According to lawmakers and staff at the Arizona state legislature, Trump supporters gathered at the Capitol Monday and singled out dark-skinned passersby as they demonstrated against congressional attempts to pass immigration reform.
Waving large flags in support of Trump while standing between the House and Senate buildings, the protesters, who were also armed, asked just about anyone who crossed their path if they “support illegal immigration.”
They called some “illegal” and told them to “go home,” barbs they reserved for those with brown skin, according to the staffers.
Some of the protesters insisted no one was singled out or yelled at for their skin color, but staff members told a different story:
Lisette Flores and Selianna Robles, policy advisors for Senate Democrats, said they were yelled at when they walked from the Senate to the House lawn, directly passing the Trump supporters, to get lunch at a farmers market. Three white coworkers offered to escort Flores, Robles, and Democratic staffer Dora Ramirez back to their offices, Robles said.
“We’re walking back, and they start yelling again, ‘Get out of the country.’ At that point, they pointed to Lisette, called her an illegal, and said, ‘Get out, go back home!’” Robles said. “But they pointed at Jane (Ahern), who works for the House, and they said, ‘No, you can stay.’”
Ahern, a policy advisor for House Democrats, is white.
Rep. Eric Descheenie, D-Chinle said he was also targeted after stepping in to defend a young student who was being harassed:
They asked Descheenie, a Navajo lawmaker, if he was in the United States illegally.
“I’m indigenous to these lands,” Descheenie said. “My ancestors fought and died on these lands. I just told them, ‘Don’t ask me that question.’”
Despite several accounts such as these, protesters maintain they did not harass anyone:
“We asked every rep, white or otherwise, if they supported illegal immigration and why they put the needs of illegal immigrants over the needs of American citizens,” [protester Jennifer Caminiti-Harrison] wrote. “Never at any time did we ask the representatives if they were illegals. Never.”
But footage uploaded from the demonstration indicates that protesters did in fact verbally tussle with passersby:
A 14-minute video of yesterday’s protest uploaded on YouTube shows several interactions initiated by the anti-illegal immigration protesters. Near the beginning of the video, one protester could be heard assuming that members of a group are staying illegally in the U.S.