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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “15,000 gather downtown to protest bill”

    Tucson police walk 16-year-old Marisol Garcia (lower center) away from Armory Park yesterday afternoon after police suspected her of throwing a bottle at protestors who set the Mexican flag ablaze. (photo by chris coduto/arizona daily wildcat)
    Tucson police walk 16-year-old Marisol Garcia (lower center) away from Armory Park yesterday afternoon after police suspected her of throwing a bottle at protestors who set the Mexican flag ablaze. (photo by chris coduto/arizona daily wildcat)

    Migrant proposals draw ire across state

    Hundreds of UA students and faculty left campus yesterday to march downtown to join more than 15,000 protesters rallying against a proposed federal crackdown on illegal immigration.

    After marching more than a mile to Armory Park, 220 S. Sixth Ave., the relatively small UA group mixed with the thousands of protesters who came together, some from miles away, shutting down streets in multiple Tucson locations to protest the proposed immigration bill.

    Authorities had to shut down more than four miles of traffic as the largest group of protesters – more than 12,000 people – marched four miles from West Ajo Way and South 12th Avenue.

    “”The march is to show that we won’t stand for this type of legislation,”” said Mark Bueno, a history sophomore and community relations representative for the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano/a de Aztlan.

    Holding signs, flags and banners protesters came in droves from all directions chanting “”Si, se puede”” or “”Yes, we can.””

    At the rally, a large stage was assembled for the various scheduled speakers and entertainers, multiple food and water venders were set up and a variety of other organizations had booths.

    “”I think that there needs to be a counter voice to the conservative right that has been pretty outspoken,”” said Brett Lovick, a Latin American studies graduate student. “”I think that (conservatives) are a minority, but I think that they have had a much louder voice.””

    On Friday, President Peter Likins addressed UA students and faculty about yesterday’s events in an e-mail stating members of the UA community are entitled to express their political opinions but “”university time and resources may not be used for political purposes.””

    Approximately 200 Tucson Police Department officers patrolled the rally from start to finish and closed off streets around the park to ensure protesters’ safety, said TPD Chief of Staff Brett Klein.

    Despite the many pleas from multiple speakers and individuals on loudspeakers urging the crowd to remain civil, several individuals caused minor confrontations.

    Hours after the protest began, police arrested six individuals who were involved in a confrontation after a counter-protester set a Mexican flag ablaze.

    Police detained 16-year-old Marisol Luna for allegedly launching a water bottle into the crowd of counter-protesters and brought her to TPD’s downtown station.

    Several protesters gathered around the officers and attempted to interfere with the arrest, assaulting the officers who then sprayed the crowd with pepper spray.

    Luna and five other protesters were arrested, Herlinda Lopez, 15, Saul Figueroa, 16, Miguel Contreras, 20, Roberto Contreras, 55 and Missal Ordomez, 21.

    Klein said two officers involved in the protest suffered facial injuries.

    Despite a few rowdy protesters, Klein said the 15,000 people in the crowd stayed in control and orderly.

    Tucson was among 70 cities across the country where demonstrators rallied against bill HR 4437.

    The bill would make it felony to be in the U.S. illegally and it would create stiffer penalties for employers who provide work for illegal immigrants.

    The bill would also require church and humanitarian aid organizations to check the citizenship of parishioners before they provide any assistance.

    In addition to marching and rallying, many protesters dressed in white, left work and school and boycotted gasoline and other items to show the economic effect of Latinos.

    The Border Guardians, supporters of the new legislation, were surrounded by human chain of “”peacekeepers,”” a large group of volunteers vowing to keep order.

    “”I’m here as a second-generation American,”” said Debbie McQueen, a counter-protester. “”I’m all for legal immigration, but go back and do it the right way.””

    Tucson high school students also walked out of more than eight local schools for the third and fourth time this year.

    “”We just want our voices heard,”” said Gizelle Celaya, a biology freshman. “”We are a large part of this community and without us, it would not be the strong united community that it is.””

    – Ariel Serafin contributed to this report.

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