From Three Strikes to Jamiel Shaw, Jr.: Taking it to Another Level
Why has one of the largest and most respected immigrant rights organizations in Los Angeles joined “divisive” electoral fights against statewide propositions that attack LGBTQ people and women’s reproductive rights, and against propositions that criminalize Black and Brown people?
The No On the Six campaign interviewed Xiomara Corpeño, organizer with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), to learn how and why they did it. It’s a story about the real challenges in our work against The Six breaking boundaries and making the connections across issues.
We talked about the propositions, but also the Jamiel Shaw, Jr. case, about progress since Props 187 & 184, and about what it means to be LGBTQ and Latino in the Catholic Church.
CHIRLA is focusing its electoral work on Prop 6, the “Runner Initiative” that would expand the police and prison state. Why is the issue of criminalization important to CHIRLA?
It’s becoming a “crime” for immigrants to enter the country. It’s a civic infraction, not a crime, to enter the country without documentation or without inspection. We have been working on this issue for a long time, going back even to1986. But after 9-11, we really saw an increase in people seeing immigrants entering the country as a “crime” and a threat to national security. There started being talk of things like requiring immigrant drivers’ licenses to have a special mark. The first response of many immigrants was not to question criminalization but to say, “Don’t treat us like criminals. We’re not criminals, we’re not terrorists.” So we realized then that we needed to begin doing a lot of work with our members to debunk these myths about who’s a criminal and who isn’t.
Is CHIRLA’s stand on Prop 6 a breakthrough? In 1996, the immigrant rights movement mobilized against the anti-immigrant Prop 187 but not against “Three Strikes” Prop 184.
I think there has been a breakthrough and I think it’s for a couple of different reasons. One is that as we’ve grown as an organization, we’ve matured. And as we’ve grown...
Jamiel Shaw, Jr. and Special Order 40
Here is the text of a speech about the Jamiel Shaw, Jr. case and Special Order 40 that Damon gave at City Council on October 27th, 2008:
Racism in this country has a long history and an even longer shadow. Racism in this country sees every Black person as a criminal. It sees every person from of South and Central America as illegal. Every Arab as a terrorist.
Racism fuels laws that racially profile, round up, intern and imprison Black people, Latinos, Arabs, Japanese and other communities of color.
It is so insidious that it has us believing those lies about our own people as well as lies about the people that we share our Laundry mats, our grocery stores, our neighborhoods with.
This is a tragic heart-breaking event... The loss of a child. But no mater how much racial profiling legislation is passed, … no matter how may people get locked up or that entire communities get further criminalized it will never bring Jamiel Shaw Jr. back
As Black people—a people that have survived the rawest racism and bigotry since we our ancestors were forcibly brought here…we can not sign off on it being perpetrated on another people.
We urge the Public Safety committee to vote no on this motion to modify Special Order 40.
On the new Measure R commercial
Hey ya’ll, I am assuming you have gotten your first glimpse of the pro-Measure R TV commercial ad being aired in Los Angeles ( click here for a copy provided by the LA Times traffic blog). As you’ll see, the commercial opens up with a 1950’s “Leave it to Beaver’” type song and celebrating the grand opening of the 110 freeway and the expansion of highways in Los Angeles with the support of the Eisenhower Administration after World War II. The main message: Vote for Measure R because it’s the first comprehensive plan since the 1950’s – we will build freeway lanes, roads, expand the subway, light rail to LAX and even fix potholes for L.A. County.
Isn’t it funny how post WWII in Los Angeles is portrayed as a good thing? To me, the 1950’s in Los Angeles is a scary place—deeply segregated and repressive. It was a city with strict racial covenants in housing for Black families as Chicano families were being kicked out of Bunker Hill and Chavez Ravine to make room for a "modern 20th Century City." The 1950’s also marks the height of Operation Wetback that deported tens of thousands Mexican and even Mexican-American.
The 1950’s plan that this commercial is reminiscent of is the complete opposite of what the city needs. Do we really want to promote a plan that proliferated freeways and auto use in the region, essentially prompting white flight and destroying the public transportation system? Sadly, if Measure R wins on November 4th – this is what will happen.
In reality the appropriate tag line for Measure R should read – a pro-corporate, more pollution, gentrification tax that will solidify transit apartheid. It promises $60 billion in projects, yet only collects $40 billion – who will meet the difference? Mayor Villaraigosa and other politicians say the federal and state government. Yet most federal funds are for freeway expansion (and that formula will not change radically between a Democratic or Republican President), and the state has a $15 billion deficit.
So, who does that leave? Bus riders. And while certain folks don’t like to talk about (or get defensive about) the racial politics of transportation in Los Angeles – the majority of bus riders are Black, Brown, Asian, and working class people, who are often on the margins of the debate and worse, the proverbial punching bag in L.A. transit.
Measure R will only deepen these policies. Bus riders would not only pay an additional tax so that Westsiders can get a subway and a light rail to Santa Monica, but at the end of the day, if these projects are ever “completed,” MTA will have no money to run them, leading to inevitable (and unethical) fare increases and bus service cuts to run these new projects. To deepen the scenario, Black, Brown and Asian bus riders will be priced out of their own neighborhoods as middle income professionals move into Koreatown, Boyle Heights, Leimert Park and North Hollywood, attracted by the rail-centered “transit-oriented development.” And all the while, the auto industry, the freeway construction companies and those “ticked off commuters” will still be in their single passenger automobiles, engorging the already 7 million cars in the County.
Let’s turn out the vote hard and defeat Measure R.
An Important Editorial from La Opinion
Hey, everyone—we’re at 26 days to the elections and things are tightening up. I ran into an important Editorial from La Opinión on Thursday, October 9, 2008 urging their readership to Vote No on Proposition 8 . It’s an excellent editorial given these reactionary times and the pull of strong religious and socially conservative forces inside the Chicano, Mexicano and Latinoamericano communities. I congratulate the No on Prop 8 forces for their work in securing this important statement and of course the editorial board at La Opinión which has been a progressive stalwart force in Los Angeles, not just for the Spanish speaking community, but all people.
Like we argued in our statement against Proposition 8 in our No on the Six voter guide and materials, Gay marriage and the mutual commitment of love and care-ship between LGBTQ peoples should be affirmed by the state. In a Country that had laws that banned inter-racial marriage and has historically treated oppressed nationalities, women, immigrants, LGBTQ communities with a conditional set of rights—negating them citizenship, civil rights and human rights—therefore these rights have to be affirmed and defended by all oppressed people and people of good conscious. We all know that the interplay of white supremacy, patriarchy and rights are embedded in this country’s fabric. Inside the Latino immigrant community as the current massive raids happening across the state and country that are breaking-up families through incarceration and deportation, lets not allow conservative and reactionary forces to define family values.
Come join the Strategy Center’s Take the Initiative Campaign.