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Immigration rights activists protest outside L.A. courthouse

September 22, 2010 | 11:08 am

About 100 people demonstrated Wednesday morning outside a downtown Los Angeles courthouse where 33 immigrant rights activists face charges of civil disobedience for their protests against Arizona’s immigration law.

The charges stem from three demonstrations held earlier this year after the passage of Arizona’s law, which requires police to determine the immigration status of people they arrest for other reasons if officers have reason to believe those arrested are in the country illegally.

Wednesday's protest was held outside the central arraignment court near the Metropolitan Detention Center downtown.

Paulina Gonzalez, 36, was among those arrested May 6 at a protest outside the Metropolitan Detention Center. She said Wednesday morning that she had not yet been arraigned but had been told she and other protesters would face charges for resisting arrest, failure to disperse and blocking a public sidewalk.

Gonzalez leads the immigrant-rights group We Are All Arizona, which organized Wednesday's protest. She said she felt it was her duty to protest the Arizona law.

"My parents are immigrants from Mexico," she said. "I just couldn’t stand by and not do anything. If that meant civil disobedience, if that meant risking criminal charges, that’s what we had do."

Some of those being arraigned had been arrested at two other protests. One was staged May 20 outside the federal building in Westwood in support of the so-called Dream Act, a measure that would give some illegal-immigrant students the chance to earn permanent residency.

The other was on July 29 outside the headquarters of a private prison company that demonstrators said did business in Arizona.

-- Kate Linthicum