Protests coast to coast slam SB1070

By Kris Hamel

Demonstrations around the U.S. called for the overturn of Arizona’s SB 1070 as the racist, anti-immigrant bill was scheduled to become law on July 29. Although a federal judge issued an injunction on July 28 that temporarily barred many components of the law from taking effect, activists rallied to demand its total overturn and for full rights for all immigrant workers. Many viewed the judge’s decision as a victory won through struggle.

Marching to Citi Field to protest Arizona<br>Diamondback-N.Y. Mets game in Queens, N.Y.
Marching to Citi Field to protest Arizona
Diamondback-N.Y. Mets game in Queens, N.Y.
WW photo: John Catalinotto

In NEW YORK CITY on July 29 close to 2,000 people marched across the Brooklyn Bridge to protest SB 1070. On July 30 several groups held protests at Citi Field as the Arizona Diamondbacks played the New York Mets. Protesters demanded repeal of all of SB 1070 and that the 2011 Major League Baseball All-Star game not be played in Phoenix. Two young people ran across the field and are facing misdemeanor charges.

The May 1st Coalition for Worker and Immigrant Rights held a 2.5-mile march from 83rd Street, in the heart of the Queens immigrant community, to Citi Field. The coalition denounced the ongoing police harassment of day laborers and street vendors in the area. Organizers reported it was a huge success as people poured out of stores and homes to cheer the marchers on.

On the evening of July 28, pro-immigrant rights’ activists responded to a call by Unión del Barrio, and demonstrated at the federal building in downtown SAN DIEGO in solidarity with the protests already underway in Arizona. Later at Chicano Park, activists boarded a bus provided by the San Diego-Imperial Counties Central Labor Council and headed for Phoenix for the July 29 protest.

In CHICAGOthe Immigrant Youth Justice League organized a march with 300 participants to the Cook County Jail, where many immigrants are being held and put into deportation proceedings. Among the many speakers outside the jail was Armando Robles, president of United Electrical Workers Local 1110 and a leader in the Republic Windows and Doors occupation.

Los Angeles delegation prepares to leave<br>for Phoenix protest.
Los Angeles delegation prepares to leave
for Phoenix protest.
Photo: Lawrence Reyes

Protesters in DETROITchanted, “Jobs not racism! Boycott Arizona!” and other slogans as they rallied July 29 at the downtown federal building. Standing in solidarity with those resisting SB 1070 in Arizona and other racist attacks against immigrants and the undocumented, about 150 protesters of numerous nationalities, including many youth, demanded an immediate repeal of SB 1070 and legalization and amnesty for all immigrants.

More than 500 union members representing 32 unions, organized by the LOS ANGELES County Federation of Labor, traveled on 12 buses to join other labor and community organizations at a major demonstration in PHOENIX. Before the march, a rally was held at a church where a 103-day vigil had been taking place against SB 1070. In addition to labor, the rally speakers included clergy and politicians as well as community activists and victims of anti-immigrant raids. About 1,000 protesters took part in the action.

More than 60 people rallied at the Federal Building Plaza in SYRACUSE, N.Y., under the banner “Syracuse Stands Up for Immigration Rights.” Speakers denounced SB 1070 and “racial and ethnic profiling.” The multinational crowd included undocumented immigrant workers.

Rachel Fuentes, from the Upstate Detention Task Force, read the anonymous testimony of an undocumented immigrant woman who was trying to escape domestic violence but could not ask for help because of anti-immigrant measures already in place. The Alliance of Communities Transforming Syracuse and the Syracuse Peace Council organized the rally.

Dozens of people kicked off three days of protests in PHILADELPHIAon July 27 with a rally outside the Citizens Bank Park, where the Phillies were playing the Arizona Diamondbacks. The rally called attention to the contributions of more than 1,500 foreign-born players in professional baseball.

On July 28, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers brought their Florida Modern-Day Slavery Museum to Philadelphia to place in front of the Visitors Center across from the Liberty Bell. The exhibit examines the history and evolution of slavery in Florida’s fields.

A “Welcome New Immigrants” rally was held at Welcome Park in downtown Philadelphia on July 29. The rally drew more than 100 protesters and called for pro-immigrant policies at the city, state and federal levels. A march ended at the U.S. Customs House, where a giant welcome mat was unrolled. New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia initiated the event.

Hundreds of people turned out in SAN FRANCISCO throughout the day on July 29 to demand legalization and full human rights for all immigrants. Two smaller rallies earlier in OAKLAND, CALIF., culminated in a large street protest at 24th and Mission Streets, in the heart of the Latino/a community. Hundreds of immigrants gathered with handmade signs and banners to demand, “Stop the racist Arizona law SB 1070.”

The Bay Area Organizing Committee Against SB 1070 called for the establishment of sanctuary cities and an end to the Secure communities program which has led to human rights violations, deportations and increased raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The rally was an outpouring of the many immigrant communities comprising San Francisco. Latino/a families were joined by Chinese, Filipino and other immigrants, all opposed to SB 1070. Young organizers sold T-shirts decrying racial profiling and declaring, “I am a citizen of the planet Earth.”

Raleigh, N.C.
Raleigh, N.C.
FIST photo: Dante Strobino

In RALEIGH, N.C., hundreds of immigrant workers, youth and other progressive forces marched to the Wake County courthouse and jail, which participate in anti-immigrant 287(g) programs. Fierce young immigrant activists from the Umbrella Coalition in Durham and the N.C. Heroes Emerging Among Teens in Raleigh spoke to the crowd and led the chant, “No justice, no peace, no racist police!” Afterwards, the crowd marched to the State Capitol for a powerful rally.

The march was organized primarily by N.C. ICE Watch in partnership with Black Workers for Justice, the Father Charlie Mulholland Catholic Worker House, the N.C. DREAM Team, the N.C. Justice Center, the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, Pueblo Unido, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, Student Action with Farmworkers and other community leaders.

State legislators have introduced a bill similar to SB 1070 and racial profiling continues to be a serious concern across North Carolina. Currently at least 29 county and local law enforcement agencies are participating in 287g or Secure Communities programs, which are partnerships between local law enforcement and ICE.

More than a dozen progressive leaders in HOUSTON, including representatives from Mexicanos en Acción, Democracia Ahora, Pax Christi, the Houston Peace and Justice Center, La Raza Justice Movement and League of United Latin American Citizens, gathered on the morning of July 29 to address the media. Each speaker explained why no part of SB 1070 should be law and vowed the struggle was not over just because a federal judge struck down some of its provisions.

Laura Boston of the Interfaith Workers Justice Center, who organized this event, said, “We have to keep the longer-arching vision in mind that these awful times of hate and discrimination will be remembered because of the struggle and because people stood up to defend their rights and won.”

Hundreds of Houstonians gathered for an anti-SB 1070 rally sponsored by Houston Unido, where activists vowed to stand with the people of Arizona and to fight the proposed legislation that will be introduced into the Texas Legislature in January.

Other demonstrations occurred in ATLANTA; MILWAUKEE; PORTLAND, ORE.; ST. PAUL, MINN.; and other cities and towns throughout the country.

Rakhee Devasthali, Judy Greenspan, Teresa Gutierrez, Bob McCubbin, John Parker, Bryan G. Pfeifer, Betsey Piette, Minnie Bruce Pratt, Gloria Rubac and Dante Strobino contributed to this article.

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