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Activists protest Lakers Coach Phil Jackson's comments on Arizona's new immigration law

 Immigration activists gather outside Staples Center in response to comments by Lakers coach Phil Jackson.Activists outraged at comments made by Lakers Coach Phil Jackson that seem to back Arizona’s controversial new immigration law plan to rally outside Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles before Monday’s playoff opener against the Phoenix Suns.

“The way we look at it, Phil Jackson is supporting the Arizona law,” said Mario Gonzalez, a longtime Lakers fan and rally organizer. “That’s surprising. It caught us off guard. We want to find out where the team stands on the law.”

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/photos/uncategorized/2009/01/27/jackson.jpgJohn Black, the Lakers' vice president for public relations, did not respond to telephone messages seeking comment.

Sparking the furor are remarks made by Jackson to ESPN.com columnist J.A. Adande in which the Lakers coach seems to back the incendiary Arizona law, which allows local police to check citizens documents and arrest them if they don't have them.

“Am I crazy, or am I the only one that heard [the legislature] say, ‘We just took the United States immigration law and adopted it to our state?’” Jackson said of the Arizona statute.

The Lakers coach then disputed the columnist’s assertion that Arizona legislatures had “usurped” federal immigration law -- an allegation widely made by critics who say the law could lead to racial profiling of Latinos.

Supporters say the state law complements federal statutes and deny any intent to target Latinos.

“It’s not usurping” federal law, Jackson replied, adding that the Arizona lawmakers “gave it some teeth to be able to enforce it.”

Jackson, long known as a free spirit who in Adande’s words “has showed lefty leanings in the past,” also seems to chastise the Suns’ management for its criticism of the Arizona law.

The Suns’ owner and several players have publicly criticized the statute.

“I don’t think teams should get involved in the political stuff,” Jackson told the ESPN.com columnist. “If I heard it right, the American people are really for stronger immigration laws, if I’m not mistaken. Where we stand as basketball teams, we should let that kind of play out and let the political end of that go where it’s going to go.”

Gonzalez, the protest organizer, said Monday’s rally was not meant as a call to boycott the Lakers or root against the L.A. squad in its push to repeat as league champions. Rather, he said, the action is aimed at condemning Jackson’s apparent support for the Arizona law and clarifying Lakers management’s opinion on the matter.

“We want to know the team and Phil Jackson’s opinion on the law,” Gonzalez said.

Supporters of the rally said they wanted to give Jackson and the Lakers the opportunity to clarify their position on the Arizona law. Activists voiced the hope that both the Lakers and Jackson would follow the Suns’ example and come out against Arizona’s plan.

“We want to give Phil Jackson the benefit of the doubt,” said Nativo Lopez, head of the Mexican American Political Assn. “There are nuances here that Phil Jackson perhaps is not familiar with. He’s an expert at basketball but not at immigration law.”

-- Patrick J. McDonnell

Photos: KTLA News; L.A. Times file

Comments () | Archives (320)

Coach Jackson is right to back the Arizona law. Arizona is only trying to do what our illustrious federal government has failed to do.

I love Phil now! and the Lakers.

RE: “We want to give Phil Jackson the benefit of the doubt,” said Nativo Lopez, head of the Mexican American Political Assn. “There are nuances here that Phil Jackson perhaps is not familiar with. He’s an expert at basketball but not at immigration law.” Aha! And you Nativo are an expert on immigration law? Highly doubt it.

You break the laws of this country - you are a criminal. The only problem is that these weenies in Fed can't and don't want to control the borders in lieu of their own self preservation.

I'm done with all the protests! How about you protest breaking the laws, gangs, murders, drugs, human trafficking, prostitution, lack of education, inability to speak English, having 10 kids per family, sucking up the resources of the taxpayers. How about that?

Boycott the Lakers.

What--he's is not allowed to voice his own opinion? Next step: The "activists" will be calling Phil Jackson a racist, as they do with others who disagree with their stance.

The funny thing is Phil is right.

I think Nativo Lopez and all these activists have not read the Arizona Law. They should.

Speak out and you'll have a group of morons at your door protesting. All over a State law that does in fact mimic Federal law. Any excuse to allow illegal criminals into this country to further support for socialist issues.

Yes… Lets all have a free and open society that only allows an individual to express the views I think are appropriate.

Come on people, pick your battles. Why don’t you focus your energies into solving the issues at the heart of the problem (human trafficking, drug trade, crime wars…) instead of complaining about someone’s desperate, albeit arguably flawed, attempt to do it themselves.

Lead, follow or get out of the way.

Good for Phil. Taking the correct stand and being able to express his views and the explaining the law correctly.

Keep politics and sports separate.

