PHOENIX -- Invoking the image of the civil rights movement of a half century ago, the Rev. Al Sharpton promised Wednesday to recreate it in Arizona if a new immigration law takes effect, filling the jails here with protesters engaged in civil disobedience.
Sharpton, in a speech to an overflow crowd at the Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church, said the first effort will be to overturn the law, set to take effect July 29, which requires police to question those who they have reasonable suspicion are in this country illegally. And foes of the law are asking President Obama to reassert the federal government's exclusive authority to regulate who can come to this country.
"But I want you to know tonight that if those challenges don't stop this law, if the federal government will not intervene ... then I want you to know that from all over this country we will bring people into Arizona," he told the crowd just ahead of a candlelight march on the Capitol.
"We will bring them in the spirit of the Freedom Riders," referring to multi-ethnic, religious and racial groups who descended on the South in the days of segregation. He said they will walk the streets of Phoenix arm in arm.
"And if you lock up one, you'll have to lock us all up," he said.
Sharpton said the very nature of the law will lead to racial profiling despite claims by Gov. Jan Brewer and other supporters that is not allowed and will not be tolerated. And he said those who are not Latino should not believe this is not their fight.
"If they do to Latinos today, they'll do it to your group tomorrow," he said. "If you open the door to a double standard for anybody, you open the door to a double standard for everybody."
And Sharpton had a special message for blacks who made up a large part of the audience.
"Let me tell you something: After dark we all look Mexican riding down the street," he said.
IN OTHER IMMIGRATION-RELATED NEWS
-- President Obama said Wednesday he wants to begin work this year on legislation overhauling the nation's immigration system, firming up his commitment on a key priority for Latino voters and lawmakers.
Obama's comments at a Cinco de Mayo celebration at the White House reaffirmed his long-held support for immigration reform. He went a step further than he has in the past by calling for the work to begin this year.
Again Wednesday, Obama denounced the law passed in Arizona that requires police to question people about their immigration status if there is reason to suspect they're in the country illegally. Some fear the law could lead to racial profiling, and Obama said federal officials were monitoring it for possible civil rights violations.
-- Actor and activist Danny Glover said Wednesday a boycott of Arizona may not be an appropriate response by critics of the state's sweeping law targeting illegal immigration.
Glover called the law misguided, a disservice to the state and "a reaction to an extraordinary level of fear."
But the "Lethal Weapon" star also believes Arizonans and their leaders will resolve what he called a moral crisis.
"I believe that the people of Arizona ... will find a way and allow themselves to shine," Glover said.
Glover appeared at a Phoenix Convention Center news conference with Mayor Phil Gordon and the Rev. Warren H. Stewart Sr., a local civi rights advocate.
-- The Boston City Council approved a resolution Wednesday that urges the city to curtail economic ties with Arizona by pulling investments, ending city contracts and halting purchasing agreements to protest the state's recently passed immigration law.
The resolution, passed by a voice vote, also asks city employees not to travel to Arizona for city business.
-- Washington, D.C., Council member Michael A. Brown has introduced a resolution to oppose Arizona's new law cracking down on illegal immigrants.
Brown and Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray co-introduced the bill on Tuesday and the other 11 council members joined them.
The resolution urges the D.C. government and the D.C. Retirement Board to divest in state and municipal bonds issued by Arizona. It also calls for blocking city funds from being used to support participation at any conference or event held in Arizona.
-- Oakland's City Council has approved a boycott of Arizona in response to the state's new law targeting illegal immigration.
The council voted 7-0 Tuesday in favor of the boycott. It calls on city officials to review existing contracts with Arizona-based businesses and not enter into any new ones. It also says staff should not travel to the state on official city business.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.