200 protest illegal immigration sign

Published 11:55am Tuesday, August 7, 2012

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Protesters from Austin, Owatonna and Waseca converge on Albert Lea

ALBERT LEA — Almost 200 people from across the region marched the streets of Albert Lea Monday night to speak out against what they call hate and intolerance toward the Latino community.

The protest, which began at a house near the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Front Street, moved west on Front Street to Pearl Street, where a controversial electronic sign, owned by Albert Lean Mal Prinzing, has been hanging high on the side of Dima Corp., 628 Pearl St.

Up until shortly before the protest began, the sign read: “Catch and Release — No!; Deport Illegals — Si.” Prior to the protest, the sign was changed to say, “Wise up. Check Dictionary, Illegal is Criminal.”

Protesters said the signs target the Latino population and create an unwelcoming environment for Hispanics in Albert Lea.

“There’s a climate of intolerance and hate toward the Latino people in Albert Lea, and the sign plays into this climate,” said Jeffrey Jurewicz, protest organizer with Owatonna-based Centro Campesino.

Jurewicz said Centro Campesino, a nonprofit advocate group for the Latino and migrant community in southern Minnesota, heard about the sign and decided to protest.

They spread the word via phone and other social media sites, and the people responded.

There were more than 100 local residents already participating when a busload of residents from Owatonna and Waseca joined.

“We recognize that Mal Prinzing has the right to free speech, but we also have the right to free speech,” Jurewicz said.

The protesters were young and old alike — and not all were Hispanic. They carried signs with messages of respect, dignity and even some scripture.

They marched around the block at least five times shouting, “Yes we can!” in both English and Spanish before walking up to the Iglesia Pentecostal Emmanuel church on Washington Avenue for an additional meeting.

Prinzing, whose business owns adult-novelty stores and circulates adult videos, was nowhere to be found; however, at one point after 7 p.m., a yellow plane could be seen flying over downtown Albert Lea, carrying the same message that had formerly been on the electronic sign. Jurewicz said the same message was being flown in Owatonna today.

Prinzing didn’t respond to requests to speak with the news media.

“We need respect for everybody,” said the Rev. Frederico Rivera of Iglesia Pentecostal Emmanuel.

Rivera said he has been in Albert Lea for five years, and two years ago he opened the doors to the church. People from many walks of life attend.

“I love the community, and I love the people,” he said. “All people, we are equal.”

Eleazar Duenez-Sanchez, of Austin, said his father, two sisters and two brothers live in Albert Lea, and he heard about the sign.

Though he did not have perfect English, Duenez-Sanchez conveyed his frustration with the sign and its effects on the community.

He has lived in the United States for 23 years and has worked for Hormel Foods Corp. for 11.

“I’ve lived here, working for my family, paying for my bills. That’s it,” he said.

Monica Hernandez, who was born in Austin and raised in Albert Lea, said the sign has had a direct effect on her and her family.

Hernandez said she and her children used to be able to watch movies on their back porch; however, now, every time they do, they see the sign.

“Your point has been made,” she said. “Now show some respect. … It’s effecting everyone in the community.”

Albert Lea 3rd Ward Councilor Ellen Kehr, who is also a member of the Albert Lea Human Rights Commission, came to the event mainly to observe.

“I am particularly concerned about the message we give our children,” Kehr said. “It’s about our children, keeping them safe.”

Jurewicz said Centro Campesino would be willing to organize a forum to discuss the different sides of immigration, but it has not received feedback back from Prinzing or others about participating.


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  • the12envy

    I wonder what it would be like to be part of an activist group that protests the fact that some people want us to follow our laws..

    Just think that yelling “DON’T OBEY OUR LAWS!  LET THE CRIMINALS STAY!” seems strange..

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  • http://twitter.com/austinbri austinbri

    Welcome to America, where we honor and respect free speach. Part of being an American is that no matter what you think of the message, you must recognize its right to exist, granted to us by our forefathers. If that does not sit well with you, then you can always leave and go somewhere else.

