Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thousands rally to oppose Arizona-style immigration bills

Posted By on Thu, Mar 24, 2011 at 3:44 PM

Thousands of protesters — yes, House Republicans, thousands — gathered outside the Gold Dome today to loudly oppose two controversial pieces of legislation aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration.

Chanting and holding signs with such messages as "No human is illegal" and "Stop racial profiling," the crowd urged Gov. Nathan Deal to veto whichever bill state lawmakers ultimately approve. (Police told CL shortly after noon that they estimated approximately 6,500 people attended the event. Republican state lawmakers pushing the bills said in a statement that only "several hundred supporters" rallied. View the video below and tell us if that sounds accurate.)

Between speeches by immigration advocates, Democratic state lawmakers and religious leaders, the Indigo Girls performed for the large crowd.

Both the House and Senate have passed their own legislative packages aimed at undocumented immigration. The bills would provide stiff penalties for people who transport or offer aid to undocumented immigrants and give police the authority to check a suspect's immigration status if the officers have "probable cause," among other changes.

Critics, including civil and human rights groups, say the legislation would severely hinder Georgia industries dependent on migrant labor and likely trigger tourism and product boycotts.

After the jump, some photos from the rally.

  • Joeff Davis
  • Police closed Washington Street in front of the Capitol to accommodate thousands of supporters.

  • Joeff Davis
  • "We oppose the legislation and have solidarity with immigrants," said the Indigo Girls' Emily Saliers. "We stand against the hate mongering and wanted to bring a song."

  • Joeff Davis
  • Congressman John Lewis, addressing supporters from the security railing, urged the crowd and activists to block the bill. "If any of you get arrested, I am willing to get arrested with you," he said.

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