Milwaukee protests Arizona’s SB 1070
As part of a nationwide protest movement, thousands of Milwaukeeans gathered near 5th and National Avenue on May Day to show their collective opposition to Arizona’s SB 1070 immigration law. The new law allows police officers the right to request identification from any person who they “reasonably suspect” is in the country illegally, which essentially encourages systematic racial profiling of hispanics in the state of Arizona, opponents say.
I was among the marchers as Milwaukee’s protest stepped off around noon in front of the Voces De La Frontera headquarters on 5th and Washington. Organizers addressed the crowd in English and in Spanish, calling upon President Obama to intervene in Arizona’s bigoted new legislature and to focus on immigration reform in the United States. As the crowd made its way down the long stretch of National Avenue heading to the Mitchell Park Domes, everyone from toddlers to octogenarians waved flags and chanted “Sí se puede!” (Yes we can). Two hours later, as the crowd descended upon Mitchell Park, VDLF Executive Director Christine Neumann-Ortiz said the passage of SB 1070 “awakened a new chapter in the immigrant rights movement” in America and that it’s “helped to unify the movement across race, gender and geography.”
Though pro-SB 1070 groups had also planned anti-protests, Milwaukee’s march was peaceful. That is, except for a brief but startling fire that sent smoke billowing out into the crowd in front of VDLF. Just before the march began, smoke was visible near the building, but because of the crowd it was unclear exactly where it was coming from. I heard a few people mention the possibility of sabotage, but of course none of that could be verified right away and we moved on.
I stopped at the alley afterward to take a better look and found a charred dumpster. The Journal Sentinel released a quick blurb about the dumpster fire, but there was no mention of whether it was set intentionally in protest of the VDLF rally.
Saturday’s march is only the first step in a “peaceful, yet strategic” campaign to boycott Arizona until SB 1070 is repealed. More information here.