Activists want Dodgers to move spring training out of Arizona

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AP Photo/Gus Ruelas

John Morales protests Arizona's crackdown on illegal immigration, outside Dodger Stadium before the Los Angeles Dodgers' baseball series with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Monday, May 31, 2010, in Los Angeles.

Calls for the Los Angeles Dodgers to move their spring training base from Arizona were made today when about 150 people demonstrated outside Dodger Stadium in a union-organized protest against Arizona's illegal-immigration law.

"It's important for the Dodgers to take a stand,'' Mike Chavez, communications coordinator with SEIU United Service Workers West, said. "They have a history of standing up against discrimination and we're asking them to do something to show some leadership.''

Dodgers vice president of communications Josh Rawitch declined to comment.

The Dodgers have a long-term lease with Glendale, Ariz. for their Camelback Ranch-Glendale spring training facility.

The protesters, many of whom wore purple "Justice for Janitors'' T-shirts, walked in crosswalks at the intersection of Stadium Way and Elysian Park Avenue, in front of the Sunset Boulevard entrance to the stadium's parking lots.

Some protesters beat drums and gongs and carried signs saying, "Fix Our Broken Immigration System Now,'' "Strike Out SB 1070'' and "It Stops in Arizona.''

Protesters also repeated the call for Major League Baseball to shift the 2011 All-Star Game from Phoenix. When asked about the demand at a news conference following an owners meeting May 13, Commissioner Bud Selig ignored the question, instead discussing praise for baseball's minority hiring record.

The protest was held in connection with the Arizona Diamondbacks' first game in Los Angeles since Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed the bill into the law April 23. The Diamondbacks have been a target of protesters since Brewer signed the bill.

After Major League Baseball Players Association Executive Director Michael Weiner announced the union's opposition to the law April 30, Diamondbacks managing general partner Ken Kendrick said the Diamondbacks
"share the same concerns of the impact Arizona's immigration law will have on major league players.''

"However, we believe the federal government should act swiftly to address the immigration issue once and for all,'' Kendrick said. "We certainly are well aware of the struggles our state has due to federal inaction on illegal immigration.

"The fallout of recent state legislation has a direct impact on many of our players, employees and fans in Arizona, not to mention our local businesses, many of which are corporate partners of ours.

"Unfortunately, this whole situation is sad and disappointing for all of us who are associated with the Arizona Diamondbacks. We remain hopeful that this situation can be resolved in a manner that does not cause harm to our great state."

The law, which goes into effect July 29, empowers local law enforcement to check the immigration status of suspects they have been stopped for other reasons if there is a reasonable suspicion they are in the country illegally. It specifically bars police from racial profiling.

SB 1070 has sparked lawsuits and many protests, with President Barack Obama and numerous civil rights groups condemning it as discriminatory. However, a series of polls have indicated strong public support for the law.

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