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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)

“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.”

Right, and so because he's an expert at basketball, and not immigration law, why the hell does he have to "clarify his position" on anything to you? Why do you care? These pro-illegal immigration people are just way out of line, and starting to get really out of hand. How dare you try to bully someone into leaning your way for press purposes. If the man agrees with the law, then he agrees with the law. His agreement has no bearing on his job as a coach, nor do his opinions have any bearing on the franchise or team, since he does not own the team.

I wish you people would put as much effort into trying to suade your countrymen on the legal processes for gaining entry into this country, as you are in this righteous idignation campaign (for which you have no moral or legal basis)! This is the very reason that there is a proper channel to gain citizenship in this country; so that you must learn our laws. You're showing that you are here illegally because you obviously don't know the one about "Free Speech"!

The people in AZ finally reached their limit of kidnappings, foreign drug lords, and our ineffective federal government's enforcement of federal immigration laws. Can you blame them? Their state government is being overwhelmed by the costs, both human and financial, of unchecked illegal immigration. Like the movie, "Network", the people in AZ are mad as hell and are not going to take any more. Look for several other states to follow suit, particularly if the economy and job situation don't quickly improve. The US needs to:
1. Secure the border. All other discussions are moot until this is done.
2. Eliminate the reward of citizenship for children born of illegal immigrants. It is patently absurd that the US rewards illegal behavior with citizenship. As a result of the influx of so many illegal immigrants, the birthrate in the US is now approaching that of the third world. This birth rate is not sustainable.
3. Establish a realistic guest-worker program for seasonal labor needs. This will allow documentation, taxes, and workers who will return to their families after the seasonal labor needs are met.
4. Establish a path to citizenship for the illegal immigrants currently here. This can't be some sort of blanket amnesty. That would not be fair to all of the people trying to migrate to the US legally.

Just some thoughts.

Oh for crissake, people...HE'S ENTITLED TO AN OPINION!! We all are! Just because you don't agree with his opinion doesn't make him a bigot

"He’s an expert at basketball but not at immigration law."

So given that, why would anybody care what he or the Lakers think about a law in another state? Watch the games or don't watch the games, but get a life!

I am a naturalized US citizen, who came to this country from a spanish speaking country LEGALLY decades ago. I have never understood where the "right" to be here illegally came from.

It seems pretty simple- right and wrong. If I were here illegally it would be wrong. Protesting, claiming what isn't legally correct seems an insane way of thinking. Teaching that way of thinking to upcoming generations does them no favors- it's bullying, it's an entitlement way of living life with a false foundation. It will spill into other areas, it justifies bad behavior and the societal, as well as individual repercussions are greater then the benefit. Follow the rules and do things the right way. You can spend the same amount of energy getting your citizenship legally.

Does anyone know what the definition of "Illegal" is? I'm pretty sure the USA is a land of laws. You break the law... You pay the price. It really is that simple. It's called Equal justice. BTW does any body know what Mexico immigration laws are because they don't mess around when it comes to someone being there without the proper documentation. Maybe we should adopt their immigration laws.
My friend's mom is an italian immigrant that has to jump through hoops just to make sure she's LEGAL... So why the double standard. Why are mexican immigrants entitled to be here and not italian immigrants? Answer: They are NOT. They are here ILLEGALLY and in doing so they are committing a FEDERAL CRIME. Again I say we are a land of laws. If you break them you pay. If you don't like it... DON'T COME HERE!!! P.S. This is why sports and politics should NEVER mix. They are trying to drive a wedge between sports fans now. Go Lakers and GO Arizona!!!

So if the Lakers win the championship, should we expect two riots instead of one? Maybe they'll cancel each other out.

It is none one's business what Phil's or the team's opinion is on the law. Apparently Gonzalez has never been to a polling booth - it's private! Glad to hear the Laker's PR (John Black) hasn't responded - politics and sports are not related...for heaven's sake, sports help us escape from these sorts of topics. If you haven't read SB 1070, Google it...it's a whopping 16 pages and that's with the proposed additions - in big font no less. It's not something horrific like what these ignorant activists are claiming, which is why Phil doesn't see why there's such an uproar.

"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." The problem is that the federal immigration office (USCIS) often operates at a snail pace and fails to issue citizens documents on time. So meanwhile legitimate people do not have their documents and can get arrested in Arizona. SB1070 is a stupid law that invites a lot of lawsuits against government. However, the vigilantes and hecklers are having their day.

Phil Jackson is absolutely correct. Funny how these protesters are so ignorant of what he said and are trying to read between the lines as if he actually said something between the lines. He only does that for playoff mental posturing. If your a Laker fan, you'd know that, If not, it shows pure ignorance. We all must remember, we live in a State of cowards. California is full of weak pathetic humans who position themselves for their 15 minutes of fame and we all keep over reacting to this garbage. VIVA USA!

Phil Jackson is absolutely correct. Funny how these protesters are so ignorant of what he said and are trying to read between the lines as if he actually said something between the lines. He only does that for playoff mental posturing. If your a Laker fan, you'd know that, If not, it shows pure ignorance. We all must remember, we live in a State of cowards. California is full of weak pathetic humans who position themselves for their 15 minutes of fame and we all keep over reacting to this garbage. VIVA USA!

