By Ben Fractenberg
MUNICIPAL DISTRICT — Police arrested more than 50 people protesting Arizona's controversial new immigration law after they blocked traffic on lower Broadway in front of 26 Federal Plaza on Tuesday.
Among those arrested were City Council members Daniel Dromm, Julissa Ferreras, and Brad Lander along with other New York-area labor and clergy leaders — all of whom wore buttons saying “I Am An Illegal Immigrant.”
“What’s going on in Arizona is anti-American — castigating people because they look different,” said Puerto Rican Bar Association President Roberto Ramirez, who took part in the civil disobedience.
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who was not arrested, spoke to a crowd of roughly 100 about his Latino stepfather before the group moved onto Broadway.
“He could find himself pushed up against a wall and his status as a citizen questioned,” said Stringer of the new Arizona measure requiring police to check documents of people they suspect to be in the country illegally.
Police could not immediately confirm the number of arrests, but organizers said there were 56 people arrested.
Approximately 50 yards from where Stringer spoke, five counter-protestors held placards with the anti-immigration slogans “Illegals Go Home” and "No Amnesty for Illegals."
“I’m against illegal immigration,” said man protesting with the group New Yorkers for Immigration Control and Enforcement who refused to give his name.
“They want to get everything for free without doing any of the work,” he said.
Andrew Whitman, 72, was visiting New York for the day when he passed the protest.
“They’re making a sacrifice for a good cause,” Whitman said of those getting arrested.
The protest was the third such act of civil disobedience against Arizona's new laws in New York City this year. The last protest in front of Federal Plaza on May 24 ended with 37 arrests. Another protest on May 17 resulted in 16 arrests.
“We’ve come here on different ships, but we’re all in the same boat,” said City Councilmember James Sanders, Jr., who attended Tuesday's protest but was not arrested.