Minnesota Protest Against SB-1070, Arizona's Racist Anti-Immigrant Law
Minneapolis, MN – On April 26, 100 supporters of immigrant rights gathered at an emergency protest in downtown Minneapolis. They came together to voice outrage at the new anti-immigrant law passed in Arizona. Arizona's Governor Jan Brewer signed into law the most extreme anti-immigrant legislation in the country, (SB-1070) on April 23, provoking large protests in Arizona and outrage around the country.
The organizers of the April 26 protest in Minneapolis are building toward the May 1 protest for immigrant and workers’ rights, which will start at 2:00 p.m. at Martin Luther King Park at Nicollet Avenue and 41st Street in south Minneapolis. Organizers anticipate that the outrage produced by Arizona's new law will cause many more people to come out and march on May 1.
The April 26 protest responded to the new law in Arizona by targeting Minnesota's Governor Pawlenty, who has proposed many anti-immigrant laws. Pawlenty was speaking at the downtown Hilton hotel, at an event organized by the right-wing religious group, the Minnesota Family Council. The event was attended by national level Republican politicians like former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, who was also anti-immigrant during his campaign.
Speakers at the protest included Nick Espinosa of MIRAc, Greg Nammacher of SEIU Local 26, Antonia Alvarez and Pablo Tapia from Asamblea de Derechos Civiles (Civil Rights Assembly), and the Reverends Loren McGrail and Luis Alvarenga of the Interfaith Coalition on Immigration.
The new Arizona law institutionalizes racial profiling, by mandating local law enforcement to check proof of citizenship of anyone they encounter who they think might be undocumented. So anyone who the police might think looks Latino must now carry their identity documents with them at all times or be immediately suspect and subject to police harassment and arrest. Many people have compared Arizona's new law to the Pass Laws in South Africa under apartheid. Those laws required Black South Africans to carry their pass books with them whenever they left their ‘designated’ areas. If they didn't produce a pass, they were subject to immediate arrest.
Ten other states are currently considering laws like the one passed in Arizona.
In his talk at the protest, Nick Espinosa of MIRAc said, “We cannot wait any longer for immigration reform. It's time for Obama to make good on his promises. With racist demagogues like Joe Arpaio terrorizing families and communities every day, we cannot wait. With John Morton of ICE asking for quotas to increase the numbers of deportations every day, we cannot wait...When states like Arizona pass unconstitutional laws reminiscent of Jim Crow, we need the community to come together and stand side by side, immigrants and citizens together, to demand the justice that's been denied to immigrants for so many years...In this moment of national outrage we can push for real, just reform. Not more repression, but legalization and equal rights for all human beings.”
The Minneapolis protest was organized by the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Coalition (MIRAc), SEIU Local 26, Asamblea de Derechos Civiles, FMLN Committee and Workers Interfaith Network.