Acclaimed actor Danny Glover, known for his role as Mel Gibson's cop sidekick in the Lethal Weapon film series as well as for his Emmy-nominated role in the TV movie Mandela, joined Mayor Phil Gordon today at the Phoenix Convention Center to denounce Arizona's new "papers please" law, SB 1070.
With Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox and Pastor Warren Stewart of the First Institutional Baptist Church in attendance, Glover spoke about meeting four undocumented mothers who will likely be affected by the law. He downplayed calls for civil disobedience and a boycott of Arizona, expressing the hope that Arizonans would find other ways to oppose the legislation.
"I have worked in the state of Arizona," said Glover. "I respect the extraordinary culture that is part of this great state. And I respect its people . . . I know that the people, the citizens here in Arizona will, as one filmmaker said, 'do the right thing.'"
Glover stopped short of calling the new law "racist," saying that he prefers the term "misguided," which was proffered recently by President Barack Obama.
"It's easy to throw out the word racist," he said. "It's easy to throw out the word boycott. Maybe some of the architects of the bill had in mind one particular thing . . . that [was] not the will of the majority of people in this state."
That last bit might be a debatable statement considering the fact that a recently released Rocky Mountain Poll showed that the new law, which requires police to check the immigration status for those stopped, arrested or detained, enjoys 52 percent support among Arizonans, with 39 percent opposed and 9 percent unsure.
No doubt Mayor Gordon was pleased to hear Glover downplay a boycott, as the mayor continues to speak out against the growing boycott of Arizona even as he condemns the law in the strongest terms. Glover pointed out that a boycott could end up hurting those it's intended to help.
"We find that a boycott sometimes does irrecoverable damage," stated Glover, "not simply to the image of the place itself, but does irreparable damage to those that are most victimized by this situation."
As Glover has been arrested on more than one occasion in demonstrations aimed at other issues, I asked him if he intended to get arrested himself at some point here in Sand Land.
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"You're asking me for a boycott," he replied. "You're asking me for civil disobedience. If appropriate, there may be citizens here in the state who may respond to that. But I'm not saying that right now."
However, Glover did express support for the Suns' wearing their "Los Suns" jerseys tonight in solidarity with Latinos, and in a statement against the law. Saying he was "proud" of the players and the owners, he also took a slight jab at state Senator Russell Pearce, who has said he will not attend tonight's game in outrage over the Suns' stance.
"That's unfortunate," said Glover of Pearce, "but he's made a choice, unfortunately too because I think this may be the Suns' year."
Interestingly, according to Mayor's aides, it's celebrities such as Glover and Shakira who are reaching out to City Hall for these press conferences and events. The next on the platter, though it's not confirmed yet, could be Grammy-winner Carlos Santana.