imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Subscribe Calendar Publish RSS
latest news
best of news



CopWatch LA


A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List


IMC Network: africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech
printable version - js reader version - email this article - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

Minutemen, off-duty cops disrupt community forum on checkpoints

by Rockero Saturday, Aug. 23, 2008 at 8:12 PM

Community members met to express themselves on the topic of police "DUI" checkpoints, which really target immigrants. Minutemen and police hecklers disrupted the meeting.

Minutemen, off-duty ...
pomonahablaforum21aug2008.jpglmu9af.jpg, image/jpeg, 1215x1200

POMONA - Thursday, August 21 2008

Pomona Speaks/Pomona Habla, a coalition of community groups, held a forum to discuss police checkpoints and formulate an action plan.

Pomona Speaks/Pomona Habla was formed in response to the checkpoints, which have resulted in hundreds of cars being impounded, in most cases, due to the driver's not having a valid driver's license. Many of the city's unlicensed drivers are unable to receive a California license due to their immigration status.

The most egregious checkpoint was held earlier this year on May 3, when police set up a four-way roadblock at the corner of Mission Boulevard and San Antonio. The massive operation required the support of the Los Angeles County Task Force and police from neighboring cities. In response, hundreds of Pomona residents and supporters marched on city hall to denounce the excessive police presence. City councilmembers Cristina Carrizosa and Paula Lantz both witnessed the police action and made comments at the council meeting the following Monday. Carrizosa commented that the use of force reminded her of film depictions of the Nazi Gestapo, while Lantz characterized the events as "disturbing." During the city council meeting's public comment period, five people spoke in opposition of the checkpoint. According to the minutes, the speakers "expressed concern with the over reach [sic] of power by the Police Department, the affect [sic] on the children of the community, the undue burden on the business in the immediate area, the use of outside agencies and the loss of trust for law enforcement." Commentary in the media criticized the checkpoints for unfairly targeted the Latino community due to their timing (which coincided with the Cinco de Mayo holiday) and placement (near a Cinco de Mayo celebration.)

Carrizosa's comments proved controversial, and she was criticized by police chief Joe Romero, who called her comments offensive. The fallout continued the following week, when the president of the West Covina Police Officers Association defended checkpoints and further criticized Carrizosa for comparing law enforcement to the Gestapo. The comment also angered Paul Koretz, executive director of the Western Region of the Jewish Labor Committee, who criticized the comparison for "diminishing the real horror" suffered by the Jewish people.

Since the May 3 checkpoint, the coalition has been pushing for clarification of the city's policy and adherence to the law. The forum was held to give people a chance to express their frustrations and feelings regarding the checkpoints and to offer suggestions.

The forum was held at the Centro Promesa de Dios, a Catholic church in Pomona's historic arts colony. Attendees began lining up prior to the announced 6:30 start time to sign in and receive a copy of the meeting's agenda and the coalition's demands.

Two hosts, Mari Cruz and Raúl, welcomed us to the forum and then introduced Father Guillén, who led us in a bilingual prayer. Following the prayer, Al, a member of the Inland Valley Council of Peacemakers, sang an indigenous song, accompanying himself on a drum, to invoke the spirit of friendship.

Angela Zambrano, an organizer with the coalition, followed the song. She began by thanking the church and its youth group for helping to organize the forum and then recognized the coalition's member groups: Latin@ Roundtable of the Pomona and San Gabriel Valleys, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, Pomona Latino Chamber of Commerce, Gente Unida, the Inland Valley Peacemakers Council, Mexican-American Political Association, Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana, Brown Memorial Temple, and Saint Madeleine's Catholic Church. She then reviewed the agenda and asked if any amendments were needed. Next, she reviewed the demands of the coalition, among which are the inclusion of coalition members in the city council's subcommittee on checkpoints. At the end of her review, an audience member asked if she could speak in English. "Yes I can. But--but the problem is that we're gonna be-- it'll be-- we're gonna be here till midnight." She then summarized her speech in English and offered copies of the demands in English to non-Spanish-speaking members of the audience.

Zambrano was followed by José Calderón-Zapata, a professor of Chicano studies and sociology at Pitzer College in neighboring Claremont who also presides over the Latin@ Roundtable and has been active in the local immigrant rights movement. Calderón, translating for himself, summarized the coalition's achievements, including a commitment from the Pomona Police Department and a recommendation from the city council that checkpoints not be carried out prior to nine p.m., that they not be carried out in residential areas, and that the checkpoint of May 3 be investigated. He emphasized, however, that these gains were only a partial victory and that much work remained to be done. Professor Calderón then raised the issue of an appellate court's ruling that the section of the vehicle code requiring the 30-day impounding of vehicles of unlicensed drivers unconstitutional and the Legislative Legal Office's subsequent recommendation that suspects be allowed a certain amount of time to find a licensed driver to remove their vehicles from the scene rather than have them impounded. He also proposed pressuring the city not to renew the grant from the Office of Traffic Safety that funds Pomona checkpoints.

