When Sports and Politics Don't Mix: A Ballpark Near You

There’s a coalition of groups behind the anti-Arizona immigration law demonstrations taking place at ballparks across the country this summer, of which the most recognizable partner is

The demonstrations are part of a campaign, called and spearheaded by the groups Fenton and Presente, to get MLB commissioner Bud Selig to move the 2011 MLB All-Star Game out of Phoenix, Arizona.

The campaign is targeting baseball games across the country, with the most recent high-profile demonstration coming over the weekend at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. Four people, some of them carrying anti-SB 1070 signs, were arrested for rushing onto the outfield during a Nationals-Diamondbacks game. People also protested outside the ballpark. The protests were orchestrated by two local groups partnering with Presente, described online as a “Latino-led online organizing initiative.”

Carlos Roa, a campaign manager for Presente, said the decision to engage in acts that lead to arrest and the legal aspects concerned is solely the call of the local organization and the individuals.  The guidelines for organizing a protest provided on the website only encourage people to make signs and noise.

While the Arizona Diamondback games are primary targets of the protests and a link to the team’s schedule is provided on the campaign website, Roa said the demonstrations are beginning to happen at ballparks regardless of the Diamondbacks playing there. He said the protests will continue until the All-Star Game is moved.  They also plan to protest at the All-Star Game itself, if they are not successful at getting it moved.

If you haven’t seen the video yet from this weekend, check out the footage below. It’s clear from the commentary that the videographer, Hal Mangold, is not happy on purely a-political grounds. Mangold, a Nationals fan, told HUMAN EVENTs that he was sitting with a group of Diamondback fans during the filming.

“There’s a time and a place to protest and …you’re going to get nothing by doing this. I don’t care how you feel about the issue,” Mangold says on the video. “You’re not going to change anyone’s opinion who’s at this game.”

Tom Bridge, who posted the video on the site We Love DC, was watching the game from the press box and said initially the audience laughed the event off but that there was some applause as the protestors were escorted off the field.

Bridge and Mangold told HUMAN EVENTS they felt the protest outside the ballpark was appropriate – Bridge even called it “fantastic” — but that it shouldn’t have been carried onto the field. However, Mangold said that the people from Arizona he attended the game with weren’t fans of the protest outside, either.

Bridge said the protest didn’t alter his attitude to the Arizona law, which he is against, but in general he’s not happy with protesting that interrupts someone’s day.

“Those are the people who never win friends with you,” Bridge said. “At that point, it almost makes me want to kind of be an activist against your cause, if you’re going to be that impolite.”

When asked about negative reactions from fans, however, Roa said he’s seen both the negative and positive response to the campaign, and that Presente’s petition to move the game has collected over 100,000 signatures.

“We’ve seen a lot of support across the nation,” he said. Several MLB players have independently come out against SB 1070, though they have not affiliated with Presente.