He should be pro-illegal immigration. How dare he suggest that illegal immigrants respect our liberal immigration laws! Maybe the Lakers will can him and he can come back to Chi and coach King James.

This issue is not about compensating those who entered the United States without the proper documentation. This is about standing against a racist law that will harm legal or not legal unless belong to a specific race. However, if it happens that, you are Hispanic; you will be terrorize, signalized, and will be subject of racial profiling. This law will not solve the undocumented immigration problems. Arizona police needs to focus in protecting and defending its residents not acting like federal an agent that is why we have a Federal Department. Mr. Jackson, show his racist face by his comments he said that the players are not involve in politics and he did exactly that. All what we (Latin community) against such awful law is that the Lakers to wear their Los Lakers t-shirt in support of the Hispanic and Latin Community. We are not asking them to march nor goes the White House demanding compensation to undocumented immigrants. The Hispanic community is urging Phil Jackson and the Lakers players to show solidity to their Hispanic fans. This law will bring serious human rights violation and several economic consequences that will affect all residents to Arizona, because like it or not like it; United will not stand without the valuable contribution of legal or not legal immigrants.

I think the lakers should forfeit the game against the Suns as a protest.

It would only cost them a few million but look at the statement they would make.

Vito

I hope they retroactively apply that law and deport all the family members of the Anglos who migrate as well - the southwest belonged to the native americans and the "mexicans" who migrate north.

Lighten up, people. *Coach* Phil Jackson, not Senator Phil Jackson or Governor Phil Jackson. So take his opinions for what they're worth, whether you agree or disagree.

Also...do you *really* think anyone is going to boycott the Lakers? People just don't care as long as the Lakers win a championship. Good luck on that one, Nativo Lopez.

Phil Jackson never said if he was for or against the law, he just said what he thought the law said, that it was the Federal law being enforced. I thought that in the USA we could have different opinions. Phil Jackson is right, this is a basketball team not a political organization and they do not have to make their political views public. Mr. Gonzalez should go protest in Mexico for more rights for Mexican people in their country so they don't have to risk their lives crossing the border illegally.

Leave Phil Jackson alone!!!! Let the man guide us to another championship. I'm Mexican American and I didn't find his comment offensive. That is his point of view and so be it. He is not out and about in support of the bill, he was asked a question and he answered it, done deal!

We Love Lakers and we'll always support our team, but man... those comments disappointed me!! Phil Jackson says Sports shouldnt be involved in politics, but he already did with those comments , supporting a unfair Arizona Law. well.. i guess an other racist in town!

The illegals are just going to make life worse for themselves, especially with the Laker fans as well as those who may have supported them but will be turned off by their continued bad behavior. They can't intimidate people into supporting their cause, which by the way is WRONG.

This is our country and we don't have to get your permission from outsiders to do what is right for our country and its citizens and that is to get the illegal people out. You have already done enough harm to our country. You have no right to protest here in our country clogging up our streets like you do our services and neighborhoods.

American citizens who are awake, know that your REAL aim is to take our country using overpopulation. We have seen your MANIFESTO which was posted here online where it states that your plan is to take back this entire continent and send the Europeans back to Europe.

Amen, Phil

Having traveled abroad extensively, I can tell you first hand that we are the ONLY country in the world who caters to it's immigrants by not requiring the immigrant to learn learning it's language, either speaking or reading. The "melting pot" that is referred to is just that: a melting pot - which in my opinion means that all ingredients melt together. We all come from different places, countries, cultures, etc. It used to be a source of price that you learned the English language and assimilated into the culture. So, if you despise the language, culture, way of life and America and Americans in general, please - go home.

What's next? We going to divide the NBA into pro-legal-abortion teams and anti-legal-abortion teams? Keep politics out of sports.

Any of these critics against the Arizona law even read it? If you are a legal resident, have an Arizona ID, Driver License, SS# you shouldn't have any problem. Everybody carries some sort of identification. I always carry my drivers license, SS card, credit card, car registration, insurance card etc. It is against the law for police officers to stop somebody just because they feel like it or someone looks "illegal." We can sue them for it and police officers can go to jail.

However, if you are doing something suspicious, then the police can question you. What is the difference of that procedure now??? You run a red light, what is the first thing the officer ask? You run from the police because you saw them, after they catch you, what is the first thing they ask you?

I'm getting sick and tired of people supporting illegal immigration. We need a reform, but we shouldn't support illegal immigration, you want to be in the Land of Opportunity??? Do it LEGALLY.

I APPROVE Coach Jackson's statement. I have never attended a Laker game before, but I will now. I don't want the Lakers to think they will lose money or attendance if the protesters try to use that venue to hurt them. Who needs them?

Even the Latinos that have endured the immigration process and have become legal citizens, even they don't like illegal aliens sneaking across the border and taking jobs and funding that would be used for legal citizens. Just because you protest or have ACLU behind you, doesn't make it right. This country that too many have given their lives for, is being over-run by South America and it's economical struggle. The lifeboat is full and sinking, when is this country going to stop using it's resources intended for those already here, that need it? Every crime, every most wanted criminal is dominated by someone from South America. After over 200 years of educating and cultivating a civilization, we are starting from scratch with third world citizenry filling our population. Don't believe me? Check America's Most Wanted, check FBI's most wanted. It's not you and me, it's them and them and them!

 
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