Immigration Activists in Denver Ratchet Up the Protest, Civil Disobedience
There were 14 people arrested in an immigration rights protest Tuesday in Denver, Colorado. The arrests mark the first acts of civil disobedience in the Mile High City, although the Denver arrests represent a growing pattern of civil disobedience throughout the country.
“We have been fighting for immigration reform for years” said Julie Gonzalez, a Colorado immigration rights activist. “When President Obama was candidate Obama, he made us a clear promise. He would pass immigration reform during his first year!”
Mateos Alvarez, from Service Employees International Union Local 105 (SEIU), a service worker’s union, said “Now and today we are going to march for immigration reform. But today also, we celebrate ‘Justice for Janitors’ day.” Alvarez indicated many janitorial workers are undocumented and reform was for them.
Instead of immigration reform for the nation, Arizona passed the toughest immigration legislation in the history of the U.S. under Arizona SB 1070. The law requires police to detain all persons suspected of being in the country without documentation. The law has resulted in racial profiling and made crime victims reticent to report criminal activity.
The 14 people who were arrested in Denver knelt down and blocked all traffic from Stout Street, a busy traffic corridor which fronts onto the Federal Court House in downtown Denver. Undocumented immigrants who are caught in raids often find themselves in the courthouse as their first date with justice. The Denver Police issued the protesters orders to leave within a time frame. When the 14 remained seated, each was given yet another chance to leave and go to the sidewalk. None of the protesters took the arresting officer up on his offer.
Meanwhile, an officer videotaped the event and the answers of each person, presumably for evidence. Cameras on the part of law enforcement can also dampen the free speech rights of those who want to be heard. A few in the crowd pointed cameras back at the police.
The charges against the protesters were refusal to obey a lawful order and blocking a street. Bond was set at $500 each, with a few possibly higher. All arrested were out by 9:00 p.m. Tuesday night.
SEIU locals in other states encouraged participants to make similar marches and protests. Today marks an escalation of the battle for immigration reform as Colorado becomes aggressive in passing comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) this year.