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Protests continue at Illegal Pete's restaurant

Posted at 8:37 AM, Dec 10, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-10 10:37:17-05

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Demonstrators showed up in full force on Wednesday, protesting the Thursday opening of new restaurant Illegal Pete's.

"We feel it's extremely dehumanizing to our community of people of darker skin. We believe that no human should ever be labeled illegal.  We believe the term illegal assaults brown bodies and minds such as myself and everybody who's here today," said protestor Leo Herrera.

Herrera says demonstrators are calling upon owner of Illegal Pete's to change the name of his restaurant.

We spoke to owner Pete Turner last month, who said the name actually came from a book and when he started the restaurant in 1995, he meant for the name to represent a sort of rebellion against the man.  Turner also said the name is to represent his father Pete, who died from cancer in 1997. 

"I just thought it was fun really and really I thought it was kind of punk rock and a little mysterious and really was an invitation for people to come and look a little deeper," said Turner.

Turner says the word 'illegal' has become such a loaded word now.  

"If you did look a little deeper, just scratch the surface just a little bit, you would see all the positive that we do," he said.

That positive includes starting employees at more than $17 an hour, offering benefits and paid time off.  Arizona's minimum wage is currently $8.05.

Turner says he appreciates demonstrators standing up for what they believe in but he does not plan to change the name since his business does a lot of good in the community and the name is now tied to that work.