Group protests Arizona's anti-immigration law with Diamondbacks in town

A Citi Field security guard tries to tackle A Citi Field security guard tries to tackle a young man carrying a Mexican flag who ran onto the field in the seventh inning of the New York Mets vs the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball game at Citi Field. (July 30, 2010) Photo Credit: AP

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Two men carrying Mexican flags ran into the outfield during the seventh inning of the New York Mets’ game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday night at Citi Field.

The men were apprehended by security fairly quickly without much incident.

Prior to the game, protesters, nearly 200 of them, spilled across the streets of Flushing, past the taquerias, the mango stands and the soccer shops and all the way to Citi Field, with a message for the visiting Diamondbacks and principal owner Ken Kendrick back home: They will boycott Arizona and its team, including next year's All-Star Game, until the state's controversial illegal immigrant law is repealed.

Participants in the rally congregated near Manuel De Dios Unanue Triangle on 83rd Street and Roosevelt and marched the two miles to Citi Field, where they were met by more than a hundred more protesters, many holding signs asking passersby to protest the All-Star Game in Arizona next year. Others held Kendrick in contempt for making donations to state Republican candidates. The Diamondbacks issued a statement in April saying that Kendrick, one of 75 team owners, opposes the law.

The law, SB 1070, requires law enforcement to ask for proof of documentation from anybody they suspect may be an illegal immigrant. Federal judge Susan Bolton passed an injunction Wednesday that would block parts of the law, but the measure is temporary and, anti-SB 1070 activists said, inadequate.

"There's a terrible witch hunt against immigrants," said Teresa Gutierrez, who co-coordinated the rally as part of the May 1 Coalition, an immigration rights group. "We feel the government has to look deeper into its immigration policies. Immigrants are dying on the borders because they are hungry and don't have jobs."

Carrying signs that said "Boycott Arizona" and "Arizona = Apartheid" and another in Spanish pleading "Stop the discrimination, Stop the Racism," protesters said the law enforces racial profiling. During the game across the street, two men waving Mexican flags ran onto the field during the top of the seventh. One of the men made it all the way to rightfield before he was apprehended by security.

Ballplayers, too, have spoken out against the law, including the Mets' Rod Barajas and Carlos Beltran, who said he might not attend the All-Star Game next year if he is chosen to play.

"It's important to support guys like Beltran," said Freddy Bastone, 22, of the Bronx, who added that the law stacks the deck against immigrants trying to make a living. "This is a basic human right."

“It’s not going to distract me. I’m here to play baseball,” Diamondbacks interim manager Kirk Gibson said after his team’s 9-6 victory over the Mets. “You have an opinion, I have an opinion. They have the right to say what they want, but it’s no distraction.”

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