Protesters stop traffic in front of South Coast Plaza

Immigrant rights activists blocked traffic in front of South Coast Plaza Monday to protest against Costa Mesa's recent "Rule of Law" proclamation and to call for comprehensive immigration reform.

A dozen protesters bound themselves with duct tape to plastic chairs while sitting around a table in the middle of the busy intersection of Bristol Street and Anton Boulevard around 3 p.m, blocking an entrance to the upscale shopping mall.

About 200 others chanted from the corners, some beating drums and waving signs.

Police officers blocked traffic in all directions and then arrested each of the 12 sitting protesters, who were bound to each other with tubes that had written words including "community," "immigrants united" and "workers' rights."

They chose that location, organizers said, mainly because the Costa Mesa City Council voted unanimously in May to declare itself a "Rule of Law" city, a ceremonial stance against illegal immigration. Mayor Allan Mansoor called for the resolution to say the city would not be a sanctuary for illegal immigrants.

"The leaders of Costa Mesa are keeping us from immigration reform," said Angelica Salas, 39, one of the protesters who was arrested. She sat at the head of the table, sweating under the afternoon sun. "They should be fighting for reform and not standing in the way."

Salas, the executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, joined many others who came from around Los Angeles and Long Beach to join the protest. Few were actually from Costa Mesa.

One local was Tommy Casarez, pastor for the Life Church of Costa Mesa, which he said serves many immigrant families. He watched the scene from one of the corners of the intersection.

"That declaration of the rule of law is ultimately siding with the law in Arizona," he said.

The city's proclamation came a month after Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed her state's controversial immigration law and during Mansoor's campaign for a state Assembly seat.

Calls to the Costa Mesa Police Department and South Coast Plaza's press office were not returned.

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