Opponents of SB 1070 pull all-nighter in protest
Opponents of SB 1070 spent all night Wednesday in downtown Tucson to show their resistance to the remaining provisions of the anti-illegal immigration law.
The demonstrators were divided evenly between the corner of Granada Ave. and Congress St. and a prayer vigil in El Presidio Park. Throughout the night, drivers passing by honked their horns and raised their fists in support of the demonstrators.
Demonstrators worked in shifts throughout the night, with never more than thirty people, but never fewer than a dozen.
Earlier in the evening the mood was uncertain as people celebrated the enjoining of key provisions of SB 1070, but recognized that the victory was only temporary. Speakers earlier in the evening tried to keep the crowd motivated.
"The court stopped the core of what they were trying to do to us," said Isabel Garcia, co-chair of the Coalicion de Derechos Humanos. "We have a huge job ahead of us to educate the ignorant public."
"We need to remember the deaths on the border," said Kat Rodriguez, also of the Coalicion of Derechos Humanos. "Nobody's talking about it, nobody even brings it up as a reason for reform and that's just wrong."
As dawn brightened the sky Thursday, members of Calpolli Teoxicalli, an indigenous group based in South Tucson, guided the crowd in a meditation on the sunrise.
"We have to remember that a lot of our relatives have to walk through the desert under the sun," said Chucho Vaisevoi.
Across the street, two supporters of SB 1070 arrived and held their signs up for oncoming traffic.
"I was very disappointed," said Sherri Barrett about Judge Bolton's enjoining of key provisions in SB 1070. "I have a problem with people not getting a visa. I don't care who's here, just go through the system."
"I'm going to be writing and e-mailing the judge and posting that on Facebook," said Linda Wright.
Hours later, around 9:30 a.m., supporters of SB 1070 began to gather across the intersection from the demonstrators. At the same time, a group of nearly 100 day laborers and their supporters marched from Southside Presbyterian Church, 317 W. 23rd St., to meet their fellow demonstrators downtown.
By late morning, the crowds of both supporters and opponents of SB 1070 numbered more than 100.
Supporters of the law expressed their distaste for how they perceived their counterparts had dealt with the new law.
"The Left hijacked the issue. They turned it into an issue of race and not law," said Jennifer Leslie, organizer of the Pima County Tea Party Patriots.
"If the other side plans to protest next week, then we'll be there, too," said Leslie. "We'll let other states that are going to pass similar laws know that there is a vocal majority here in Arizona."
The turnout was less than expected by the Tucson Police Department. "Once the judge issued a ruling, it took the fire out of everybody," said Capt. Mike Gillooly.
"Our number one focus today is to allow people a safe environment to voice their opinions," said Gillooly.
The police did make one arrest early in the day. Christian Ziegeler, a supporter of SB 1070, was arrested on two counts of threats and intimidation, a Class 1 misdemeanor.
"He was being antagonistic and he was warned," said TPD Lt. Fabian Pacheco.
Curtis Prendergast also writes for The Sonoran Chronicle.