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MLB All-Star Game Fans Confronted by SB 1070 Protesters

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Members of the human-rights group Puente greeted sports fans with anti-Senate Bill 1070 chants and signs outside Chase Field Tuesday, as the Major League Baseball All-Star Game got under way.

About 100 protesters from Puente demonstrated against Arizona's immigration law while baseball enthusiasts filed into the stadium.

"In Arizona there is daily separation of families," said Puente leader Sal Reza. "Things are not as beautiful as [All-Star Game promoters] want to say."

Reza said that's the message out-of-state fans should take back home from what he called "Arizona's police state."

Puente had been urging a boycott of the midsummer classic, asking fans and players not to attend. The activist group insists SB 1070 is racist and hurts the state's economy. Its members believe a general boycott of Arizona is the best way to show disapproval of the law.

(Check out a slideshow of Tuesday's demonstration circus by photographer Kholood Eid, here.)

Last year, national pro-immigrant groups were on board with Puente, demanding MLB move the game out of Arizona. But MLB did not do so.

Since an outright boycott the game seemed unrealistic to some, Somos America, a Phoenix-based immigrants-rights group, asked fans and All-Stars to wear a white ribbon in opposition to anti-immigrant laws like 1070.

"SB 1070 is the symbol for hate-based legislation," said Somos member Letice de la Vara. "We've seen copycat laws around the country so this is still an issue that can affect [out-of-state fans] in their states. It's important to voice [our] objections to it."

Inside the All-Star Game, however, not a single player wore the white ribbon, and precious few fans were seen sporting it.

Some speculated that Adrian Gonzalez, the Boston Red Sox's first baseman, might don the ribbon because of his remarks against 1070 last year.

At that time, he said he would boycott the game if held in Arizona, but he took the field yesterday, and was not wearing the ribbon.

About a dozen counter-protesters gathered outside the stadium. There, well-known Phoenix nativist Barb Heller handed out red-white-and-blue ribbons in direct opposition to Somos' campaign.

"[Puente and Somos America are] trying to make it into a race issue, but it's never been a race issue," said Heller as she was offering ribbons to game-goers, a sign supporting Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in one hand.

Some fans expressed disapproval with the protesters and counter-protesters, while others ignored the demonstrators altogether.

The protests and counter-protests, though spirited, achieved little, other than the occasional heated dialogue between fans and demonstrators. 

Which, perhaps, is better than nothing.

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