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Hundreds of Tulsa's Hispanic community stage a protest

Hundreds of Hispanic protestors took to the streets in east Tulsa Monday afternoon and evening, with many business owners closing up shop to participate.

News on 6 reporter Omar Villafranca explains how they chose to express themselves.

Hundreds of protesters lined both sides of Garnett in east Tulsa to voice their support for immigration reform. Others engaged in a silent protest.

Ed Martinez runs an insurance business. Most of his employees are Hispanic and he gave them the choice to stay home in protest or come to work. All of them showed up at the office.

Martinez says it's time Hispanics in the community flex their economic muscles. "I think if we all just stop and think about how much money has come in from the Hispanic community, our buying power is in the billions of dollars. And I think that would have been a very interesting message if in fact everyone had stayed home."

But the economic impact could be seen elsewhere. Bernie Garza is an American citizen and just opened a restaurant in east Tulsa. He shut down for the day and took a hit in the pocketbook, but it's worth it to him. "I think the immigrants have some rights to come to this country and make some money and support their families."

Business owners like Garza and Martinez know this isn't the last time the Hispanic community will protest the immigration laws. But he thinks more businesses will pay attention, once it starts affecting them.

Ed Martinez: "I mean we're all over the place. You know who's cooking at Bodean's? Hispanics. You know who's cooking at PF Changs? Hispanics. You know who's cooking at Tei Kei's? Hispanics. It's going to effect them if the people don't show up."
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