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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)

Dozens protest? Really Dozens? I can get more people to protest a price raise on a vegetable. Maybe even the LA crowd isn't against the AZ law.

Props to the Lakers organization for deciding not to use the Los Lakers jerseys during the playoffs and refusing to make any poltical statements on the immigration issue. If Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver spent as much time and energy building a championship TEAM instead of sending political messages and making political statements, THE SUNS WOULD HAVE PROBABLY WON AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP RING BY NOW!!

Maybe Sarver should sell the Suns and run for political office...

Response to "kanank":

Last time I checked, it wasnt Mexicans or any other non-Arab ethnic group who killed nearly 3,000 innocent Americans on 9/11, carried out a horrendous massacre at Fort Hood, or unsuccessly tried to blow up Times Square...

If that ever happens, and ONLY then, will you be justified in calling Mexicans "hypocritical" on the immigration issue.


"which allows authorities to check citizens for proof of HEALTH INSURANCE and fine them if they don't have it." [not from the article]

The "incendiary" and "controversial" matter here is the continued lies in the press about almost any measure that moves to provide some regular and effective enforcement of longstanding policies to check illegal immigration.

"which allows local police to check citizens documents and arrest them if they don't have them." [indeed from the article, but is an incomplete statement]

If were are to consider that statement and portayal of the law by most corporate media as fair and true, then that media should also say:

"which allows local police to check citizens for a box of cereal and arrest them if one is found."

"which allows local police to check citizens for a valid commerical drivers license and arrest them if they don't have it."

"which allows local police to check citizens for a valid concealed carry permit and arrest them even if they DO have it, and confiscate their firearm with little hope of it being returned even if they are acquitted."

"which allows local police to check citizens for proof of auto insurance and arrest them if they don't have it."

"which allows local police to check citizens for scrapes and bruises and arrest them if these are found."

False victims and racists may have skin of any color. Those full of hatred will search endlessly for an issue that serves as a vehicle for expression of their unjust anger.

Who put a man on the moon? Not Mestizos.... Go away, and quit bothering the white man.

How about everyone just back off and let basketball stay a sport not some sort of political movement. They do not need to express where they feel on the law. It is their own personal opinion and they do not need to answer to anyone on where they stand. I give the team Kudos for not making some sort of political movement and concentrating on what they are actually paid to do. THEY ARE NOT POLITICIANS!

Nice going Phil! California will pass an immigration law similar to Arizona's soon!

I've never cared for Phil Jackson... until now. At least there's one person within the NBA that has some common sense...

Go PHIL!! I may become a Laker fan...Go ARIZONA....These are the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA...not US of the WORLD...I got my country and have fought for it..What have you done for yours??

Try being a Latino and getting stopped by police because they suspect you are illegal....when you are actually a citizen. White people will never know how it feels to be targeted by authorities because of your color or because you carry an accent that is not American. In an attempt to weed out illegals, the legal residents and citizens get the most humiliated. And that is where I protest...the power given to cops to check your "legal" status because you are not the right color. 'nuff said. And....I, am black.

I don't agree with the law. In spite of that, I do agree with the idea of tackling immigration.I believe everyone is entitled to their own opinion, however, people should stop complaining or praising without understanding how this can affect the citizens of America. Everyone is agreeing or disagreeing through face value, its unfortunate that we have such ignorance in our country.

20-30 protesters actually showed up...what a waste of news coverage...

I wish all of your prayers one day would be answer and see you picking your own vegetables at a minimum wage and cut your lawns, clean your neigborths toilets, put a roof on your hause and do it for 8 to 10 hour daily on direct sun light. I just wish I live to see that and by this I not saying that you won't do it lets give you the benefit of the doubt but please look around you who cooks on your favorite restaurant we don't need to legalized everybody because there are some iligals that also pay taxes without a benefit but lets not get into details it is hard to say who really should get lagalized but not all of them are inmorals and poor there are even profecionals doing your laws as you read this don't make yourself be the ignorant that think they are all bad there is a lot of them that you can used or need lets not speak for what you read really think about you been taken away from your family that's not right.

good for jackosn. I'll support the lakers to win the title, even though i'm a celtics fan. Just so they can stomp the suns. oh, sorry. Los Suns

Last time I checked they were the Los Angeles Lakers, not the Mexico Lakers. Phil Jackson is a pro basketball coach, not a politician.
Entering the US without a visa and living, and working here without documents is illegal, the same as in Mexico, Canada and the rest of the developed world.
The Mexican American Political Assn. should be protesting Mexican economic and corruption, not US or Arizona laws and immigration policy. What would I look like sneaking into Mexico and then crying about them not giving me a break to live or work there. You don't see Canadians running up and down I-5 freeway in the middle of the night, do you?

When you get on a plane or boat to go on vacation or to work in Mexico, or any other developed country you can't get into the airport or ship boarding area without ID. With all the problems with terrorism, why do these people think that we will allow them to live here undocumented, just because they slipped across the border in the middle of the night? Like the DJ at the party says, you don't have to go home, but you have to leave here. Leave politics out of sports. GO PHIL! GO LAKERS!

All I have to say is go Watch that movie "A day without a Mexican" because that pretty much describes the state of California and how ridiculous this whole argument is over illegals. You know for some of you to complain about them you sure as hell don't have a problem with hiring them to Clean your house, Mow your lawn and watch your freaking kids. So if you want get mad at someone get mad at those who hire them and that includes yourselves you freaking morons...btw GO LAKERS.....

The team? What if some of the team is for the law and some are against. Seriously, the only team statement should apply to basketball. Everyone on that team is an individual. Instead of protesting, why don't they go file immigration papers and stay here legally.

threatening to protest, and protesting someone's opinion sounds like a kind of extortion.... "AGREE WITH ME OR ILL MAKE YOUR LIFE MISERABLE" a group of people threatening in this way, feels terroristic. your in my country making TERRORISTIC THREATS OF PUNISHMENT, because some Americans want to enforce an American law????? Keep it up please, your making your own case for why this law should be enforced nation wide. thank you.

a good topik to talk to!

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