Liliana is an illegal immigrant with a 6-month old son. She is married to Geraldo, a United States citizen. Facing deportation, she was granted sanctuary by a tiny 80-member church as part of the national New Sanctuary movement. Originally sheltered in Long Beach, the little church closer to her home offered her sanctuary so she and her son could be closer to her husband.
Save Our State, an anti-immigration group (that’s putting it kindly — a read of their home page leaves me of the opinion that they are fascists) , was unhappy that Liliana and her son are sheltered under the roof of the church, untouchable by authorities. So they decided to stage a protest. Here is a description of their efforts:
Dozens of angry, loud people stood on each side of a Simi Valley church’s driveway using bullhorns and overworked vocal cords to hurl insults at each other in an immigration protest Sunday.
More from that day:
No arrests were made — citizen or otherwise — but Naui Huitzilopochtli of Westminster, an immigration advocate, was writhing in pain after being sprayed in the face with a chemical agent, allegedly by an opposing protester. He was taken by ambulance to Simi Valley Hospital. Simi Valley Police Capt. John McGinty confirmed the incident and said it was being investigated.
Yes that’s right, this takes place in Simi Valley, home to the Rodney King trial and home to more police officers per capita than anywhere else in Ventura County.
From Save Our State:
“We’re frustrated Americans,” said Save Our State spokeswoman Chelene Nightingale, “and we represent all of the millions of Americans that were calling on Congress to stop amnesty. We’re here to let other Americans know that we’re here fighting for our nation and for our children.”
Nightingale then reveals her full agenda:
Nightingale said Save Our State members wanted to make a citizen’s arrest but realized during the protest they weren’t going to get anywhere near Liliana.
So she asked group members to call a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement hotline and demand Liliana’s arrest.
Ventura County Star
Closely watched by about 15 police officers, the protesters ranged in age from an 18-year-old community college student from Simi Valley to 80-year-old Dee Barrow of Upland, who wore a wide-brimmed hat as protection against the sun. Police officers remained at the scene and the protest finally disbanded when the Save Our State folks figured out that they weren’t going to win a standoff on church property.
End of story, right? Wrong.
Three days later, the City of Simi Valley sent a $40,000 bill (PDF) to the church for services rendered in connection with police and public services dispatched to keep the peace. They billed over $35,000 in salaries alone, which breaks down to approximately $2,382 per officer for 8 or so hours work. Here is their logic:
Although the church was not a part of the protest, Simi officials said that by publicly announcing the decision to shelter an illegal immigrant, the church provoked the protesters to come and create a possible disturbance — one that required a police presence.
Evidently in Simi Valley they believe in punishing the victims. The church did not call the protest. The church did not invite the racist peace-disturbers to their front door, and the church has a right to protection just like every single other citizen of that city. The fact that churches are tax-exempt organizations does not exempt them from the same protections that others receive.
Simply put, the church neither instigated nor invited unruly protesters. If someone shows up at your front door hurling insults and demanding access to your home and you call the police, are you billed? Only if you live in Simi Valley, I suppose and if you happen to be sympathetic to illegal immigrants.
Setting aside the question of sanctuary and anti-sanctuary views for a second and looking only at the city’s actions, it’s clear that the city of Simi Valley is dead wrong in this. Dead wrong, as the ACLU has already pointed out.
“No matter what the sentiment of the Simi Valley City Council, no matter how loud the protesters are outside the church’s door, this church is constitutionally protected,” said attorney Peter Bibring at a news conference Friday afternoon at the church on Royal Avenue.
Why yes, it certainly is. Unless of course, you’re giving sanctuary to an illegal alien in a city that really, really doesn’t want any of ‘their kind’ within its lily-white borders. (I lived there for five years; it’s that bad, yes it is)
Now since the pushback from the ACLU, the city has agreed not to send any more bills, but it shows no intention of withdrawing the first bill either. WTF? I’m still scratching my head at the amazing salaries paid to Simi Valley police officers — I want a job where I get to work for 8 hours and earn $2,382/day. Let’s see, that works out to about $452,755 per year in annual salary per officer. Dang, where do I sign up? Ventura Sheriffs, who sent 43 officers have said they do not bill anyone for their services after the fact.
Let’s review this one more time:
- In attendance: 9 Skinheads, uninvited; 120 protesters, not all of whom were even from the area.
- The goal: To force authorities to enter the church and arrest a young woman with a 6-month old child.
- The victims: Rev. June Goudey and her 80-member congregation, who are living their faith by trying to keep this young family intact.
- The rapists: The City of Simi Valley
- The hatemongers: Save our State
If the City Council of Simi Valley had half a brain cell working in their tiny little pinheads, they’d immediately rescind the bill and issue a heartfelt and sincere apology. If they are stupid enough to press forward and insist that the church pay that bill, they will be deep, deep in debt to all the lawyers they’ll have to hire to defend their sorry asses all the way to the Supreme Court. I will be the first in line to send a donation to that little church and to the ACLU to push ahead with this court case and see to it that their efforts to set yet another racist precedent are thwarted.
With all the ugliness we have in the world — a war in Iraq, saber-rattling with Iran, a federal government who daily tries to stroke our basest fears and make us all a little uglier, is it really necessary to persecute this young lady and her infant son by forcing their family to break apart? It should go without saying, but how can a conservative “values-based” community like Simi Valley justify the destruction of a family at all? Oh, that’s right…they can because that little family has the misfortune to be illegal and to be Mexican.
Just for some perspective, my first encounter with Simi Valley values came in the early 80’s, when I wrote a scathing letter to the editor of the now-defunct Simi Valley Enterprise after discovering that the local Jaycees barred women from joining or participating. They were permitted in one meeting per year — to serve food for the men. That was it. For all I know, it’s still that way. This was the eighties, not the fifties. Just a little flavor of how narrow and truly ugly the attitudes were then, and evidently remain now.
Here’s my message to Simi Valley:
Why are they so sick and ridiculous?
Two, four, six, eight: They brainwash and teach you hate. H-E-L-L-O–Hello.
- 9/17/07 Ventura County Star: Protesters Target Simi Valley Church
- 9/20/07 Editorial: 1st Amendment? It will cost you
- 9/20/07 Ventura County Star: Simi Urged to Withdraw $40,000 Bill
- 9/25/07 Ventura County Star: City Won’t Bill Church for Future Protests
- In Honor of the Little Rock Nine
- Jena 6: If You’re Looking for the Real Story