PHOENIX -- Foes of Arizona's new immigration law hope to marshal 50,000 people for a protest march on Saturday, the first steps to a "freedom summer" of civil disobedience.
In a media briefing Tuesday, organizers also announced the first four Arizona companies that will be targeted for boycotts. Alfredo Gutierrez said officers from all four have a record of contributing not only to Republicans but specifically to backers of SB1070.
Gutierrez, a former state senator, defended estimates that 50,000 people will march from Steele Park in midtown Phoenix to the state Capitol despite the fact that prior protests against the law drew just a small fraction of that. And the latest marches have paled in comparison with May 2006 national events which put more than 100,000 people on the streets of Phoenix.
What's changed, he said, are the laws that have been passed targeting immigrants and their families.
"One consequence of that is that people, in fact, have hidden away, in fact have sought to go on with their lives while attracting the least amount of attention of (Maricopa County) Sheriff Joe (Arpaio)," he said. But Gutierrez said the new law "changes all that."
The central provision of that law requires police who have stopped someone for any reason to check to see if they are in this country legally if there is "reasonable suspicion" they are not.
Pablo Alvarado, director of the National Day Labor Organizing Network, said there is a need to focus attention on Arizona.
"Arizona has become the testing ground for the most draconian antiimmigrant legislation in our country," he said.
"It is in Arizona and other similar states where the immigration debate has been polluted with hate and poisoned by bigotry," Alvarado continued. "It is in Arizona where politicians and law enforcement agents have become the folk heroes of white supremacist organizations and individuals."
Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox said those who are not in the state cannot imagine the fear the new law has created.
"You have to come to Arizona, come to the march, talk to the people," she said. "You can feel the fear once you get off the airplane."
But the protest goes beyond the march and beyond the calls for individuals and groups to boycott Arizona. It now is targeting specific companies.
One is the Arizona Diamondbacks based on what he said is the "extraordinary hypocrisy" of owner Ken Kendrick who Gutierrez said has been involved with those opposed to immigrants. Kendrick has been a supporter of Republican candidates and recently help raise money for GOP congressional candidate Jonathan Paton.
Others being targeted include:
Hensley and Co., owned in part by Cindy McCain, wife of Sen. John McCain. Gutierrez cited the senator's current stance on tightening the border rather than providing a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants as he did years ago, as well as contributions made by company CEO Robert Delgago to those who support SB1070;
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FritoLay because of its sponsorship of the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. Gutierrez said Fiesta Bowl officials also have given money to SB1070 supporters;
Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches based on the founder's support of Arpaio.
A spokeswoman for Jimmy John's declined to comment. Calls seeking comment from the other three companies were not returned.
Separately, a group of backers of the new law, operating under the banner of Stand With Arizona, have planned their own rally Saturday evening at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Speakers include Arpaio, Mark Spencer of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association and supporters of a "buycott" urging people to come to Arizona to show support for the law.
"The purpose is just to show that we stand solidly in the corner of Arizona's right to stand as an independent state and enforce the laws that are already on the books," said Gina Louden, founder of the national buy-cott campaign. She said SB1070 simply clarifies that state and local police have the same power to check someone's immigration status as do federal officers.
She specifically said there is no reason to try to financially penalize Arizona for the new law.
Louden had no specific attendance estimates for the rally, saying only that "thousands" are expected.
Carole Bartholomeaux, spokeswoman for Stand With Arizona, said there are no plans by supporters of SB1070 to counter-demonstrate against foes during their march.
Attorney Antonio Bustamante, one of those organizing the anti-1070 march, said part of what they are hoping to do is educate people on how racial profiling will be used to enforce SB1070.
The original legislation allowed police to use race, ethnicity or national origin as one factor in deciding who to question. That was amended in a subsequent measure to ban the use of those factors.
Bustamante said, though, the law still says race and these factors can still be used to the extent permitted by the state and federal constitutions. And he said court have allowed these to be used as one of several criteria for police to make decisions on who to question.
He was not persuaded by the fact that racial profiling targeting someone because of the person's race is itself illegal. Bustamante said profiling remains as prevalent "as popcorn is at a movie theater."
State lawmakers who approved the measure and Gov. Jan Brewer who signed it are not the only targets.
Alvarado said the response of President Obama to the new law has been "insufficient." He wants a promise from the administration that Immigration and Customs Enforcement will not accept anyone arrested by state and local police under SB1070.
That, however, may not make a difference: Arpaio said the new law specifically allows him and other law enforcement agencies to charge illegal immigrants with violating state laws. And he said there is space in his jail system for those arrested.