycott of the state, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony has likened the law to Nazism, and activists put aside past differences to stage a unified march. Five coalitions representing more than 150 labor, faith and immigrant rights organizations worked closely with Spanish-language media to publicize the call to rally, according to Angelica Salas of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles.

From the Chicago Tribune:
Chicago congressman arrested at D.C. rally

U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez made good on his pledge to get arrested at today's immigration rally outside the White House.

The congressman was among 35 activists detained for failing to move from a sidewalk outside the White House.

"They were asked to move by park police and they did not and they were asked again a couple more times, then they started arresting folks," said Douglas Rivlin, a Gutierrez spokesman.

Rivlin said the protesters were taken in plastic handcuffs by U.S. Park Police and transported by bus to a processing center, where they were booked. Gutierrez was released around 7pm Eastern, Rivlin said.

Gutierrez was charged with a misdemeanor for "failure to obey a lawful order from a U.S. Park policeman" and was ordered to pay a small fine of between $50 and $100, Rivlin said.


Also see:


And how did Fox "news" cover the May Day rallies?
With footage of people running through a border checkpoint. Watch the Deceit (h/t @StopBeck):

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