Immigrant rights activists protest Sheriff Baca at awards event in West L.A.
Los Angeles, CA – Sheriff Lee Baca was met by an angry protest, Dec. 18, as he arrived to speak at Village Church in West Lost Angeles. When he arrived, his car quickly sped off and he tried to get into the church via the back driveway. But young protesters ran and confronted him chanting, “Baca estamos en la lucha, alto a la Poli/Migra, alto a las deportaciones!”
Lupe Ramirez, a vendor, spoke about the Sheriff Department’s harassment of vendors near L.A. Metro stations and of vendors being deported after arrests for minor infractions – like vending.
The Community Service Organization (CSO) and Southern California Immigration Coalition organized this protest to express their anger that Sheriff Baca would be honored keynote speaker at an event sponsored by faith leaders.
Baca spoke on the topic of “Unity in Diversity.” Earlier this year, Sheriff Baca wrote a Los Angeles Times editorial saying immigrants shouldn't have civil rights. Sheriff Baca is a strong advocate of Secure Communities (SCOMM), the ICE/police program that has led to the detention and deportation of thousands of primarily Mexican and Central American working class immigrants.
The L.A. city council and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa have officially opposed SCOMM. Several major cities like New York, Washington D.C. and San Francisco have opted out of SCOMM.
The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department and Sheriff Baca are facing two investigations by the FBI for corruption and physical abuse by Sheriff’s Deputies of Blacks and Chicanos awaiting trial in the L.A.’s overcrowded county jails.
Alicia Alvarez, the mother of Johnathan Cuevas, killed unjustifiably by the L.A. county sheriffs, spoke to the media and protesters about the killing of her young son. She and her family have united with the grassroots immigrant rights movement to demand justice for victims of SCOMM and killings by the sheriffs. The L.A. county sheriffs have a long history of killing Chicanos; in the early 1990s the killing of Smokey Jimenez at the Ramona Housing Projects and David Angel Ortiz led to many protests and some reforms. The killing of famous Chicano reporter Ruben Salazar, on Aug. 29, 1970, during the Chicano Moratorium protest against the Vietnam War, is still a major controversy with the Chicano community.
The protest is part of an ongoing campaign to pressure Sheriff Baca to opt out of the Secure Communities ICE program. “Wherever Baca goes we will be there,” shouted the protesters.
Carlos Montes is a CSO (Community Service Organization) organizer. For more information: www.csosite.org