May 5, 2010
Richmond plans boycott of Arizona
Posted: 05/05/2010 12:41:06 PM PDT
Updated: 05/05/2010 05:41:54 PM PDT
Richmond is joining a growing list of cities in denouncing
Arizona's new immigration law and boycotting the state until
the law is repealed.
"We have here a huge number of people who would be stopped
in the street if we had this sort of law in Richmond," Vice
Mayor Jeff Ritterman said. "We wouldn't tolerate it here; we
shouldn't support it anywhere."
The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night, with Councilman
Nat Bates absent, to oppose Arizona's law and bar city workers
from traveling there on behalf of the city. In addition, Richmond
won't do business with Arizona-based companies and will nix
any contracts it has now with these firms if it can do so legally.
Officials said Wednesday that they are studying how many contracts,
if any, would be affected.
The Arizona measure, which became law April 23 and was modified
April 29, touched off an emotional debate and deepened the
divide on immigration issues. It gives police authority to
check documentation and detain people they suspect of being
an illegal immigrant if that person is detained or arrested
in connection with another offense.
Supporters say it's a necessary tool where other measures
have proved inadequate. Opponents fear it will lead to racial
profiling of Latinos and other minorities.
In Richmond, Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and Ritterman sponsored
Residents urged officials to pass it, saying Arizona's law
sets a bad precedent and
would legalize racial profiling after decades of progress on
the civil rights front.
Resident John Marquez recounted federal immigration raids
here in 1991, including an instance in which a Latino-American
was handcuffed and detained because he did not have a green
card to show on command. The man had served in the Marines,
from which he had been honorably discharged.
"I fear that I — someone who was born in this country, someone
whose ancestors have been here since the 1600s — that I will
be asked for papers to identify myself that I am here legally," said
Marquez, a former City Council member. "I don't carry that
kind of material. I never had to. And yet because of the shade
of my skin, I may have to produce something or my family would
have to come defend me."
The Oakland City Council unanimously approved a nearly identical
resolution Tuesday night. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom
has stopped city travel to Arizona except for police and public
San Pablo is scheduled to consider adding its voice to the
opposition May 17.
Other cities, such as Newark and Walnut Creek, will steer
clear of the issue.
"We do not take sides, or make resolutions, on anything outside
of our boundaries," said Gary Pokorny, Walnut Creek city manager. "It
doesn't matter if it's happening in Africa or Arizona."
Staff writers Ben Aguirre Jr., Elisabeth Nardi and Tom Lochner
contributed to this story.