Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
The First Amendment is under assault in Arizona today.
More than a hundred protestors blocked Washington Street near Phoenix City Hall Thursday in a mass act of civil disobedience and anger over the enactment of Arizona's tough new immigration law. Arizona immigration law protesters arrested after blocking street:
At least 14 were arrested and are confirmed in custody; more arrests are possible, as other groups of individuals are lying down in the street or standing with their arms linked in the roadway. Police in riot gear began moving in against the protestors just after 10 a.m.
The protestors were chanting "Hey Ho, Hey Ho, SB 1070 has got to go," as they blocked the street, snarling traffic in the downtown area, and delaying at least one light-rail train, which had to be rerouted.
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Earlier this morning, three people, including former state legislator and activist Alfredo Gutierrez (photo right) were arrested outside the federal courthouse in downtown Phoenix.
The other individuals who were taken into custody identified themselves as Dan O'Neal and Doris Perez.
It was not immediately clear what charges they might face.
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The epicenter of this morning's protests have been in the area immediately surrounding Sheriff Joe Arpaio's offices at the Wells Fargo Building in downtown Phoenix.
Several different groups appeared to join together in that general area around 9:30 this morning, with activists milling around in nearby Cesar Chavez Plaza and in front of Phoenix City Hall.
For most of the morning, the mood was calm, with occasional outbursts of chant and song.
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Eventually, protestors moved into the street, blocking Washington. That's when the arrests began. Police on site were protesters ample opportunities to consider leaving, to get their bags and belongings together before arresting them.
A group of legal observers from the National Lawyers Guild was also at that location, helping protestors fill out paperwork with familial contact information, name and date of birth in case they got arrested.
"We want to make sure they don't get lost in the system," said Thomas Cincotta, of Boston, who said he was a researcher at Political Research Associates.
Other activists are now marching to the 4th Avenue Jail, where about 100 people had gathered by 11 a.m.
Many are blocking the jail entrance at 3rd Avenue and Madison, chanting, "No Justice, no peace, no racist police."
"We're not trying to get arrested, we are trying to make a point," said Ruben Lucio, 21, of Phoenix. Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Phoenix, was also at the jail demonstrating.
She said she came to the jail because "I am standing for human rights. Not one more person, not one more mother, not one more grandfather will be taken from their family."
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This morning's protests and marches began with a prayer vigil and march from the Arizona State Capitol to the Trinity Cathedral in downtown Phoenix.
The number of protestors is only expected to growth throughout the day, as they are bolstered by supporters from other states.
Gustavo Ramirez, director of the activist group Phoenix Rising, said Thursday that 13 buses filled with protestors left Los Angeles this morning en route to Phoenix. They will be joining with demonstrators this afternoon, he said.
Demagogue Sheriff Joe Arpaio was quoted saying:
"These irresponsible individuals (who) plan to create so much congestion around the jail that we cannot accept prisoners will end up prisoners themselves," said Arpaio, who has beefed up security measures for himself and his staff.
The AP has more. Dozens arrested in protests of immigration law:
Arpaio vowed to go ahead with a crime sweep targeting illegal immigrants. It was Phoenix police who made most of the early arrests, but other protests were planned later in front of a county jail.
"My deputies will arrest them and put them in pink underwear," Arpaio said, referring to one of his odd methods of punishment for prisoners. "Count on it."
Compare what is happening in Phoenix to what is happening in Los Angeles today. More from the AP:
In Los Angeles, about 200 protesters invaded a busy intersection west of downtown Los Angeles.
Police shut down the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Highland Avenue and diverted traffic away after demonstrators moved into the street and sat down at about 10 a.m. Thursday.
The protesters chanted, "These are our streets" during the raucous demonstration. Police say there have been no arrests.
U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke should focus the attention of his civil rights division on Sheriff Joe Arpaio.