Sanctuary opponents travel from town to town, screaming an agenda - http://travelporn.info | luxury travel sitesApril 13, 2018 1:57 am
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They are proudly pro-Trump and anti-sanctuary. And right now, as they travel from city to city in Southern California, waving flags and speaking out, their voices are being heard.
If the faces look familiar, it’s because they are.
They are a group of about 20 people – sometimes more – from throughout Southern California who, in recent weeks, have been turning out for multiple city council debates to loudly voice their support for anti-sanctuary measures.
They are a diverse group, including white, Latino, Asian, and at least one African American. But such labels are secondary, they say; they are Americans first.
They talk proudly about the rule of law and patriotism. But on their own videos, which they share on social media, they also use insults and anti-Semitic language. And they sometimes single out people on the other side of the sanctuary debate with words and behavior that border on threats.
They don’t have an official name. One Huntington Beach resident called them “The Hate Circus,” though the demonstrators prefer monikers like “Patriot’s Tour.”
In many of the communities – from West Covina to Los Alamitos to Escondido, where leaders have considered actions to oppose the state’s so-called sanctuary laws – they’ve been called “outsiders.”
“You all are taking my city hostage,” said Guerline Jozel, a 20-year-resident of Aliso Viejo, as she spoke to a crowd jammed outside city hall. Jozel, like many others that night, couldn’t get into the council meeting because of the overflow crowd.
The anti-sanctuary activists aren’t the only outsiders. The pro-immigrant side also taps social media to rally support at council meetings.
Both sides have engaged in bickering and, at times, a videotaping war of sorts, where they simultaneously pull out cell phones and record each other speaking – or yelling.
Some voices, however, have proven to be louder than others.
The sanctuary debates have become high drama, drawing TV crews and tens of thousands of social media comments. Mayors in city after city have had to admonish speakers – outsiders, often, but residents as well – to respect the rules of public gatherings and each other.
At most if not all the meetings, the rhetoric prompts police attention.
In West Covina, video of the April 3 council meeting shows police escorting state Sen. Kevin de León – author of SB-54, the state law that limits police cooperation with federal immigration efforts – out of the chamber. As de León left, members of the crowd, including many who are part of competing outsider groups, swapped chants of “si se puede” (“yes we can”) and “lock him up.”
De León said he was unfazed.
“They’re the same people who visit me in Sacramento and in my district office, and follow me,” de León said Thursday.
“Sometimes, it feels like we have this show,” he added. “They disrupt me. They film this whole thing. And they put it on YouTube.”
The senator from Los Angeles has a name for these followers: “I call them my roadies.”
Concurrent change of “si se puede” and “lock him up” as @kdeleon exits the West Covina City Council chambers. I’ll upload the complete video of his speech when I get a chance. pic.twitter.com/2GoRHTYWOS
— Christopher Yee (@ChrisMYee) April 4, 2018
The rhetoric isn’t always aimed at public officials.
During the Huntington Beach council meeting of April 2, the crowd heckled the speakers. There were accusations of racism on both sides and, in at least one instance, anti-Semitic comments directed at a local rabbi by someone who doesn’t like sanctuary laws.
Councilwoman Barbara Delgleize described herself as “heartbroken” by what she heard and saw.
“I have lived in this city for 45 years and I have never seen people speak out against their fellow neighbor and man,” Delgleize, her voice trembling, as she addressed the raucous audience after the night’s last speaker stepped away from the podium.
“It makes me very sad that it’s so vicious.”
Delgleize said later that the “vile words” largely came from out-of-towners. Still, while she didn’t agree with that part of their message, Delgleize did vote in their favor, supporting a resolution to have her city file a lawsuit against the state of California over SB-54.
Robin Hvidston, who heads We the People Rising, an active anti-illegal immigration group based in Claremont, said she and similar-minded activists have been unfairly labeled as racists. And the use of labels, including “hate circus,” is, she said, demeaning to the many who simply believe in following the law, including immigration laws.
“I felt they showed hatred toward those of us who want laws enforced. They feel like attacking us is their game,” Hvidston said.
“Which is the hate group?”
“THIS IS REAL ACTIVISM”
Some carry megaphones. Others don’t need to.
“You are protecting criminals. Shame!” screamed a sanctuary opponent who identifies on his Facebook page as Harim Uzziel.
Following a council meeting in Westminster Wednesday night, Uzziel swapped congratulatory messages with those who agreed with him and berated those who didn’t. In a video that he took and posted live online, he is seen verbally accosting a rabbi.
As the Westminster event ended, around midnight, Uzziel continued videotaping himself, walking close to sanctuary advocates and repeatedly screaming the word “losers.”
One man said to him: “Hey, listen, are you trying to incite a riot?”
Uzziel later screamed out: “This is real activism.”
Arthur Schaper, of Torrance, is unapologetic when he calls sanctuary supporters “brown Nazis.”
Schaper, a former teacher turned activist, is hitting nearly every community considering opposing California’s sanctuary stance.
It can be a busy business. On April 3, Schaper went from a Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting (where the talk was about the U.S. Census excluding non-citizens) to a council meeting in San Juan Capistrano, to another meeting in Fountain Valley followed, finally, by a trip to a meeting in West Covina.
“That’s how committed I am to this,” said Schaper, who routinely videos his encounters.
At a recent council meeting in Orange, he notched two wins. First, the city voted in favor of an anti-sanctuary resolution. Second, he said, “I didn’t get in a fight. I didn’t get arrested. And they didn’t have to talk with me once.”
