LAS VEGAS, NV — It is well known that you should never stand between a blogger and a free lunch, but at NetRoots Nation, all rules get thrown out the window if you’re doing it for a cause.
In a stunt organized by Los Angeles-based immigration activists, about ten conference attendees wearing homemade Immigration and Customs Enforcement uniforms guarded two doors to the lunchroom at the liberal political conference Friday, demanding that all white attendees show their “papers” before entering.
“All North European immigrants or people of European background must show ID,” shouted activist Will Coley as he stood in front of the entrance to the dining hall wearing the mock uniform, a gray baseball cap and dark sunglasses. “This is Native American land. If you’re not legally present you will be deported.”
Coley is a member of Detention Watch Network, a coalition of organizations that raises awareness of American detention and deportation practices. The display was in protest of the recent passage of Arizona’s tough immigration law that gives local law enforcement increased authority to check the immigration status of people in the state.
Any white attendees trying to get to the free box lunches inside were stopped, asked to show forms of identification and had their picture taken with a cell phone camera. Attendees of Hispanic or African descent breezed by.
“Um, I’m a quarter Hispanic,” said a girl with dark curly hair as she walked toward the door.
“Yeah, you’re okay,” replied Coley, waving her in.
While most conference goers laughed it off, not everyone was thrilled to take part in the game.
A tall white man wearing jeans and an Oxford shirt nearly pushed his way through while ignoring the shouts that he stop immediately.
“We got a runner!” one of the activists shouted.
While the game was all tongue-in-cheek (no actual bloggers were harmed or deprived of food in the making) Coley put on a straight face when he explained why he had organized it.
“Right now the people in support of the Arizona law are saying that it’s not about profiling. They’re going to check shoes and the way people talk and things like that, which is all code for race,” he said. “It’s really about targeting the Latino community in Arizona and making them scapegoats for the economic situation that’s happened there.”
So, he explained, white people should get a taste of what it feels like to be stopped while others go through without hassle. It really seemed to really work, he added.
“People were really getting annoyed,” he said.
WATCH: ACTIVISTS DEMAND PAPERS AT NETROOTS