The floor was then opened up for testimonies from attendees. During the introduction to the open forum, somebody in the back yelled out that police were harassing forum attendees just outside. Then Professor Calderón framed the struggle against excessive checkpoints in the historical context of the fight for civil rights.

Hecklers in the back began yelling statements such as "Driving without a license is a crime!" A woman, unintimidated, took the floor.

She forcefully denounced racial profiling on the part of the Pomona police department. "It's not just the checkpoints. It's also the motorcycle cops who stop anyone they see who looks Latino to them," she said in Spanish. She went on to discuss the financial burden her family has suffered since her husband's car was impounded.

She was followed by Douglas C. Pierce, a Pomona resident who requested that his comments be translated into Spanish. Pierce supported the idea of checkpoints to counter drunk driving, but insisted that they also be carried out in the wealthier areas of the city. He also recommended that agencies specify the exact location of checkpoints. He also recommended that undocumented immigrants be issued a "B Social Security" card and pay $10 quarterly into social security. He further suggested that undocumented people be granted drivers license. Finally, he addressed the language issue, citing the first amendment as the legal basis granting people the right to speak whatever language they desire, and expressed his hope that conditions improve next year. His comments were then translated.

After Pierce, a man named Ramiro shared his feelings that the Pomona police department seeks only to protect all the city's residents, regardless of the race or color. He then expounded on the evils of drunk driving, mentioning a recent incident in which a Pomona police officer was hit by a drunk driver at three o'clock in the afternoon. "As long as we have people that are drinking, driving, under the influence, none of us in this entire room are safe," he explained. A translator then summarized his comments in Spanish.

Rosa then spoke, informing those gathered of the statistical likelihood of having a car impounded at a checkpoint, explaining that it was greater than the likelihood of being hit by a drunk driver. She also insisted on the importance of resistance and of refusing to be intimidated.

Rosa was followed by a woman who appeared to be African-American who questioned the use of the word "coalition" by the event's organizers. "As a citizen of Pomona, I'm trying to understand what's going on, OK, because it says 'coalition,' alright? I feel left out, because I'm a citizen of Pomona, I have subjected to these checkpoints as well, OK? 'Coalition' means 'We do this together.' I'm --I cannot offer my support if I do not know what's going on, and I really feel excluded in this meeting because of the language issue, OK? However, I am a concerned citizen. I believe in helping anyone's cause if it's a just cause, but I don't really understand what this one is."

She continued: "When I first got my driver's license, I was told, 'You have to have your driver's license with you at all times when you are driving.' OK? Now, I vote religiously, every election, alright? We vote laws in, and it is voted by the general public. And when we vote a law in, the police officers have an obligation to enforce that law. And the law says, if you drive without a license, you go to jail. Ok, now, I understand about the hardships and all, but we can avoid the hardships if you just have your license with you." She summarized: "I think the cause is misconstrued. OK? I don't understand the cause. I feel, actually, I feel like I'm being profiled. Because, you know, we're speaking Spanish, and I don't understand it, I wanna support, how can I support something I don't understand? I've lived in Pomona for 36 years. I wanna be a part of whats going on, but 'coalition' mans we're all included. OK? Thank you."

At that point, Zambrano announced that the woman would be the last speaker, but then, realizing that the translator was approaching the microphone, allowed the translator to speak.

After translating the comment, the translator herself commented in response to the last speaker. "The driver's license laws in California are a racist persecution of the community because people who are undocumented do not have the right to a driver's license." This comment was booed by several minutemen in the back of the church, who interrupted the speaker. "It is not possible to enforce a racist and unjust law in a good way."

She then translated her own comments. While doing so, she was interrupted by a man yelling in the back. I couldn't make out what he was saying but the general feeling was that it was somebody from the pro-checkpoint/anti-immigrant element that attended the event. "I think everybody has a chance to speak. You have to stand in line," responded the speaker.

Her suggestion was that Pomona devise alternative strategies for ensuring that people were driving safely in ways that would not penalize people for driving without a license, such as allowing them to provide proof of driver training. Again, she was interrupted by yelling hecklers.

