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Protesters, riot police clash over Arizona immigration law

By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN
  • NEW: Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer filed an expedited appeal asking for the lifting of injunction
  • NEW: Demonstrators arrested outside the office of Maricopa County sheriff
  • Demonstrators march from Capitol to cathedral for an interfaith service
  • Residents in Guadalupe form a human blockade of the town's main artery

Phoenix, Arizona (CNN) -- Opponents of Arizona's new immigration law clashed with police Thursday in downtown Phoenix in a massive display of civil disobedience over the controversial legislation's enactment.

Police in riot gear arrested more than two dozen people outside municipal offices as more than a hundred protesters blocked streets and snarled traffic, Phoenix Police Sgt. Tommy Thompson said.

Demonstrators from political and faith-based groups began to converge on Cesar Chavez Plaza about 8:30 a.m. Thursday to swap posters, T-shirts and opinions on the new law, which took effect Thursday in a limited form.

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton granted a temporary injunction Wednesday against some of the most controversial provisions of the bill, including the requirement that officers check a person's immigration status while enforcing other laws.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer on Thursday filed an expedited appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals asking for the lifting of that injunction.

To some, the injunction had the effect of tempering the demonstration.

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"I think it calmed a lot of things down and made it easier to breathe in this atmosphere today. I think there is more hope today, a greater sense of hope, here today because of the ruling. There's less anger," said 21-year-old Nicole Ramos, who drove from San Diego, California, to attend the demonstration.

As the crowd grew, so did the volume of the chants of "ole, ole, ole, ole... si se puede" and "hey ho, hey ho, SB 1070 has got to go." The crowd began to spill onto the streets and block traffic, prompting swarms of police officers to form flanks in an effort to direct them to the sidewalk.

Some attending the demonstration had indicated that they would not mind being arrested to demonstrate their dislike for the law.

"I'll show them what non-compliance means," Tomas Carrillo, 28, said earlier in the day. It was unknown whether he was among those arrested.

By the time the law officially took effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, the first demonstrators had taken to the streets to voice their opposition to SB 1070, which was signed into law by Gov. Jan Brewer in April.

In the small community of Guadalupe, about 10 miles outside Phoenix, residents of all ages formed a human blockade of the town's main artery, preventing cars and public buses from passing.

"This is a symbolic gesture to show that we will not give our community over to the sheriff's office. For years, people in this town have been subjected to the kind of racial profiling that SB 1070 essentially gives legal sanction to, and we are not going stand by and let it happen," said Andrew Sanchez, a lifelong resident of Guadalupe and community activist who orchestrated the blockade.

Dressed in T-shirts that said "Brown and Proud to be an American" and waving signs that read, "We will not comply," the crowd of about 50 remained for about an hour, until deputies from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office showed up and asked the protesters to leave.

"I consider it a success because we stood together as a community in front of the sheriff and didn't even have to get arrested," Sanchez said. "We are starting to get good at this."

About 4:30 a.m., an interfaith procession left the Arizona Capitol, chanting hymns and carrying religious icons bound for the Trinity Cathedral about two miles away.

In a prayer before the march, one of the participants said she viewed the activity as an opportunity to express gratitude for Bolton's ruling.

"We're using this opportunity to give thanks and prayer for what happened yesterday," said Isabel Galindo, who was born and raised in Phoenix.

Wearing a rosary made of red, white and blue stations of the cross, Galindo showed up at the state Capitol about 4 a.m., while others slept overnight at the Capitol in makeshift tents made from children's playpens and under tables.

"I think it's wonderful what the judge did. I was totally surprised, because so many people seem to support it. But now I hope we can stop it altogether."

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