Demonstrators in Los Angeles wanted to offer a loud challenge to Arizona’s tough new immigration law. They shut down a busy downtown Los Angeles street for several hours on Thursday. The protest led to more than a dozen arrests.
People watched from windows of the Los Angeles Federal Courthouse as dozens of protesters marched along Alameda Street. The group called itself “We Are All Arizona.” Demonstrators chanted, beat drums and held signs high, denouncing the new Arizona law that cracks down on illegal immigration.
Nelson Motto, one of the organizers, said “we are here to challenge unjust laws in a peaceful manner by showing civil disobedience, sending a strong message to the federal government that we want an end to the separation of families… and an end to the criminalization of our migrant communities.”
In the middle of it all, 14 protesters bound themselves together with chains wrapped in poster boards. They formed a circle in the middle of street, lying on their backs for at least three hours under the hot afternoon sun. One of them — an African American woman — would only identify herself as “Arizona.”
“We’re here to say stop the deportations, stop the raids,” she said. “Immigration is a social, economic and political phenomenon. It’s not a crime.”
LAPD Sgt. Ronnie Crump made it clear that police were not there to infringe on anyone’s right to free speech. But he said these demonstrators broke the law when they blocked traffic.
“We’ve asked them to please move to the sidewalk but they refused and want to demonstrate in the middle of the street,” Sgt. Crump said. “We made an ethical appeal about the cost, about the distractions they’re causing, but this is what they choose to do.”
With that, at least 50 officers wearing helmets encircled the group. They used a small power saw to cut through the protesters’ chains. Other marchers on the sidewalk applauded as police arrested each of the 14 protesters and led them toward a police bus, one by one.
Demonstrators say they organized the march not just to protest Arizona’s new immigration law but to challenge Southland law enforcement officers who support federal immigration restrictions.