Pruitt’s furniture store has become known as “ground zero” for the immigration debate after complaints were made two months ago about alleged undocumented workers gathering outside the store on a daily basis, looking for work.
At one of the protests, eight illegal immigrants were arrested. Last Saturday, a demonstrator was arrested on an assault charge after police say she approached the president of Mothers Against Illegal Aliens and pulled on a microphone cord she was holding, then pushed her in the chest.
Today some of protesters marched to city hall. The group wants Mayor Phil Gordon and the Phoenix City Council not to change a policy that prevents Phoenix police from asking about a person’s legal status.
Marcher Rev. Liana Rowe, Interfaith Worker Justice of Arizona, told the Arizona Republic she was walking for immigrants' basic right to make a living.
"I am here to stand in solidarity of the workers and their rights to seek work without harassment," Rowe said.
There are other reasons for the march as well.
Protest coordinator Salvador Reza told News 5 Sheriff Joe Arpaio (pictured here) should stop targeting illegal immigrants and that people should leave day laborers alone.
"He's bankrupting the county going after illegal immigration when he should be fighting criminals."
Speaking of Sheriff Arpaio World War Four Report writes:
"A Mexican citizen who is in the US legally has filed the first lawsuit challenging the aggressive immigration-enforcement efforts of Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Arizona's Maricopa County, charging unlawful detainment and racial profiling. The suit seeks a declaratory judgment that Arpaio's actions are unconstitutional, and injunctions prohibiting the use of Arpaio's anti-immigration hotline and directing the Sheriff's Office to disband its Illegal Immigration Interdiction unit."
"Our investigations show that the Sheriff's Office has routinely exceeded their authority and shown a blatant disregard for the civil rights of individuals in Maricopa County," said Lou Moffa, a lead attorney in the case. "With this suit, we hope to demonstrate that no matter how politically popular an issue is, the Sheriff's Office does not have the right to trounce haphazardly over an individual's rights."
The lawsuit, filed Dec. 12 in federal court, outlines several instances where Arpaio and his deputies are accused of overstepping their authority to conduct "immigration raids," targeting people solely based on race, and detaining persons who are legally in the country. Although only one plaintiff is identified, the lawsuit is a class-action suit filed on behalf of "all others similarly situated."
The following is from the East Valley Tribune (Arizona).
Immigration activists march in Phoenix
Protesters chanted slogans in Spanish and carried signs with pro-immigration messages Wednesday morning in a six-mile march to Phoenix City Hall.
About 100 participants chanted slogans such as, "Se ve, se siente, el pueblo es presente," which means: "You see, you feel, the people are present."
The march started at 9 a.m. at Pruitt's furniture store near 35th Street and Thomas Road, where weekly immigration rallies have heated up in recent weeks. Phoenix police arrested one protester Saturday outside Pruitt's on suspicion of shoving the president of Mothers Against Illegal Aliens.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said his deputies have arrested more than 50 people near the store on suspicion of violating federal immigration laws.
The friction at Pruitt's has been going on for at least two years. Tension flared in recent weeks when Pruitt's owner Roger Sensing started hiring off-duty sheriff's deputies to patrol the property and ward off day laborers who gather near the store.
Phoenix resident Sylvia Herrera, 64, joined Wednesday's march down Thomas Road. She said she wants the sheriff to stop arresting people in her neighborhood, and she wants Pruitt's to stop hiring off-duty deputies.
"This walk is for human rights," Herrera said. "It's a prayer for peace and justice."
M. Fulton, 31, who practices holistic medicine in Tempe, said sheriff's deputies are guilty of racial profiling.
"I'm not supportive of anything that would support racial profiling," he said. "Our people have been put down long enough."
Some protesters made noise with shakers while others sang "We Shall Overcome." Phoenix police reported no incidents of violence.
About five counter-protesters voiced support for Arpaio, who spoke to the media at the start of the march. He said immigration activists have refused to meet with him to discuss their concerns.
"These people don't want to listen to the sheriff," Arpaio said. "I tried to talk to them."
Arpaio said he would not let the protesters intimidate him or sway him from enforcing immigration laws.
He said a $2 million allocation from the state Legislature has funded his crackdown on illegal immigration, and the money has not come out of his regular budget.