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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)

Paid activists-see these jobs all day long on Craig's list. They aren't fooling anyone-Phil Jackson has a right to his opinion and the majority says "good for him" you might want to read the poll recently taken in the L.A. Times. Overwhelmingly, the public is behind Jackson-of course they don't want to boycott-the boycott's are coming back to bite Ca. the City of Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. Our immigration laws aren't broken, they just aren't being enforced. Nothing needs fixing-just follow the laws that exist-all will work fine.

Come on!! Just like these guys have the right to protest. He has the right to his opinion. My parents came from another country and they went through the right and legal procedures to become citizens. It sickens me how as soon as people cross the border they act like they deserve all kinds of benefits. Do it right and you earn the right to stay.

I am SO sick of this MINORITY out there crying about THE LAW! Public support is with AZ! We have to stop this! If you disagree with our countries laws, take the energy you would use to "protest" them and go and make Mexico a better place. Stop trying to pull the U.S. down with you!

Why should Lopez read the law? AG Holder didnt, but somehow says the wording promotes racial profiling. Anyway,there's only a small minority protesting. They are always projected as the majority because they are supported by the mainstream media and given a platform.

Phil Jackson sounds like he actually read the law, which is the same as the federal law already on the books. It's terrible that anyone who disagrees with the pro amnesty groups is being painted as a racist. It's about law, not race.

YES, you need your "papers"... everyone does. Even school kids are supposed to carry their school IDs why do you think they exist.

God, can these people really be this dumb, can they not read. Wow.

Legal immigration is wonderful, illegal gimmigration is horrible, and COSTLY!

Umm, with Mexicans who fail to renounce Mexico like our ancestors and the La Times, got news for you, the rest of us support protecting this country. Also, go ahead a boycott the Lakers, we may not have another riot. How many empty seats do you think they'll will be tonight? NOT.

Umm, with Mexicans who fail to renounce Mexico like our ancestors and the La Times, got news for you, the rest of us support protecting this country. Also, go ahead a boycott the Lakers, we may not have another riot. How many empty seats do you think they'll will be tonight? NOT.

phil is right keep polics out of sports. This law is in arizona not here so let the arizona suns worry about it. maybe this new law will keep illegals from driving with out drivers license and auto insurance. Then who has to pay if they hit and run. WE DO!!!!

It is in our first constitutional amendment, it states, " Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech..." Phil Jackson or anyone else has the right to express their opinion. It is the people like, Nativo Lopez, who is breaking the law. He is protesting and demanding that Phil and the Laker's organization agree with his position on the Arizona immigration issue.

I think the issue is not immigration, we are the United States of America, and this country was and will be built with immigrants from all parts of the world: The issue is ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION which is AGAINST THE LAW.


Okay,let's not get confused about what we're talking about.
Just because people have differing opinions does not make it wrong or right. I'm soo disgusted with all of the nonsense about this new so called immigration law, hello, it's been that way for forever. Police can stop anyone on the streets and ask for ID, if you don't have one,who's fault is that? Anytime we have a common sense law being questioned dumb people come out the woodwork. Does everthing have to involve discrimination, can't it be that it's just the law of the land. Phil's right, it just mimmics the Federal law. These people are commical, the thing is, they can voice some absurd opinions but wait until someone else disagrees and then you want to boycott the local basketball team. Get a clue nut, one is law, the other is entertainment. Thats exactly what happens when you mix apples and oranges,stay on the subject and let's not get carried away. You people are a joke, we don't all have to agree with you, that's just like all of the cows following the cow with the cowbell. Some of us really can think for ourselves, not every situation needs a feeding frenzy mentality. Go Lakers, with or without Mario Gonzales. (Nutcase, undercover Suns fan)

You know what would be interesting is if INS was outside of Staples tonight, how many people would be protesting then. You know to enforce the laws that should already be enforced.

Hey LA Times editorial board. You guys are so out of it, you don't even realize the readers you are pandering to don't even read the Times! Ha!

This has very little to do with the immigration issue. This is Phil Jackson taking pressure off of his players by becoming the center of attention. It's also the ulterior motive to all of his jabs at players and referees during the playoffs throughout his career (just this year: comments about KDurant getting free throw attempts, SNash carrying the ball)

Now all the slings & arrows will be pointed at him, not his team.

Phil knows that he'll ultimately be evaluated for his ability to get rings, not his political stances.

Shut up and play. Go Lakers!

I support Phil Jackson's view and opinion and the Federal Immigration law. What does this say about the morals of Nativo Lopez. We ALL as American Citizens have the right to support or not what someone else does, however as American Citizens we have a God given obligation to obey the "Laws of the land". Where does that put everyone else, and you can choose which side of the law you want to be on. We all do.

"There are nuances here that Phil Jackson perhaps is not familiar with. He’s an expert at basketball but not at immigration law.”

Exactly. Then why ask him in the first place? Heres why, they (activists) were hoping to gain celebrity support because to many idiots out there care about what celebrities think. They were hoping for support and it back fired big time.

GO LAKERS

The activist's put up a smoke screen by calling anyone that voices their opinion on illegal immigration a racist .What happened to free speech? If you have your papers you don't have anything to worry about.

Why are they even asking Phil Jackson about laws and political stuff??? IT'S BASKETBALL!!!

Phil Jackson is very wrong. I read the bill and I can tell you it violate the United States constitution and leads to racial profiling. Mr. Jackson is showing his racist side. SB 1070pramary target are the Latinos and everybody with morals and conscience will condemn this "Fascist law." This law will not solve the border or undocumented issue. We are urging the Lakers to stand against such racist law not to be pro or against undocumented immigration

Anu, couldn't agree with you more.

In addition, I do feel our federal government shows racists tendencies. What else would you call it when one race of people can break a specific law while other races are held accountable for the same law?

Who has been looking out for the people whos jobs were undermined by cheap, under-the-table payed, illegal aliens? Guys who supported their families by working construction suddenly were being undercut by 50% by illegals because they will live two or three families to a house and pay no income tax. So the American citizen construction worker takes a huge cut in pay in order to compete and still has to pay taxes. An added benefit to his decreased pay is that his kids now get a lower level of education as his work competition's children create larger class sizes and don't even speak the english language. Oh, he also gets a 6 hour wait in the emergeny room at the hospital...at least at the hospitals that can afford to keep their emergency room open. But on the bright side, we all get cheaper produce.

BOYCOTT MEXICO and everything made there...Phil was right on and so is Arizona...what part of ILLEGAL don't these folks GET ????

Finally! Someone needed to say it. This law has nothing to do with the Lakers, that girls basketball team in Illinois, or boycotting private businesses. This whole thing has gone too far.

Phil is awesome because he cuts through the b.s.

I think it is so ridiculous that just because you want people to obey the law you are called a racist. I support Phil and anyone else with their heart in the right place willing to speak out against this.

I am 100% behind Phil Jackson. The protesters are playing with fire here. Injecting inflammatory political issues into a Lakers/Sun playoff series is a bad move. It will backfire badly upon the protesters, who have only managed to arouse a nationwide firestorm on both sides. This has insured that any hopes of immigration reform are completely dead. The more the SB1070 protesters keep stoking the fires on this issue the more the American people harden their stance in support of stronger borders and stricter enforcement of our nations laws against illegal immigration. 10's of millions of nationwide Laker followers/NBA fans who are otherwise lukewarm on politics and immigration issues will be turned into instant fans of Arizona's SB 1070.

Why is when one makes a comment that is not politictly correct .A furror arises?
Even when Coach Jackson was right ?
Its time to check all basketball players Passport before every game.

 
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