Friday, September 26, 2008

Hate group in town

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Members of the nativist group the Minutemen brought their anger at San Francisco's "Sanctuary City" policy to the lawn across from City Hall on Thursday. About 75 Minutemen types held their rally while about 125 immigration activists marched around them, chanting vigorously.

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The counterprotesters made a good showing...

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...while San Francisco's finest watched warily, protecting the anti-immigrant group's free speech.

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This guy has a limited notion of rights.

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And I didn't mind that this one was penned in.

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Meanwhile immigrant advocates tried to explain to the media how the city's "sanctuary" policy benefits all San Franciscans. Put in place in the 1980's the policy tries to assure all people that they can use city health facilities and expect police protection without having their immigration status questioned. It's a profoundly practical matter: the police would get no cooperation in whole swathes of the city, including the Mission 'hood where I live, if people had to be afraid they'd be turned over to the migra (immigration police).

In June three particularly nasty murders, gang related, allegedly committed by an undocumented Salvadoran who had benefited from the sanctuary policy, put the city's use of the policy under a microscope. The San Francisco Chronicle saw a hot story; the city was treated to a week of inflammatory headlines: Political pressure worked and the city officially backed away from its longtime practices, at least verbally. Lots of heat was generated; extremely little light was cast. This newspaper-driven panic about the brown newcomers in our midst set the scene for today's visit from the Minutemen.

As I left the rally, I noticed a line of confident, well-behaved, school children leaving the garden that currently occupies the center of Civic Center plaza. The rally didn't scare them, nor the counterprotesters. They are the San Franciscans of the future. They don't look like the Minutemen.
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