Avoid City Hall today.

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PHP4C51C1DC9DD03 Avoid City Hall today.

I think we ALL saw this coming.  If at all possible, avoid the area of City Hall in Phoenix today.  SB 1070 took effect and there are some bigtime “demonstrations.”  Since 10am, there HAVE been arrests.  Get more on the story by clicking more…

(Courtesy of Kevin Kiley, Brittany Williams, Derek Quizon and Michael Ferraresi - Arizona Republic)

Police are beginning to make arrests Thursday as more than a hundred protesters blocked Washington Street near Phoenix City Hall in a mass act of civil disobedience over the enactment of Arizona’s tough new immigration law.

Phoenix police riot teams moved into place after 10 a.m. and paddy wagons were brought in anticipation of arrests. One woman was accused of pushing an officer at the main melee at Cesar Chavez plaza and was arrested on suspicion of failing to obey officers.

// About two dozen more were on the brink of being taken into custody.

The protesters were chanting “Hey Ho, Hey Ho, SB 1070 has got to go.” They blocked the street, snarling traffic in the downtown area.

It was the latest of a growing number of protests against Arizona’s controversial new immigration law.

Earlier in the morning, three people were arrested outside the federal courthouse in downtown Phoenix, and opponents to the measure continued gathering in number in front of Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s offices a couple of blocks away.

Protests against Arizona’s controversial new immigration law are growing Thursday morning, as three people were arrested outside the federal courthouse in downtown Phoenix, and opponents to the measure gathered in front of Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s offices a couple of blocks away.

Protesters are banging drums and chanting, shouting, “Sheriff Joe, we are here. We will not live in fear.”

Former state legislator and activist Alfredo Gutierrez approached the federal courthouse around 8:30 a.m., and was arrested, along with two other individuals who identified themselves as Dan O’Neal and Doris Perez.

It was not immediately clear what charges they might face.

“The injunction did not go far enough,” O’Neal moments before getting arrested. “This movement is about more than 1070.”

Even though a federal judge on Wednesday blocked key provisions of the state legislation, known as Senate Bill 1070, rallies protests, prayer vigils and acts of civil disobedience are scheduled throughout the day.

The provisions of the law that were not blocked took effect at 12:01 a.m. Gov. Jan Brewer’s legal team is expected to file an expedited appeal of the judge’s order with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals sometime Thursday.

Protesters began coalescing around Arpaio’s offices at the Wells Fargo Building in downtown Phoenix around 8:30 a.m. Several different groups appeared to join together in that general area, with activists milling around in nearby Cesar Chavez Plaza and in front of Phoenix City Hall.

For most of the morning, the mood was calm, with occasional outbursts of chant and song.

But it was clear that law enforcement was prepared for any problems that might develop.

Phoenix police officers were posted at every street corner, and their squad cars and motorcycles lines the streets for blocks.

A group of legal observers from the National Lawyers Guild was also on site, providing protestors an opportunity to fill out paperwork with familial contact information, name and date of birth in case they got arrested.

“We want to make sure they don’t get lost in the system,” said Thomas Cincotta, of Boston, who said he was a researcher at Political Research Associates.

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday it is expecting acts of civil disobedience at several places around the Valley.

In a pre-emptive release, Sheriff Joe Arpaio said his office was bracing for “massive numbers of protesters” at the Fourth Avenue Jail, where all Valley agencies bring their arrestees for booking.

As a security measure, the sheriff has canceled public visitation at the jail and put all inmates on a 24 hour lockdown, beginning at 9 a.m.

“These irresponsible individuals (who) plan to create so much congestion around the jail that we cannot accept prisoners will end up prisoners themselves,” said Arpaio, who has beefed up security measures for himself and his staff.

This morning’s protests and marches began with a prayer vigil and march from the Arizona State Capitol to the Trinity Cathedral in downtown Phoenix.

The early morning march, which began at 4:30 a.m., started off small with just about 100 people, but has been picking up steam since then.

Opponents of SB 1070 packed the Cathedral for an interfaith service against the law.

Speakers at Thursday’s prayer service included leaders from various religious groups in the area, as well as activists and politicians including Gutierrez and Phoenix Vice Mayor Michael Nowakowski.

Josh Pawalek, a Unitarian minister from Connecticut, said that while he supported Wednesday’s ruling he still thought there was enough reason to get up early this morning.

“There’s still a lot of stuff in that law that we find inhumane,” he said. “And I don’t think Sheriff Joe is changing any of his plans, so we won’t either.”

The message of this morning’s service was primarily one of hope and unity, but it also included a dose of politics.

“SB 1070 makes immigrants the scapegoats for every ill in this state,” said Rev. Minerva Carcano, bishop of the Desert Southwest Conference of the Unitarian Church. “But ultimately what it does is it gets our political leaders off the hook for not having the will enough to fix the real problems in this state.” Faith groups have played a large role in the opposition to SB 1070, organizing protests, as well as a 103-day vigil at the state Capitol.

“In the face of fear that is assaulting our community, we must not be silent,” said Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, minister with the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Phoenix. “We must make it clear which side we stand on. We stand on the side of love.”

Organizers said the cathedral holds about 400 people, and there were few empty seats. After the service, the protesters marched to the courthouse where Gutierrez and the others were arrested.

The protesters are now moving on to Arpaio’s offices at the Wells Fargo Building, where they are expected to join the individuals who are already set up on site.

The number of protesters is only expected to growth throughout the day, as they are bolstered by supporters from other states.

Gustavo Ramirez, director of the activist group Phoenix Rising, said Thursday that 13 buses filled with protesters left Los Angeles this morning en route to Phoenix. They will be joining with demonstrators this afternoon, he said.

At least one positive event is scheduled for Thursday. About 50 people will become citizens in a program organized by the Phoenix Public Library Teen Council and conducted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The new U.S. citizens range in age from 20 to 73 and come from 24 countries.

David Gonzales, U.S. Marshal in Arizona, on Wednesday said there was some concern about protesters in the wake of U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton’s ruling.

“When you have situations like this, emotions are running high on both ends,” Gonzales said. “So the potential for violence is high.”

A spokeswoman for Puente, one of the groups that have been organizing against the law, said the group doesn’t view the partial injunction as a victory and believes the entire law should have been stopped.

“There is still a lot to be dealt with,” said Opal Tometi, a spokeswoman for the group. “This decision doesn’t get at the root of the issue or get at the concerns of the people affected.”

Tometi on Wednesday said the group is planning on going ahead with Thursday’s scheduled protest. Community activist Salvador Reza said at a Wednesday afternoon news conference that the community would not rest because of the injunction. “We will continue our struggle, we will continue our vigilance and we will continue our civil disobedience.”

Those words were echoed by Pablo Alvarado, of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, said “SB 1070 is on life support, but it’s still alive.”

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