At that point, Arturo Jiménez, a leader in the coalition, approached the group of hecklers and spoke to them. People in the audience began to pay attention to the confrontation rather than the speaker. People began yelling anti-immigrant and anti-minuteman slogans, and a man who appeared to be white held up a sign. I heard somebody yell, "He's a cop!"

Zambrano asked that people not yell, and explained that since people still wanted to talk, she would extend the forum for ten minutes and asked the remaining speakers to take no longer than a minute each. She then set the groundrules: "The people that cannot respect the rest of us, we're going to ask you to leave. And if you don't leave, we're going to ask someone to take you out."

A young man from Upland, speaking in Spanish, began recounting his experiences with the law, but people in the back continued to shout, rendering his story unintelligible.

The next speaker warned the crowd against "falling into provocations." Zambrano then announced that the provocateur was a police officer. Some people started chanting "Justicia," and a man was ejected from the crowd. (video) Forum attendees later identified the man as off-duty Pomona police officer Alemán. Commotion ensued, with activists squaring off with minutemen-types and apparently, other off-duty police officers.

Once order was restored, Professor Calderón returned to the microphone to encourage people not to give in to provocation, because that would accomplish the detractors' goal of shutting down the forum. While he was explaining this, Arturo Jiménez asked a group of four youths to step outside with him, asking them if they had used foul language or been rude to the minutemen.

Zambrano then announced that the remaining speaker were to offer suggestions.

The first was Adriana, a young woman who denounced Officer Alemán and accused him of harassing her mother just prior to to the actions of May 1. She also wondered allowed how people could be expected to follow the law when there was no avenue for them to do so. She also said that she was sure that the meeting would have been better-attended if people weren't so afraid to drive. She was heckled by Ramiro, the speaker who had earlier defended checkpoints, interrupted her. "I'm not gonna go that low to argue, OK? I'm here to unite my race, OK?" At that, the woman who had earlier spoken about feeling excluded stood up and shouted aloud, appalled. Adriana continued her comments, urging unity amongst participants.

Guadalupe then spoke about losing her car and the hardships she has faced since then.

She was followed by Jeff Pomroy. In heavily-accented Spanish, he shared his experience of being hit by an unlicensed, uninsured driver. While his family has recovered physically, the driver has not been punished, and he has not received any compensation for the damage to his truck. He emphasized that the checkpoints were not just for DUIs, but also for licenses. He then translated for himself. In his translation, he added that the coalition was misdirecting its efforts. "If you want to change this law, you need to change it at the assembly level, to say that it is a right to drive, and that you can drive without a license."

A middle-aged Mexican man then suggested that Mexican licenses be accepted.

Next, a woman told the story of her daughter being stopped for attempting to avoid a checkpoint, and then being harassed.

The next speaker, Hassan Alyassin, read aloud the fourth amendment to the Constitution. He informed the audience that there are strict regulations governing checkpoints, and accused the police of not following them. "Some of the checkpoints in Pomona have been against what the OTS grant because each checkpoint is to be conducted at a location that is the area of high-traffic collisions. Some of the checkpoints conducted in Pomona have not been in areas of high-traffic collisions." He then announced that he would run for mayor in Pomona, and that ending checkpoints was part of his platform. His comments were then translated into Spanish.

Father Guillén then argued that the law was just, but suggested that it be enforced without profiling Latinos. He also cautioned against municipal forces overstepping their jurisdiction to enforce immigration law. He touched on the "language issue": "The fact that we have people that speak Spanish, should not be something to be frightened of. Americans, when they go on vacation to other countries, they have to adjust to the language there. And I think that its important for us to be more compassionate or thoughtful about the language barrier. I think we can work through that, and it only takes a generation and a half to really overcome that if we're just patient, also civil, and respectful."

He ended with a warning against "politics of division." "They divide us into groups. [...] You see Hispanics and Anglos, you see African Americans. And I think this is a country that we've said we're 'Unum expluribus,' one country made up of many different people. Diversity is here to stay whether we want it or not."

He was followed by a man who stated that no official should be above the law. He compared the current abuses to the civil rights violations of the 1950s.

Next, a young man argued that barriers such as the lack of drivers license prevent people from reaching the "American dream." He then suggested that people alert one another of checkpoints through a network of text messaging.

An older man spoke on the importance speaking out and of unity for future generations.

Finally, a woman who had just returned from a visit to Utah related her experience passing through a checkpoint there: "There, there was a checkpoint too. And the police asked us, 'Have you drunk? Do you have any drugs? You haven't taken drugs?' No. That was all. They didn't ask us for licenses, for insurance, nothing. So we need to do this the same way in Pomona. We have to fight for this."

