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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)

have to agree with phil. i believe arizonans like any other people are by and large a decent people trying their best to deal with an extraordinary problem of crime and being overrun by illegal immigrants in their state. phoenix is the kidnapping capital of the world, innocent ranchers and border patrol are being killed, and arizona is becoming third world. don't judge arizona unless you've lived in their shoes. if the pro illegal immigration activists have their way, soon every state will be a sanctuary state. with hispanics projected to become 30 percent of the population by 2050 when theyre now "only" at 17, prepare to speak spanish soon, boys. the ironic thing is the country of mexico only believes in open borders when it comes to their people but when it comes to the immigrants south of their border such as the guatemalans and salvadorans, they are kicked out of the country so fast their heads spin. open borders is only convenient for mexicans for them to come to this country. but they're competing with americans for jobs and driving down wages and soon their children will compete with our children. look at the effects of the black plague on europe. there was an overabundance of labor so wages were low. but when the black plague happened, the excess of labor diminished and thus the remaining labor force was able to demand higher wages and move to the middle class. mexicans are the excess labor force that we americans didn't even ask for. also, the argument that america is a land of immigrants is ignoring the fact that the immigrants that have come to america have come legally. bottomline is: allow mexicans to come here illegally and soon the country will be the united states of mexico.

Phil Jackson shows his fascistic face. 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 1070 primary 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

have to agree with phil. i believe arizonans like any other people are by and large a decent people trying their best to deal with an extraordinary problem of crime and being overrun by illegal immigrants in their state. phoenix is the kidnapping capital of the world, innocent ranchers and border patrol are being killed, and arizona is becoming third world. don't judge arizona unless you've lived in their shoes. if the pro illegal immigration activists have their way, soon every state will be a sanctuary state. with hispanics projected to become 30 percent of the population by 2050 when theyre now "only" at 17, prepare to speak spanish soon, boys. the ironic thing is the country of mexico only believes in open borders when it comes to their people but when it comes to the immigrants south of their border such as the guatemalans and salvadorans, they are kicked out of the country so fast their heads spin. open borders is only convenient for mexicans for them to come to this country. but they're competing with americans for jobs and driving down wages and soon their children will compete with our children. look at the effects of the black plague on europe. there was an overabundance of labor so wages were low. but when the black plague happened, the excess of labor diminished and thus the remaining labor force was able to demand higher wages and move to the middle class. mexicans are the excess labor force that we americans didn't even ask for. also, the argument that america is a land of immigrants is ignoring the fact that the immigrants that have come to america have come legally. bottomline is: allow mexicans to come here illegally and soon the country will be the united states of mexico.

protesters need to get a life. the city counsel needs to get back to the unglamorous job of balancing the budget and laying off city employees.

The Hispanic community stood hand by hand with the African American when Arizona refused to grant honor to honorable Mr. Martin Luther King Jr. Phil Jackson shows his fascistic face. 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 1070 primary 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

I support Jackson for what he said and the Lakers for not taking a stand on the issue. Deport! Deport! Deport!

Amazing. These "activists" have no solution for illegal immigration and are always opposed to ANY attempt at addressing the problem, but they get their panties in a bunch because somebody has the courage to voice an opinion unpopular with the liberal line.

I liked the Lakers before - I LOVE them now.

So now your gonna be BULLIED, if you don't side with the criminals, who entered this country illegally! tell them to go to hell.....

Any time I have EVER been pulled over or questioned by a law enforcement officer, and at any time I have ever offered witness testimony, the very first thing I have ever had to produce is my personal identification, and I can't think of one time where I have NOT been asked for ID. I'm a blond haired blue-eyed caucasian...why should that be any different for someone else just because they happen to have darker skin than mine? Where is the discrimination?

These protesters are really out of line here. Let Phil coach the Lakers and be held accountable for THAT, and not for whether or not he personally supports someone else's political agenda.

No one is allowed to express their opinion in this country unless the are a left wing waco or here illegally

LETS GO CELTICS LETS GO!

Who cares what Phil Jackson thinks, or Ozzie Guillen? Who cares? The people have spoken, no ILLEGALs in America!!!! We know it's hard for these law breaking Marxists to grasp that we are a country of laws. They are going to be in for a rude awakening if they keep destroying our country.

I liked Phil Jackson before. I like him even more now.

As anyone who has traveled abroad knows, the United States is the one and only country in the entire world where a person who does not speak the native language and is not obviously a tourist will be asked to produce his or her passport and visa and if unable to do so will be arrested on the spot.

In Mexico, the penalty for the first offense for entering the country illegally is five years yard labor followed by deportation. You can (and will) be arrested in Mexico if you are found carrying product literature or other business materials and you do not have a work visa and you better get a good lawyer if you do or you will do a nickel making big ones into little ones.

As long as there are no racial profiling this law is legit. I

Disappointing. Go Lakers, Boycott Arizona!

WOW...Now I like Phil even more !!!

Bravo for the coach! Telling it like it is..at least he has the backbone to stand up against this illegal activist bullies....These people don't have a solid argument so they use hate and emotion to bully the American people

But Jose, why should Nativo read the Arizona law? The Attorney General of the United States admitted during his recent testimony (under oath) before Congress that he opposes the law even though he hasn't read it either. Facts? We need no stinking facts!

Enforcing laws is unconstitutional.
Phil Jackson is a marxist.

"THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

THEN THEY CAME for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up."

Go Phil!

The Arizona law is no more than a duplicate of the federal law in place except that the Arizona law allows to detain illegals beyond the border.

If you are truly an American than you should regardless of race support keeping people out who don't pay taxes and who drain on the resources that are reserved for legal US citizens

Thanks for being a voice of reason on this issue Phil! Your comments are accurate and reasonable. Thanks for speaking your mind. Go Lakers!

Go, Phil, Go!! Can't we agree to disagree? Why can't he (we) voice our opinions as them without being deemed racist? It's ILLEGAL to be here ILLEGALLY! It's that simple. If immigrants are here legally, they got nothing to worry about. I'm moving to Arizona, LA (& CALIF)is too wimpy, besides being broke

As a mexican, do I really want Nativo Lopez backing the cause? Do some background checks on the guy and you'll find some crazy stuff that guy did while working for the Santa Ana Unified School District.

Phil, stick to basketball.

 
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