‘Penny tipper’ Espinosa is back to take on baseball’s Bud Selig over Arizona immigration law and All-Star Game

Bud Selig spoke last year during a 2011 MLB All-Star Game promotional news conference in Phoenix.
REUTERS/Rick Scuteri
Bud Selig spoke last year during a 2011 MLB All-Star Game promotional news conference in Phoenix.

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.

Nick Espinosa made headlines last month when he interrupted a Tom Emmer meeting with restaurant servers to protest the candidate's stand on immigration policies.
Minnpost photo by Terry Gydesen
Nick Espinosa made headlines last month when he interrupted a Tom Emmer meeting with restaurant servers to protest the candidate’s stand on immigration policies.

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.”

Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/10/2010 - 04:41 pm.

    He didn’t dump the pennies on Emmer, he dumped them on the table Emmer was sitting at.

  2. Submitted by Brian Hokanson on 08/10/2010 - 10:14 pm.

    Although Paul is right, and although it would have been cool if he HAD dumped them *on* Emmer, this story shouldn’t be about Espinosa. The issue at play here is not one personality or another, but the fact that a league in which 27% of the players are Latino is holding its festival in a state where having brown skin has become probable cause for harassment (and it already was that way before 1070).

    If MLB moved the game, Arizona would lose $60 million – a clear financial hit that would put significant pressure on lawmakers to do the right thing and dial down the hate. Boycotting Arizona is an important part of the current movement for basic freedoms for immigrants and all of us, and that movement is just that – a mass mobilization, not just a couple of personalities the media can make into celebrities.

    Come on down to the Graves Hotel and tell Selig and the other owners to do the right thing for their players, fans, and everyone – move the game!

  3. Submitted by Daryl Hanson on 08/11/2010 - 12:21 pm.

    So I am driving down the road in Arizona and my tail light is out. What happens when an officer pulls me over? He asks “Sir can I see your drivers license and proof of insurance?” Now if I don’t speak English or my English is so poor there isn’t a coherent exchange of information, doesn’t the officer have a responsibility to determine if I am present in the country illegally? Notice, the officer stopped me for another violation of a traffic law. This is what is happening in Arizona. The police officers don’t have the time or the manpower and don’t just randomly drive down the road to pull over Hispanics.
    By the way, the officer is applying a federal law that REQUIRES all legal immigrants to carry a green card.

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