300 in Reno protest Arizona immigration law
Associated Press Writer
RENO – Hundreds of people rallied in Reno on Saturday in support of immigration reform while protesting Arizona’s controversial new law with signs that read “Say No to Arizona Racism” and “No Human Being is Illegal.”
Union workers, local activists and some families with children on bicycles were among about 300 people who marched a few miles from a park near downtown to a Cinco de Mayo Festival in the parking lot of a hotel-casino.
Several waved American flags and others carried banners that read “God Bless America, Land of Immigrants” and “We Speak English, We Pay Taxes, Let Us Live in Peace.”
“Our broken immigration system dishonors America,” said Bob Fulkerson, executive director of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, one of the organizers of the rally held in conjunction with May 1 demonstrations across the country.
“The race to enact the most draconian anti-immigrant measures, led by Arizona, undermines the liberty and freedom our veterans fought to uphold,” he said in a speech at Picket Park across the street from Renown Medical Center. “Basta! Enough!”
Arizona’s law requires local law officers to question people about their immigration status if there is reason to suspect they’re here illegally.
State Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, said Arizona’s law is a misguided, discriminatory and “tragic for Arizonans and for our country.”
“Directing law enforcement to demand proof of citizenship based on the color of a person’s skin, the way they dress, or the language they happen to be speaking is unconstitutional and un-American,” she said.
A similar rally was planned later Saturday in Las Vegas.
Keith Ingram was one of the few counter protesters the demonstrators encountered in Reno on Saturday.
“I think Arizona has got a good law, because it keeps the illegal aliens out,” Ingram said.
“They’re a drain on our social system. They’re a drain on our police resources,” he told the Reno Gazette-Journal.
Fulkerson said the Arizona law is reminiscent of totalitarian regimes like Nazi Germany, relying on “their countrymen and women to spy on each other and entrust sweeping powers to the police.”
“It is a new, awesome form of government strong-arming that has no place in a country that promises to extend ‘liberty and justice for all,”‘ he said.
Ron Kamimkow, a Reno organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World, echoed that sentiment on behalf of his union urging the “unity of working class people all over the world.”
“Germany blamed its economic woes on Jews and minorities, gypsies, trade unions, foreigners and homosexuals,” Kamimkow said. “We’re in a similar danger of going down a similar road, blaming poor working immigrant families when in fact the current depression or recession in the U.S. was caused by Wall Street.”