Immigration reform march blocks Seattle streets

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by KING5.com Staff

KING5.com

Posted on June 23, 2010 at 4:19 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 23 at 10:20 PM

SEATTLE – Dozens of people blocked streets in Downtown Seattle Wednesday afternoon, calling for immigration reform before Seattle Police ended the demonstration by making more than 20 arrests.

Thousands of commuters were stuck in gridlock which snaked throughout downtown after protesters moved into the middle of Second Avenue.

Many are wondering why it took so long for police to clear the streets. Police say it just took time to get enough people and equipment in place to handle the situation safely.

Dozens of intersections were sealed off as traffic backed up from the Federal Building all the way to Belltown.

"Its very frustrating," said one driver who said it took 40 minutes to move one block.

"I support their cause, but I want to be home," said another.

By 6 p.m., most of the crowd had left, but about 20 remained in the intersection, determined to be arrested.

"America is better than this," said Pramila Jaypal as she was about to be handcuffed. "We need to be willing to stand up for families that are being separated across the country."

Jaypal is Executive Director of the group One America.

One by one, Seattle Police was arresting the remaining protesters who were escorted off the intersection peacefully.

The rally started as a planned event led by local social justice and labor groups to voice frustration over the slow pace of immigration reform, and to protest Arizona's tough new crackdown on undocumented workers. This is the second major immigration rally to block downtown Seattle streets in just over a month.

"The fear in the immigrant community has increased. It is time for the federal government to do something about our broken immigration system," said protester David Ayala.

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