Is Mayor Sanders a Racist?San Diego 04 Dec 2006 06:08 GMT
"Shame on you, Mayor Sanders! You bring shame to the residents of this city with your racists remarks," Sister Patricia told several dozen San Diegans of faith gathered last Friday in front of City Hall.
Their afternoon prayer vigil and press conference urged community residents to stand for peace, justice and human dignity and say no to organized violence and the violation of human rights against day labors, immigrants and Latinos in general.
Like the proverbial duck; if it walks like a racist, talks like a racist and acts like a racist, then, His Honor, may well......
Recently, Mayor Sanders appeared on the right-wing radio show of Rick Roberts supporting the minutemen “camp out” in North County migrant camps. In the two weeks since his appearance, harassment of the migrants and human right supporters has increased.
The city also allowed Jim Gilchrist of the Minuteman Project, a violence prone group of racists from Orange County, to use city owned land for a protest in mid-November. When was the last time the city allowed (much less offered) Cindy Sheehan use of city owned land near a military base to ask for peace in return for her son's life. While the city closes off city streets for the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. day parade, it offers these vile creatures space to spew their hatred.
Enrique Morones, of Border Angles, speaking at the vigil, decried the escalating violence against day laborers, migrant farm workers and increasing threats against human rights observers. "This city is going in the wrong direction," he said, "we are a community built on justice and dignity - yet, we are showing the worst of America's spirit."
He complained that Latino groups have repeatedly asked District Attorney, Bonnie Dumanis, to investigate and intervene in the attacks and aggression toward immigrants and day laborers, "yet nothing has been done."
A refusal to acknowledge the hatred and violence on the D.A.'s part, however, pales against the mayor's active participation and support of vigilante and hate groups. Several religious leaders who spoke at Friday's vigil, asked God to forgive the mayor, while others blasted him for conducting a "politics of fear."
Others suggested that the mayor, along with the Council's silence, is taking us backwards, toward the racism of the of the 1960's. The Reverend Art Cribs held out a prayer "for those who walk fearfully among us," while suggesting that through racist attacks "lives are hurt, spirits are harmed."
Rosemary Johnston, of the Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights, pointed out that "the lack of housing for migrant workers has become a tolerable evil in our community." She pointed to the recent evictions of migrant workers from their camps in McGonigle Canyon " raises important questions for all people of faith; to those who say, what part of illegal don't you understand, I say what part of injustice don't you understand?"
The November attack on the migrant camp was an ethnic cleansing attack on the most vulnerable of the immigrant community. Some 150 migrants lived in the canyon and worked on nearby farms. Howard Meriken, a local resident, stood up to the Minuteman and told them to get out of his neighborhood and said the migrants pose no problems. Also, San Diego police Capt. Boyd Long pointed out the areas around migrant camps experience no higher crime rate than other parts of the city.
The attacks on migrant camps throughout the county, increasing harassment of day labors near Home Depots with city police assisting border agents, the open support of supremacist groups and their actions by Mayor Sanders, paints a frightening picture of a city sliding into its own Dark Age of fear, hatred and racism.
The National Council of Bishops asks in their "Prayer for Immigrants and Refugees," to "free us from the fear of those from other lands. Teach us to share our gifts with newcomers in return, so that you may say 'I was a stranger and you welcomed me'. Come now into my Kingdom."
Could someone please pass this along to our confused mayor. I would hope to call him stupid and insensitive rather than racist. However, I could have sworn I heard quacking from his office on the cold, wind swept arcade last Friday - as the people of faith bowed their heads and prayed for justice and human decency for the "strangers among us."
Perhaps, our dear Mayor is more a "stranger" to our human and spiritual values than those simple folks out in the chilly, barren canyons just trying to work, support their families in distant lands and become whole persons in this fearful land we took from them years ago?