Protesters chanted outside of a downtown Phoenix courthouse Tuesday afternoon in support of those arrested in July at a demonstration against Arizona’s immigration law.
People marching against the immigration law, commonly known as Senate Bill 1070, gathered in front of the Maricopa County Downtown Justice Center for a hearing to support those who were arrested in a protest on Jul. 29, the day the law went into effect.
About 65 people were in front of the courthouse Tuesday to support the defendants. Some chanted “Stop 1070, we will not comply!” while the defendants waited to go into court.
The hearings were the defendants’ chance to plea, and the cases will continue Jan. 4, said Opal Tometi, a community organizer for Puente Arizona. The group works for immigration reform and immigrants’ rights.
The protesters were arrested Jul. 29 while blocking the driveway of Fourth Avenue Jail in downtown Phoenix as part of a civil non-compliance day against the immigration law.
There were at least three ASU students who were arrested during the protests, and at least eight other defendants were at the court. The others sent their lawyers to represent them.
“We will plead not guilty,” said Salvador Reza, a Puente member who was arrested at the July protest.
While the protesters chained themselves to the building, blocking the driveway of the jail, the sheriff’s deputies dragged them inside. Reza said he was not part of the human chain but was nearby and was taken into jail with them.
The U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit against the Arizona law weeks after Gov. Jan Brewer signed it in April. A federal judge put a temporary hold on the controversial parts of the law a day before it went into effect. The governor appealed and the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held a hearing on Nov. 1.
Kathryn Crabtree, 29, who was part of the non-compliance protests outside of the jail, was also arrested, but had her charges dropped that same day.
Crabtree said she did not know why they were dropped, her lawyer just notified her that she was free to go. She also said that she did not regret participating in the protests.
“While we were sort of clogging up the jail, one of the [scheduled] raids did not take place as planned,” she said. “To me, that made it worth it.”
Arpaio had an immigration sweep planned the day of the protests in west Phoenix, but delayed his plans because of the protests at the jail.
Sonai Perez, a political science senior, was also part of the protest in July, but was arrested in front of a Wells Fargo Bank in downtown Phoenix.
Perez and the other protesters blocked the streets in front of the bank while holding a 20-foot-long banner that crossed over the intersection, she said.
Her trial doesn’t start until January.
Even though she knew she was going to get arrested for blocking the streets, she didn’t know she would spend 24 hours in jail for her charges, she said, but she plans to plead not guilty.
“Being with the other protesters [in jail], we all supported each other,” she said.
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