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Hundreds gather at Dodger Stadium to protest Arizona immigration law [Updated]

May 31, 2010 |  5:54 pm

A mushrooming group of protesters against Arizona's immigration law grew to a few hundred at the entrance to Dodger Stadium on Monday evening as the L.A. team prepared to play the Diamondbacks.

Shouting "Boycott Arizona!" and carrying placards reading "Boycott Arizona Diamondbacks," among other slogans, the protesters sought to gain the attention of fans driving into the stadium to watch a three-game series opener against the Arizona team.

Swelling the ranks of protesters were more than 100 members of the Service Employees International Union.

"The Dodgers have the largest Latino fan base in the league," said Mike Garcia, president of the SEIU United Service Workers West. "We have historically supported them since their move here in 1958. Now we are asking them to take a stand for us -- take a stand against this mean-spirited legislation."

The Arizona law compels police there to check the immigration status of those they suspect are in the country illegally.

[Updated at 6:10 p.m.: SEIU spokeswoman Hilda Delgado said the union had bought about 100 seats in the bleachers and planned to turn their backs when the first pitch went out and urged fans to do the same.]

Unlike other groups and municipalities that have been calling for various boycotts of Arizona businesses, the stadium protest was meant to be more educational, according to an organizer.

“We’re not going to stop them from attending the game,” said organizer John Morales. “They’ve already bought their tickets. We’re trying to make a connection between sports and politics.… The Diamondback team is not just from Arizona, the ownership has contributed to the Republican Party that has spearheaded the legislation.”

Diamondbacks managing general partner Ken Kendrick, a substantial financial backer of Republican politicians, issued a statement in late April saying he shared the Major League Baseball Players Assn.’s concerns about the effect that the legislation could have on players and lamenting that “this whole situation is sad and disappointing for all of us who are associated with the Arizona Diamondbacks.”

-- Carla Hall at Dodgers Stadium

Photo: Lu Cruz was among those gathered Monday at Dodgers Stadium to protest Arizona's immigration law. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times