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  • highway105s

    Always astonished by peoples stupidity, In this case these  protestors.  I don’t see anything racist about the sign. The majority of illegals are mexican. Period. Thats the facts, sorry! All you protestors should quit wasting your time protesting americans freedom of speech and search out the illegals that are giving the rest of you a bad name. Search them out, turn them in, or tell them to get the heck out and come here the right way!  

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  • http://profile.yahoo.com/QHGVUFDVZZNAOJ7UDZEFK7BDDY DeanC

    “Jurewicz said Centro Campesino would be willing to organize a forum to discuss the different sides of immigration…” There are only two sides to immigration: legal or illegal, and only one of those sides breaks Federal immigration law and therefore makes you a criminal. If you don’t want to commit an illegal act(and thus be branded a lawbreaker and thereby made to feel unwelcome), then go about applying to immigrate to this country through the proper channels and by utilizing the correct procedures. I immigrated to the United States 35 years ago LEGALLY. What makes these people think they’re better than me and therefore deserve some sort of preferential treatment? Seems obvious that they’re the ones who are racist/prejudiced – against people like myself who obeyed the law and did not take on the attitude that I should be treated differently because I was “special.”

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    • robinked

      Amen!!!–Thank-YOU for doing it the Right Way….obviously YOU are an asset!!!

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    • http://profile.yahoo.com/MEZE5IL2KEGX5RLLRO4DW5C7Y4 Jan

      You said it so well–I agree with you 150%!

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    • jmdaniel

      Thanks, DeanC. My wife, who is Canadian, also has her green card, and I went through the process with her. If someone is not willing to do that to be here legally, they don’t have a leg to stand on with me. Discussion over.

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  • robinked

    Wow…I wonder if the owner of this sign is taking donations to keep it UP, indefinitely…??!!–I’d like to contribute!!—And don’t these ‘advocates’ that are protesting Realize that with Each & EVERY one of these ‘demon-strations’ that THEY Are offending American’s…..Talk about  ’Biting the Hand that Feeds You’–Sheesh, Clue-Less & Un-Grateful…..!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • the12envy

    This might be the best quote I’ve ever read in an article!

    “Hernandez said she and her children used to be able to watch movies on their back porch; however, now, every time they do, they see the sign.”

    So the sign somehow prevents you from watching movies with your family??  Unreal!

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    • highway105s

      Maybe its the guilt that is cutting into their tv time…

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  • leftthehatebehind

    If you read the article, not all the protesters were Hispanic and were of all ages… and I am sure most were not illegal as well. So it is their constitutional right to protest as well. Free speech goes both ways. You can’t get pissed because they exercise their right as well. 

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    • the12envy

      For me personally, I am fine with the protest as long as it is ‘Peaceful’.  I honestly think that most people feel the same way.  I may think that their protest is ‘silly’, but I certainly supprt it.

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  • saveourepublic

    We have two sets of laws here In America. One for American citizens,and one for Illegal aliens.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alicia-Kent/100002127988763 Alicia Kent

    Please join NumbersUSA.com     We stopped the last 8 Mexican amnesty’s tried by the filthy politicians!
    We have over 1 million members … the stinking politicians are scared of us.
    It’s free to join … find out what the traitor politicians are trying, you can send free faxes to the scum politicians…
    See what immigration bills are being snuck though to help the illegal mexicans!

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    • the12envy

      I have been a memeber of ‘Numbers’ for years and applaud all that they do!  It is something EVERYONE that cares about America and supports the laws we have should be apart of!

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  • zizzle1970

    I love how that person is holding a sign that says illegals paid $11B in taxes.  Guess what- at least half of that was refunded because of fraudulant forms!http://wastefraudandabuse.org/an-obama-administration-scandal-at-the-irs/ Strike 1: You crossed the border illegally.Strike 2: You filed a fraudulent form with the US Government.Strike 3: You took honest taxpayer money in the form of a fraudulent tax return.  Let’s find these lawbreakers and populate Antarctica with them.

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