Protests against and rallies for Arizona's new immigration-enforcement law went on as planned across the state Thursday, despite a ruling that blocked key provisions.
Protesters in downtown Tucson spilled into the intersection of West Congress Street and North Granada Avenue at about 5 p.m., triggering arrests and street closures. Demonstrators on both sides of the immigration debate had been rallying all day without incident before the confrontation.
Earlier in the day, a group of young men threw tires on Interstate 19, temporarily bringing traffic to a halt. Others put a white banner over the "A" marking "A" Mountain to protest a new state law targeting the ethnic-studies program of the Tucson Unified School District.
The immigration law, known as SB 1070, took effect Thursday without several provisions that were blocked by an injunction issued Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton. The enjoined provisions included a mandate for law-enforcement officers to check the immigration status of those they have stopped on other matters and not release those people until the status is verified.
Several hundred people carrying signs, chanting with bullhorns and beating drums demonstrated in opposition to the law throughout the day Thursday in front of the state building, at Congress and Granada.
Most said they were pleased with the ruling but that they still had concerns about the remaining provisions of the law.
"I'm pleased but not satisfied," said Lino Vasquez, a 25-year-old college student.
"We definitely have to celebrate this victory, but there is still a lot of work to do in terms of having human rights being fully respected in Arizona," said Noel Andersen, a ministry intern at Good Shepherd United Church of Christ in Sahuarita. "We are called to love our neighbors, and we have to do that fully, not partly."
There also were supporters of SB 1070 who were unhappy with the judge's decision.
"I'm very disappointed," said Renee Allison of Tucson. "It's a very sad day. It's sad that people don't support the law."
The activity began heating up in the late afternoon as protesters took large signs from the sidewalk into the intersection, blocking traffic and leading Tucson police to declare the gathering an unlawful assembly. Police arrested a dozen protesters who wouldn't move from the intersection. Congress Street was closed one block each way for more than an hour.
After Tucson Police Department officers in riot gear arrived to support a brigade of officers on bicycles, protesters retreated to the sidewalks, and the street reopened just before 6 p.m. The protesters continued to wave signs and chant from the sidewalk.
"They haven't heard our thunder yet," they chanted.
Among the signs: "We will not comply," "I just look illegal" and "Respect the rights of all people."
One other arrest was made earlier in the day. A man supporting SB 1070 was cited by police on suspicion of the threats and intimidation after he continued agitating two people, according to Sgt. Fabian Pacheco, a Tucson police spokesman. Officers had asked him to calm down before the arrest. He was removed from the area and taken to the west-side police substation. The man was cited and released.
TIRES, junk thrown ON I-19
Traffic on Interstate 19 was briefly disrupted south of West Ajo Way Thursday morning after protesters threw tar and tires on the roadway.
A group calling itself "Freedom for Arizona" said it planned to cover the southbound lanes of I-19 with tires covered in tar and broken glass to shut down "the very road that is used to deport people deemed 'illegal,' as well as a direct disruption of the flow of capital," the group said in a news release.
Law-enforcement officials cleaned up the mess and reopened the interstate, the Arizona Department of Public Safety said. There were no reports of injuries.
Andres Chavez was arriving home from school and said he saw the entire incident. He said two trucks driving parallel on southbound I-19 between Ajo Way and Valencia Road stopped, and tires connected by rope were thrown from the truck beds.
Eight to 12 men then threw brown paint, broken glass and a sign over the tires. The sign read: "Stop the militarization on the border." Then they drove away, Chavez said. "They halted traffic completely and almost got rear-ended by cars behind them," he said.
Chavez said he pulled the 15 to 20 tires off the road because he was worried that wrecks would occur.
"I have no problem with people protesting or whatever, but they were putting people's lives at risk," said Chavez, a 23-year-old University of Arizona journalism student. "There could have been a multi-car pileup there."
He described the tire throwers as men between the ages of 20 and 25.
In its news release, a group claiming responsibility said: "Neither SB 1070 nor the deployment of National Guard troops to the border do anything to address the root causes as to why people migrate.
"U.S. economic policies and wars have displaced and impoverished millions of people all over the world. Capital-driven policies, such as NAFTA, create poverty. These policies and laws not only consume and exploit land and people, but they also displace us from our homes, forcing us to migrate in order to survive."
The list of immigration protesters arrested Wednesday in Phoenix demonstrations includes Alfredo Gutierrez, a former state senator and former gubernatorial candidate. Gutierrez, along with Daniel O'Neal and Doris Perez, went to the federal courthouse Thursday morning.
The building is normally open to the public, but U.S. Marshal David Gonzales said the presiding judge, acting under the authority of federal law, placed the building and the courtyard off-limits to all except those with a need to go there.
"We verified that they had no official business here," Gonzales said. When they refused to leave, he said, they were arrested and charged with failing to obey the order of a police officer. Gonzales said they were cited and released.
Gutierrez had said last week that he intended to participate in civil disobedience, regardless of what Bolton ruled. He said maneuvers such as this are important "to inspire our own (Hispanic) community."
Phoenix police arrested several people who briefly blocked Washington Street. The site is near the offices of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has been part of the debate on the issue with his "crime suppression" sweeps that result in the apprehension of illegal immigrants.
Protesters delayed the start of Arpaio's 17th immigration and crime sweep, which started late in the afternoon.
Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services and The Associated Press contributed to this story. Contact reporter Brady McCombs at 573-4213 or firstname.lastname@example.org