Calderón summarized the suggestions, which he had been noting on an easel pad. Then we were invited to join hands in a circle and sing De Colores.

The next meeting was planned for September fourth at seven p.m. and the meeting was adjourned.

Report this post as:
Share on: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

add your comments

Calderón urges calm

by Rockero Saturday, Aug. 23, 2008 at 8:12 PM

Calderón urges calm...
calderon-pomonaforum21aug2008.jpgyk4fcq.jpg, image/jpeg, 160x120

Report this post as:
Share on: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

add your comments

Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 9 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
Checkpoints are a Legal Gray Area mous Monday, Aug. 25, 2008 at 9:53 PM
hmmm what? Monday, Aug. 25, 2008 at 11:30 PM
What the fuck's wrong with that? Fredric L. Rice Saturday, Aug. 30, 2008 at 11:42 AM
f**k the 4th Rice on the 4th Saturday, Aug. 30, 2008 at 1:06 PM
A Constitutional Sick Fuck Here mous Sunday, Aug. 31, 2008 at 7:21 AM
Chill out Fred Rice Алекса Thursday, Sep. 04, 2008 at 11:54 AM
Minutemen, off-duty cops disrupt community forum on checkpoints casseysmith Saturday, Sep. 13, 2008 at 8:45 PM
expose Nazi roadblocks Alexander Nevsky Tuesday, Sep. 16, 2008 at 12:13 PM
Sir Chris Brown Thursday, Jun. 25, 2009 at 8:48 AM

Local News

Segregation in the City of Angels: A 1939 Map of Housing Inequality in L.A. A15 7:44PM

Justice Dept. seeking info, IDs on 1.3M visitors to protest website A15 1:04PM

San Francisco Rally Protests Hate Crimes in Charlottesville A14 5:38PM

New Google algorithm restricts access to left-wing, progressive web sites A02 1:52PM

Tracking Twenty Years of Stockton Killings by Law Enforcement A02 1:27PM

Garcetti Cronyism - Why and How to Ignore Your LA Dog License A01 5:05PM

Nation's Worst Meltdown Was In LA J31 4:54PM

As RV towing resumes in LA, officials say program won't 'target homeless' J31 1:15PM

Class War on the Waterfront: Longshore Workers Under Attack J21 10:18AM

Limits to Growth Published Forty Years Ago J18 5:15AM

KPFK's Indy Media on Air Now on Wednesdays J25 9:13AM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Stand Against Reem's. Stand Against hate. Stand Against Violence N22 11:10AM

Anarchie ou barbarie N22 2:07AM

The Driving Force of Global Inequality N21 6:27AM

Jewish Voice for Peace's Shocking attack on Latina activist N20 10:50PM

Fbi's dangerous threats N20 11:28AM

Report Back on November 18th Counter Demonstration Against Anti-Muslim March N20 10:57AM

Report Back on November 18th Counter Demonstration Against Anti-Muslim March N19 7:12PM

Ni patrie, ni frontière, ni nation, ni région N19 7:17AM

Statement on the Trump Visit to the Philippines N18 7:45PM

Capitalisation de l'egogestion egogérée N18 5:30AM

Three reading samples on George Orwell's "1984" N17 3:55AM

Syllogomanie N17 12:28AM

The Shortwave Report 11/17/17 Listen Globally! N16 5:05PM

Paraphysique de la collaboration N15 10:11PM

October 2017 Honduras Coup Update N15 9:23PM

National US Gov as wellas EPA slow to act on Abandoned uranium Mines Cleanup in Southwest N15 10:50AM

OUR HOUSE Grief Support Center Hosts 9th Annual Comedy Fundraiser N14 10:47AM

Republicans against the Poor and the Sick N14 4:16AM

Paraphysique du conformisme N13 11:25PM

Global Warming / Climate Change has Become a New Religion - What's it all About? N13 11:20AM

Crétinisme et jobarderie psychophysiologiques N13 8:21AM

Crétinisme et jobarderie psychophysiologiques N12 10:08PM

"The Public Trust Doctrine," Wealth Inequality, and Iraq N11 12:08PM

Anthologie de la subversion carabinée N11 1:20AM

US Executions Violate The 14th, 8th, and 1st Amendments To The Constitution N10 10:51PM

BUSTED: Watch LAPD cops plant drugs in black suspect’s wallet – unaware body cams were on N10 5:32PM

FBI suppressed exculpatory evidence in Leonard Peltier's trial N09 5:16PM

The Shortwave Report 11/10/17 Listen Globally! N09 4:19PM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2003 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy