Recently, members of the Neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement gathered in front of the Sandra Day O’Connor Federal Court Building in Phoenix, AZ to protest a federal judge’s decision to block several provisions of the state’s controversial immigration law, SB-1070.
Police had to interfere with tear gas and pepper spray when a group of counter-protesters clashed with the neo-Nazi march.
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This weekend’s march is yet another example of the increasing participation of white supremacist groups in the SB-1070 immigration debate. This past summer, the East Valley Tribune reported that that “[w]hite supremacist activity is on the rise in Arizona.” Bill Straus of the Anti-Defamation League said of SB-1070, “It does seem like the distance between what most of us would consider the extreme fringes of political thought and the mainstream of political thought, it seems like that distance has shrunk.”
It’s not surprising that SB-1070 has attracted extremism. The lawyers who are credited with authoring it are employed by an organization that has reportedly accepted $1.2 million in donations from the Pioneer Fund, “a foundation established to promote the genes of white colonials.”
The law’s sponsor, state Rep. Russell Pearce (R-AZ), has faced criticism in the past for cozying up to local neo-Nazis. He even endorsed one of “Arizona’s leading neo-Nazis,” J.T. Ready, when the he ran for City Council in the spring of 2006.
Meanwhile, a recent poll revealed that many Arizonans think the immigration debate has “exposed a deeper sense of racism in our community.”
Andrea Christina Nill