As passing vehicles honked, a woman tilted her head back and shouted to fellow protesters, "What do we want?"
Sign-holding protesters downtown at West Congress Street and Granada Avenue yelled back, "Veto."
They were among more than 200 people who came to a Tuesday afternoon rally to demand that Gov. Jan Brewer veto a far-reaching bill designed to combat illegal immigration.
SB 1070 calls for local police, when "practicable," to ask about the immigration status of those they encounter as part of their regular activities. Critics say the bill would lead to widespread racial profiling.
Paul Senseman, a spokesman for the governor, deflected questions about what Brewer is thinking and whether she is willing to go against her own Republican Party. The measure cleared the House last week on a party-line vote; in the Senate, Carolyn Allen of Scottsdale was the only Republican against it.
Brewer has to sign it, veto it or let the measure become law without her signature before Sunday.
Brewer said Monday that she has "concerns" about some provisions of the bill and whether they might lead to racial profiling.
Divisions are clear
The measure drew deep divisions among Tucsonans.
"This is just absolutely ridiculous that a modern-day state like Arizona would take on this draconian stand," said the Rev. Keith Brennan of the Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church, who attended the protest. "It's embarrassing," the priest said. "We are here so we can stand proud and let the rest of the nation know that most Arizonans are not behind this."
The bill's architect, Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, said the bill is necessary because of the political failure in Washington to secure the border. The bill is aimed at what Pearce called "removing the handcuffs" from local police.
Peter Schmugge of Marana held a U.S. flag and said he came so somebody could stand up for America. He was among a handful of supporters of the measure who mounted a counterprotest downtown.
Dave Pruitt, holding a sign that read: "Save my job. Honk for deportation," said he came to put a face on people who have lost jobs to illegal immigrants.
"We are inundated with illegals, and they are taking people's jobs," said Pruitt, an electrician.
Protesters said the bill's language requiring that police make a "reasonable attempt to determine immigration status" if a "reasonable suspicion exists" that a person is here illegally would result in cops targeting Hispanics in hopes of finding illegal immigrants.
9 arrested in Phoenix
"That to me means skin color," Dan Martinez said. "If you look Mexican or exude Mexican-ness, that's enough. It sets the tone for racial profiling and further criminalization of people of color."
Tucson protesters - a mix of young and old, and of all ethnicities - weren't the only ones expressing outrage about the bill.
In Phoenix, nine college students were arrested on charges of disorderly conduct after chaining themselves to the doors of the Old Capitol. That followed a rally by various religious and community leaders about 75 yards away urging Brewer to veto the measure.
Separately, petitions with more than 83,000 signatures urging a veto were hand-delivered to Brewer's office.
The president of the state congress in Sonora, Mexico, Eloisa Flores Garcia, said Arizona would become an unsafe place for families and Mexican buyers, since the police would have the power to detain people just because they're suspected of being undocumented, according to El Imparcial newspaper.
U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., urged Brewer to veto the "unconstitutional anti-immigrant bill," saying that not doing so would result in severe economic penalties for the state.
He called on national organizations to boycott Arizona as a convention destination unless the bill is vetoed. He noted that a Super Bowl ban by the NFL Players' Association after the state refused to recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day was effective in changing the policy in 1993.
Earlier Tuesday, about 40 Tucson High Magnet School students walked off campus to protest the bill, Principal Abel Morado said.
Though the campus is normally closed, the students left as gates were opened for classmates who have permission to leave campus at the lunch hour. Morado tried to keep the students on campus by telling them to go to lunch or class but was unsuccessful.
No school escorts were provided to the students. They will receive an unexcused absence as a result.
Star reporter Alexis Huicochea and Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services contributed to this story. Contact reporter Brady McCombs at 573-4213 or firstname.lastname@example.org