Schaper said he’s thrilled so many are turning out to support his cause.
“I think we’re making a difference,” he said.
Indeed, anti-sanctuary voices might be swaying the discussion.
To date, Fullerton is one of the few cities in Southern California to put a sanctuary proposal on its council agenda but then vote against taking a stance.
It was also a city council meeting where anti-sanctuary activists didn’t turn up en masse.
Undocumented immigrants have been referred to as disease carriers, “murderers,” and “rapists.”
In Fountain Valley, two speakers referred to cities with large Latino populations as “shitholes,” echoing a term recently used by President Donald Trump.
Anti-Semitic remarks were heard in at least three cities: Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach and Westminster. One rabbi was told to “get circumcised,” a message that, though nonsensical, was intended to insult.
“What did any of that have to do with the subject at hand?” said Rabbi Stephen Einstein, of Fountain Valley, who has urged several city councils to stay out of the SB 54 debate.
“Those are telling comments,” he said. “Many people who have issues with current immigration policy also hold virulently racist views toward other groups.”
And in meetings in Los Alamitos and Westminster, children and their mothers became upset, some to the point of tears, after comments made against them by some of the speakers.
“They were yelling at the kids,” said Catherine Yeh, a Los Alamitos resident and the mother of a 10-year-old who addressed the council last month in support of sanctuary laws. “There were people sitting behind us saying that the kids were being brainwashed.”
“I’ve been to quite a few council meetings and know there are going to be opposing sides. This is what it means to be in a democracy,” she added.
“(But) it’s important that these meetings not be dominated by a few voices from outside.”
VOICES FROM OUTSIDE
Activists on the traveling circuit say they have the right to speak at the meetings. They also say that the crime and social woes they attribute to people illegally in the country don’t end within any one city’s borders.
“It’s very important for me,” said Elsa Aldeguer, founder of Latinos 4 Trump and one of the speakers who drives from Los Angeles to address “as many meetings as possible.”
As an immigrant from El Salvador who is now a U.S. citizen, Aldeguer said she supports “amnesty for people who are here contributing,” even as she opposes the state’s new sanctuary laws.
“I want them to come out of the shadows,” she said, adding that the “people who scream things” at the meetings “give everyone a bad reputation.”
Jennifer Sterling, who last year organized Make American Great Again marches in Huntington Beach, has spent several nights at recent council meetings to voice opposition to SB-54.
“It’s my right as a California citizen to speak about issues that affect my health, safety and quality of life,” Sterling said, noting that social media has “made it easier to bring concerned patriots together.”
When asked about the anti-Semitic remarks heard in the meetings, Sterling said, “Well, the other side calls me a white supremacist and a fascist. Name calling is despicable on both sides.”
She also defended the role of traveling activism.
“The silent majority is busy raising children and getting their kids to school,” she said. “Nobody really has time for a city council meeting that goes until one in the morning.”
But in Fountain Valley, Kelly Kraus-Lee asked the council to give residents priority.
“Let’s not waste our precious resources on a political stunt,” she said.
City leaders supporting anti-sanctuary moves say the outsiders aren’t critical to the bigger debate – but they’re welcome all the same.
“These meetings are not limited to only residents,” said Los Alamitos Mayor Troy Edgar. “Many business owners in Los Alamitos are from outside the city.”
Huntington Beach Mayor Mike Posey said that people from all over California have a vested interest in sanctuary cities and their voices should be heard.
“I’m not saying these were the spokespeople for Huntington Beach, but SB-54 is not strictly a local issue,” Posey said. “It is a statewide issue that concerns all citizens.”
OUTSIDE THE OUTSIDERS
In many of the cities taking an anti-sanctuary stance, even elected officials say the moves are largely symbolic. But the sanctuary debate in some city council meetings is a proxy war waged by bigger political forces.
National anti-immigration groups issued requests of support to several regional cities – including Escondido, Yorba Linda and Mission Viejo – seeking their support of the U.S. Dept. of Justice lawsuit against California’s sanctuary laws. And politicians hoping to win local elections – Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, for example – have appeared at multiple council meetings to speak on the issue.
“What’s happening in a handful of Southern California cities is really disheartening,” said state Sen. de León, who is running for U.S. Senate.
But outside forces aren’t necessarily driving the on-the-ground anti-sanctuary activists. They’re often focused on the next meeting.
On Wednesday night, in Westminster, where the city council voted to oppose California’s sanctuary laws, some of the activists huddled past midnight outside City Hall, taking photos and talking about their next move.
“Another victory in the big city of… ” Uzziel said, so excited he lost his bearings.
“What city is this again?”
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Most of California either supports or has taken no action to voice its position to SB-54. Some communities expressed opposition to the law earlier, including in northern California, where Shasta County took action last February. But it wasn’t until Orange County’s second smallest city, Los Alamitos, voted on March 19 to create its own ordinance to opt-out of the state law that others said they were inspired and wanted to take action. Those that have created resolutions, pledged to file amicus briefs, join the federal lawsuit or file a separate lawsuit include: Aliso Viejo, Escondido, Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach, Mission Viejo, Newport Beach, Orange, San Juan Capistrano, Westminster, Yorba Linda and Orange County. The San Diego County Board of Supervisors and the city of Murrieta in Riverside County will discuss it next week. Fullerton and West Covina chose to take no action. Meanwhile, Santa Ana and San Gabriel took pro-sanctuary actions.