on May 6, 2010
To elected officials in Richmond, there is nothing “controversial” about Arizona’s recently passed law, which gives state and local police new powers to demand documentation of people they suspect of being in the country illegally.
Instead, it’s “horrible” and a “hate law” that “profiles our Latino community,” Mayor Gayle McLaughlin told the crowd and a local television audience at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting.
After a lengthy session in which nearly every council member and several members of the public criticized the polarizing state law, the council voted 6-0 to declare opposition to the law and to establish a moratorium on city workers setting foot in the state while on city time.
The city’s resolution also declares that Richmond won’t initiate any new business companies based in Arizona, while exploring whether it can sever any current contracts with Arizona-based firms.
City Councilman Jeff Ritterman reminded the audience of Arizona leaders’ longstanding opposition to recognizing the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, which was in part overcome by economic activism, including by the National Football League, which moved the Super Bowl site from Arizona in a show of opposition.
Arizona became the last state to recognize King’s holiday in 1999.
“These kinds of actions become more than symbolic,” Ritterman said of Richmond’s resolution. “I think it’s essential that we raise our voices. We have huge numbers of people here who would be stopped in the street if we had this sort of law in Richmond.”
About a half-dozen residents also spoke out in opposition to the Arizona law, which was signed by the state’s governor on April 23. Many inveighed passionately against the measure on moral grounds, equating targeting immigrants with persecutions of African Americans and German Jews.
Richmond’s declaration that it will sever economic relationships with Arizona joins a growing chorus of other cities adopting similar measures. The Oakland City Council approved a similar resolution the samw night as Richmond.
Other cities include Santa Ana, San Diego, West Hollywood, Boulder, CO. and St. Paul, Minn. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has halted city travel to Arizona except for police and public health.
Councilman Nat Bates was absent from Tuesday night’s meeting.
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