Friday, December 11, 2015

Protesters Swarm Mexican Restaurant Illegal Pete's Opening Night: 'Racists Enter Here' (SLIDESHOW)

Posted By on Fri, Dec 11, 2015 at 8:53 AM

click to enlarge MARIA INÉS TARACENA
  • Maria Inés Taracena

The now-infamous Mexican fast food restaurant Illegal Pete's opened Thursday evening despite protests and a petition, which gathered close to 3,000 signatures demanding the owner to "change the name or shut it down."

Community members are outraged over the use of the word "illegal." Critics argue the use of "illegal" in the name of a Mexican restaurant is racist, and solidifies a term that is often used to insult undocumented immigrants and many people of color. 

At the rally a small group of the 60-plus protesters (many of whom were members of the UA student activist group Movimiento Estudiantil Chican@ de Aztlán, or MEChA, immigration rights advocates and other allies), handcuffed and chained themselves as they stood in front of the entrance.

Upon entering, all restaurant visitors walked past a sign that read "Racists Enter Here." A couple of demonstrators took photographs of all of those who walked into the place, which nearly caused a fight.

Preparing for the big opening, Illegal Pete's staff had written messages and drawn symbols with chalk, such as peace signs and the restaurant's logo, on the surrounding sidewalks but protesters sprayed water on them and erased most with their shoes. 

The gathering began at around 5 p.m., a few minutes after the official opening of the place, and was still going past 8 p.m. There were at least four Tucson Police officers on the scene. An hour into the protest, the cops told the students who were chained at the front entrance to move in case there was a fire, or another emergency, inside the restaurant. 

I guess on the business side of things, Illegal Pete's was doing pretty well, because the line was long and tables were full. 

Owner Pete Turner says the "illegal" in Illegal Pete's was never intended to be used in a bigoted connotation. He hopes to work with the community and alleviate the tension. In the meantime, he just wants everything to remain civil.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Comments (48)

Showing 1-48 of 48

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-48 of 48

Add a comment

Previously in the Range

More by María Inés Taracena

Today | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri

All of today's events | Staff Picks

Staff Pick

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Cool Summer Nights

Beat Arizona heat and enjoy a family-friendly outing during the Desert Museum’s Cool Summer Nights. The stunning… More

@ Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Saturdays, 5-10 p.m. Continues through Sept. 2 2021 N. Kinney Road.

» More Picks

Submit an Event Listing

Popular Content

  1. The Weekly List: 20 Things To Do in Tucson In The Next 10 Days (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  2. In the Flesh: Tucson's March Against White Supremacy (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  3. HOCO Fest 2017 Countdown: Willis Earl Beal (AKA Nobody) (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  4. Song of the Day: Billy Sedlmayr Weighs in on Old FM Staple 'Rock & Roll Hoochie Koo' and Johnny and Edgar Winter (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  5. Laughing Stock: Late Nite Laugh Lessons (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)

© 2017 Tucson Weekly | 7225 Mona Lisa Rd. Ste. 125, Tucson AZ 85741 | (520) 797-4384 | Powered by Foundation