They don't want to give him the benefit of anything. They want to put pressure on him to come out publicly and support them.

Why are they such liars and manipulators?

Lawbreakers are immoral. Illegals are lawbreakers. Illegals are immoral.

The law is a federal law if people don't agree with the law then why do we have borders?
Do you think the United States can survive without a border?
I don't understand how people could be against stopping illegals from entering our country.
I see why politicians need to be against this because if they stand up for Americans the illegals will vote them out of office in 5 years as the become legal.
If this group doesn't have to play by federal rulles shouldn't we all stop paying attention to federal law?
I guess if the illegal aliens feel they belong then the Americans should stop paying the taxes that fund these illegals.
Doesn't this seem like common sense?
WAKE UP people either get rid of all borders and taxes or enforce the current laws of the United States of America !

Phil Jackson is entitled to his own opinion and he is free to express it wherever and whenever he wants it. He doesn't have to agree or disagree with everyone just because he is the coach of Los Angeles. Would the Latino community protest if Arizona enacted a law to stop and question people looking like Arabs? Its a resounding a 'No'. Lot of hypocrisy. I was stopped in the middle of Mexico city and asked for my papers because I looked like an Arab even though I am a US citizen. Latinos need to respect the soverignity of US and Arizona.

If they had their way every night would be hispanic night and all teams would put "los" in front of their jerseys. Los Sol vs. Los Lakers?

I guess in the eyes of all the illegals that are here I am the bad guy and in the eyes of others I am a racist because I agree with the Arizona law. What is wrong with identifying illegals and getting them out of our country. I moved out of California because of the liberals running the state. Will the last American to leave Mexifornia please take down the flag?

Silent Majority.

Boycotts can go both ways. The majority of Americans publicly support the Arizona Law. As supporters become more vocal the percentage of supporters will increase as people afraid of the backlash come out in the open. I welcome the protestors now. They will help expose the fence-sitters and illegal immigration activists so I know who to boycott. So far on my list: any business based in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, San Diego and West Hollywood. Also on my list is any business that hires illegals or people who can't speak English (they are probably illegal).

I believe coach Phil Jackson said, basketball should stay out of politics. Perhaps Phil should follow his own advice, something coaches fail to accomplish on a regular basis. Go figure. Coaches fail to listen to themselves and expect their players to listen to them. Cause and Effect.

BTW, Arizona Law is racial profiling. Arizona is known for their racists attitudes in the past. An example from the past of refusing to observe Mertin Luther King Jr. national holiday like the rest of the country does with honor; except Arizona, the reason I left Arizona; another form of racism.


It's okay for illegal immigrants to break our federal laws, live in our country illegally, receive benefits and when a citizen of the U.S. says that they support a bill that enforces our laws, a protest is organized against them and they are called racist.

We are the fools for putting up with this garbage.

Phil is correct. Move on

@ Anu - crossing the border illegally is not a criminal offense, it is a deportable offense. Illegal immigrants, by definition, are not criminals. Get your facts straight. Moreover, freedom to protest is protected by the 1st Ammendment. Why do you hate the constitution?

1. Do you want to pay more taxes to support people from another country ?
2. Is it our responsibility to take on Mexico's poor?
3.Is it racist to try and protect a federal law?
4. Would Mexico allow Americans into their country with no questions aked?
5. Would Mexico charge it's citizens to teach your children in their native English language at a Mexican school?
6. Does Mexico give Americans full access to their healthcare system at no charge?
7. Should the money taken from your paycheck every 2 weeks go towards helping someone that is in this country without papers?
8. Do you give large sums of cash out to people you see on the streets, well really you do the government takes it from your paycheck and gives it to schools that teach in Spanish to children born to people who shouldn't be here
9. Why should we the American citizens pay for people from mexico, do we owe them something?
10. The money the government spends is money from your paycheck it doesn't just appear from the sky.

Oh my GOD. I found out that the man who makes the chemicals that supplies the man who dry cleans my clothes is in favor of this law. I'm going to boycott the chemical plant, and my dry cleaner, and I'm going to trace the chemical makers family and follow them around and blow whistles around them until everyone else boycotts them!

Seriously though. GO LAKERS!

The NBA, including Phil Jackson, should stay out of politics. However, I do agree with Phil's "opinion", the AZ law only allows AZ law enforcement do the job that the federal government won't do. I wish CA's politicians had the guts to pass a similar law like AZ. CA is quickly sinking into third world status because of illegal immigration. All people in the U.S illegally should be deported out. Then they can apply through legal means to reenter.

Everyone is entitled to their own personal opinions... political, social, or any other topic. I believe most people haven't even read the new AZ. immigration law, the media makes it too easy for people to be spoon fed information and in return we have a bunch of sheep out on the streets.

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