By John Earl
A coalition of immigrant rights advocates and union leaders has called for a boycott of Costa Mesa businesses to pressure the city council to cancel a plan that would train police officers to check the immigration status of suspected felons and report “illegal” immigrants for subsequent deportation. The group, which calls itself Citizens for Constitutional Rights, says that the city's plan is motivated by racism and is terrorizing imm
igrants living in the city.
The coalition made the announcement at a press conference on February 2 in front of Costa Mesa City Hall.
The group is also calling for non-violent civil disobedience “by not cooperating with police officers” and a mass demonstration at City Hall on April 1st by “all who cherish the Constitution” and will defend it from “malignant political forces who are purveyors of hate and seek to divide our communities,” said spokesperson Nativo Lopez.
Lopez is national director of the Mexican American Political Association and Hermandad Mexicana.
The “malignant” forces referred to are (Minuteman) Mayor Allan Mansoor and Costa Mesa city council members Eric Bever and Gary Monahan, as well as local white supremacist Martin H. Millard. CCR alleges that the four have worked in tandem to push a racist agenda directed at Chicanos, including the closure of a human relations committee that dealt with racism and a day labor center that served immigrants for 17 years.
The coalition also seeks to stop a similar plan by Orange County Sheriff Juan Corona, which the Costa Mesa proposal is modeled after. Both plans were watered down from their original design. Mayor Mansoor's original plan allowed for police officers to inquire for the legal immigration status of anyone suspected of a crime, even jay-walking.
The coalition announced that upon a request from many Costa Mesa businesses owners it has agreed to a 60-day grace period. In the meantime, CCR will offer signs proclaiming opposition to the “Corona-Mansoor Police-Migra Plan” to all Costa Mesa businesses owners. Those who do not display the sign in their store or office windows at the end of the 60-day period will be subject to the boycott. “The life of all will not continue as usual when the life of some becomes unbearable,” Lopez said, adding that Hermandad Mexicana hear's everyday from immigrants who are “absolutely terrorized” by what he called the Mansoor Minuteman Plan.
Replying to an assertion that the CCR will be picking on innocent businesses that might want to stay neutral so as not to offend customers on either side and lose money, Lopez said that neutrality is not an option for anyone when some face injustice. “Life does not provide us with the opportunity to be absolutely neutral...There should be not be any silent Germans in Costa Mesa,” he said, referring to Germans whose silence helped Hitler proclaim the criminality of people identified as Jews, gays, gypsies, communists and others and justify their subsequent mass slaughter.
The Nazi reference seems apropos considering the alleged past political ties between Neo-Nazi author Martin H. Millard, the Mayor and city council members Eric Bever and Gary Monahan. Humberto Caspa, a journalist who previously wrote for the Daily Pilot and currently writes for La Opinion, has followed that relationship closely. He says that Millard is behind the successful efforts of the Mansoor majority on the city council to ban adult (i.e. Mexican) soccer in public schools and close the Human Relations Committee (which supported tolerance and diversity in the city) without consulting the community.
Millard was the person of choice by the Mansoor council majority who appointed him to a redevelopment and community advisory board as a full member in 2004 and, as such, “has been a fundamental piece of rock in the Westside Redevelopment Oversight Committee” which makes recommendations that could affect the heavily immigrant population living there.
Caspa wonders why a white supremacist was every appointed to the board in the first place. “It's like President Bush appointing David Duke to the Department of Housing and Urban Development,” Caspa says. “It's not about immigration. It is about minority groups. It is about the people who have no say in this government. They don't want us here. Not only do they not want us here, but they also want to kick us out.”
Representatives of the following groups also spoke at the press conference.
� Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana
� Mexican American Political Association
� SEIU Local 1877
� AFSCME Local 3299
� UFCW Local 324
� Los Amigos of Orange County
� Federacion de Clubes y Casas Guanajuatenses
� Orange County Community Forum
Some reaction to the boycott call, in brief:
The reaction to the economic boycott call has been mixed. The Colectivo Tonantzin, which first started grass roots organizing in the Chicano communities targeted by Costa Mesa's immigrant rights crackdown has endorsed the economic boycott but will not become directly involved in activities conducted by the CCR. Instead, the Colectivo is currently conducting its own targeted boycott of council member Gary Monahan's restaurant business at 2000 Newport Blvd. It is also planning forums to educate the community about the ICE program, as well as a festival and march from the Westside to the South Coast Plaza. The Colectivo voted not to support the police boycott.
Almost 700 Costa Mesa business owners oppose the economic boycott but also have signed a petition calling for withdrawal of the ICE proposal.
To see video and hear audio of the press conference speakers, please go to: http://www.ocorganizer.com/html/boycott.html