Immigration Protestors Close Wilshire; 10 Arrested

Ten people chained themselves together and hundreds of others marched around them Thursday as part of a protest of Arizona's immigration law, shutting down a stretch of Wilshire Boulevard for more than six hours.

The protest began shortly after 10 a.m. outside the corporate offices of international security firm G4S Wackenhut Corp., 4929 Wilshire Blvd. near Hancock Park. Several blocks of Wilshire had to be closed, with 10 people chained together in the intersection with Highland Avenue, and others marching in circles around them.

Shortly after 3 p.m., officers began cutting the chains and carrying the protesters away.

"There were a total of 10 arrests," said LAPD Officer Rosario Herrera. "The various offenses are unknown at this time, but there were 10 arrests."

LAist has posted photos from the scene.

The intersection remained closed as of 4 p.m., Herrera said.

One of the protest organizers said they were prepared to do what it takes to get out their message.

Paulina Gonzalez of the We Are All Arizona Collective told KNX Newsradio G4S was benefiting financially from Arizona's immigration law, SB 1070, some portions of which took effect Thursday.

"We are making the point today that we don't want ... tax dollars going to these corporations to be enforcing racist immigration laws," Gonzalez said. "And that's why we're here today. We're going to be out here protesting until this law is overturned...

"Dr. (Martin Luther) King said to us it is our moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws, and we are prepared if needed to go to jail in order to get our message across," she said.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said people have a right to demonstrate, but they should do it peacefully.

"It is not in anyone's interest to block freeways, to engage in violence," he said. "The best thing we can do is exercise our freedom of speech, our freedom to assemble, and do so in a very constructive way."

Meanwhile, several hundred people boarded about a dozen charter buses Thursday morning at Dodger Stadium, to ride to Phoenix and join protests against Arizona's new immigration law.

The protesters included members of unions and religious groups. Even though key portions of the Arizona law were blocked by a federal judge, protesters believe the ruling will be challenged in an appeal and they want to show their willingness to continue the fight against the law.

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton in Phoenix issued a preliminary injunction Wednesday blocking several sections of SB 1070 from taking effect.

Most notably, she blocked the provision that requires law enforcement officials to check a person's immigration status while enforcing other laws, if they reasonably suspect the person is in the country illegally.

Despite the judge's ruling, hundreds of Southland immigrant-rights activists were still traveling to Arizona to protest the measure.

Members of the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition gathered Wednesday morning to pile into vehicles bound for Arizona, where they plan to participate in protests Thursday -- when the law had been scheduled to take effect.

"People that come here deserve rights. They deserve equality. They don't deserve to be harassed," protester David Feldman told reporters before heading toward Arizona.

Despite the judge's ruling, members of the Los Angeles City Council said Wednesday they had no immediate plans to lift the city's economic boycott of the state.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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