WASHINGTON, DC, June 18-Fans taking in today’s game between Washington Nationals and Chicago White Sox were met with a small demo of local residents calling for Major League Baseball to pull the 2011 All-Star Game out of Phoenix, Arizona in light of the boycott against the state after passing the anti-immigration SB1070 bill.
Also known as the “Papers Please” law, Arizona has been under fire for a law many say has made racial profiling illegal. Since Gov. Jan Brewer signed the bill into law in April protests have been held in response and in May the National Council of La Raza and other organizations called for a boycott of the state, where they urged affiliated organizations to cancel their conventions and other events planned in the state. Major League Baseball, with boasts a large number of Latino players and Major League Baseball teams making Arizona’s Cactus League the annual home of their Spring training, has been under pressure to move the All-Star game since the bill was signed, with demonstrators picketing games where the Arizona Diamondbacks were playing. Reform Immigration for America (RIFR), which organized the protest outside National Park, said in a release that the protest held this day was part of a escalation of those efforts. “Major League Baseball and Commissioner (Bud) Selig should stand up for the hundreds of players who form the backbone of today’s game, yet whose appearance and last names put them at risk of being stopped by law enforcement every time they play in Arizona,” Said Rich Stolz, Campaign Manager for RIFR.
The small group of demonstrators saw little opposition. Very few baseball fans objected to their presence, while far more were seen wearing RFIR decals that were passed out. One group of white men even yelled out “Fuck Arizona!” as they walked past the protest.
The protest comes a month and a half before the law is to go into effect. Maricopa County (AZ) Sheriff Joe Arpaio, currently under federal investigation for possible civil rights abuses, has recently announced that he will conduct a mass sweep for possible undocumented workers the day after the law is signed. According to the Associated Press, the Arizona Rookie League, which is the first step into the major leagues, is preparing the 150 or so prospects from Latin America for the new law as their season begins on Monday, even though they will be legal to be in the country.
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