Activists trying to rally support for immigration reform outside Spokane City Hall got a rude welcome to the Inland Northwest this morning.
A young man walked briskly past the ongoing news conference and, with TV cameras rolling, muttered, "Go back to Mexico." He then continued toward the intersection of Post Street and Spokane Falls Boulevard and swiveled back to face the group, raising his arm in a Nazi salute and yelling, "Heil Hitler" before extending his middle finger as he scampered away.
The activists from Fast for Families ignored the racist antics and continued their rally, though one of the organizers later confided that while the group is accustomed to occasional heckling, the one-fingered Nazi salute marked a new low.
It also marked another reminder that while the Inland Northwest has made huge strides in confronting the region's ugly history as a haven for white supremacist movements, reminders still linger.
The activists are criss-crossing the country trying to drum up congressional support for the immigration reform bill that won approval in the U.S. Senate last summer but the House version has bogged down in that chamber. The group called on Eastern Washington residents to urge Republican U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Spokane to use her leadership status to let the bill onto the floor for a vote.
"We know that if the vote were held right now it would pass," said Rudy Lopez, who was among a group of activists who fasted for 22 days outside the U.S. Capitol to hep call attention to the need for immigration reform.
Joining the activists in a show of support this morning was Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart and several community members.