When Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig and the industry’s other owners gather in Minneapolis Wednesday to celebrate the construction of Target Field and the newfound health of the Twins franchise, they won’t be able to avoid a pressing social issue: immigration.
And they won’t be able to dodge a couple of organizers par excellence, including one who recently made a splash in the Minnesota gubernatorial campaign.
Leaders of an organization called MoveTheGame.org plan to demonstrate outside the Graves 601 Hotel near Target Field Wednesday evening to urge Selig and other owners to move the 2011 All-Star Game from Phoenix because of Arizona’s controversial immigration law that critics view as racial profiling.
Among the local organizers of the rally, set for 5:30 p.m., is Nick Espinosa, of Minneapolis, who said MoveThe Game wants to hand over to Selig about 110,000 signatures gathered via an Internet campaign and on-the-ground organizing in cities nationwide.
You remember Espinosa, 23, don’t you? He is the DeLaSalle High and St. Olaf grad from northeast Minneapolis who was the theatrical protester who last month dumped a sack of pennies on GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer during a town hall meeting with restaurant servers. Espinosa’s guerilla “tip” for Emmer caused a stir.
“I won’t be carrying any pennies tomorrow,” Espinosa, whose father was an Ecuadorian immigrant who was deported, told MinnPost this afternoon.
A national organizer of the Selig-directed demonstration is Carlos Roa, one of the much-publicized four young undocumented students who hiked across the nation as part of the “Trail of Dreams.”
Roa, 22, said immigration rights groups are continuing their campaign to move the All-Star Game from Phoenix even though a federal judge last week struck down portions of the Arizona law. He wants it to be completely revoked.
Roa said in an interview that he’s a baseball fan and understands that forcing the relocation of the All-Star Game — a showcase event for Major League Baseball and a host city — “would significantly hurt the state [Arizona] economically, and that is the objective. We want to send a message that other states should not enact the same kind of law.”
Opponents of the law attempted to present Selig with these same petitions in Anaheim last month during the 2010 All-Star Game, but they couldn’t gain access to Selig. Protesters have also appeared outside of Selig’s Milwaukee offices.
In Anaheim, Selig told reporters: “We’re socially active on every front … We’ll do things when baseball can influence decisions. … This situation will be solved in the political process at the appropriate time.”
But Roa disagrees. He believes baseball has the power to move the game and affect the overall debate.
“I’m undocumented,” he said. “If this game is played in Arizona and if I were there with my friends, I could get racially profiled. It’s still occurring.”