Saturday, May 1, 2010

Courage Campaign? Smear Campaign is more like it.

I received this via email:

On Sat, May 1, 2010 at 10:08 AM, Rev. Eric Lee, for Courage Campaign <> wrote:

Rev. Eric Lee, California president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, has a very important message to share with you regarding the new law in Arizona that enables racial profiling.

We stand with Rev. Lee and the thousands of people marching today in 80 immigration rallies across America for the right of every person to live their life free of racial injustice.

Rick Jacobs
Chair, Courage Campaign

Dear John --

I've spent my life fighting institutional racism. That's why it outrages me to see it happening now just across the border from California.

Arizona -- the state that for years refused to recognize Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's birthday as a holiday -- is once again targeting people of color. Arizona's governor just signed SB 1070, a law which allows police officers to question anyone they believe to be in the country illegally based on nothing more than "reasonable suspicions."

And now this law could have a devastating impact on California as well. Republican Senate candidate Tom Campbell -- who could face Sen. Barbara Boxer in November's election -- just came out in support of this draconian new law that turns Arizona into a police state.

In fact, Californians have already been targeted. According to ABC 30 TV news, a truck driver -- a U.S. citizen of Latino heritage from Fresno -- was pulled over last week by Arizona police and arrested simply because he didn't have his birth certificate on him. The same could happen to any of us if the Arizona law is allowed to stand.

Tom Campbell, who wants to be one of California's two U.S. Senators, doesn't see a problem with that. On Wednesday he told the Sacramento Bee " I support [the law]. I don't believe it deserves the negative attention it received." Tom Campbell believes the Arizona law to be constitutional. However, there is nothing constitutional about the bigotry of racial profiling.

I don't support it -- and neither should Tom Campbell. That's why I'm joining the Courage Campaign and the California Federation of Teachers in signing a letter to Campbell showing him that Californians will not accept his support for Arizona's racial profiling. Sign here now and we'll hand-deliver your signature to Campbell. DEADLINE: Tuesday, 5 p.m.:

Tom Campbell's support for the law is out of step with the rest of California.

Polls show Californians support President Obama's plan to secure our borders and provide a path to citizenship to undocumented immigrants. That is the just and sensible approach to this issue.

Californians do not support racial profiling, and they do not want law enforcement to waste their time asking for people's papers instead of chasing down violent criminals. But Tom Campbell does.

We have to hold Tom Campbell accountable. Join me and add your name to the Courage Campaign and California Federation of Teachers' letter -- tell Campbell you won't let him take California down the dark path of racism that Arizona has followed. DEADLINE: Tuesday, 5 p.m.:

Thanks for taking a stand for justice and fairness.

Rev. Eric Lee
California President, Southern Christian Leadership Conference

And this is my response:

Sorry, gentlemen, but this email is appalling to me. "Reasonable suspicion" is not racism nor is it bigotry. It is a necessary and vital part of any police officer's job. There are hundreds of court rulings defining how and when it should be applied, and law enforcement successfully does just that everyday when engaging the public. Why allege that they will now, suddenly and instantly, lose all integrity and ability to properly evaluate situations? I am truly disgusted by the anti-law enforcement tone of this rhetoric.

You can be sure that I will be volunteering on this issue, but not in such a manner that smears police officers already doing a thankless job.

Please remove me from any future mailings. I no longer wish to be associated with your group.

John Hulsey

It seems opponents to this law must rely on lies to fight it. "Reasonable suspicion" is not institutional racism. It's a vital tool for law enforcement. Imagine an officer sees someone walking out of a backyard gate holding a television and putting it into the back of a car waiting in the alley. And that person sees the officer, dashes around to the driver's seat and speeds away, leaving the back gate wide open. "Reasonable suspicion" tells the officer that the person may have broken into the home and stolen the television. Is that the only possible explanation? No, of course not. But the officer must rely on his experience, his training and his "reasonable suspicion" and act accordingly. So why the pretense now, that someone officers are going to lose all sense and integrity?

And the accusation that law enforcement will now "waste their time asking for people's papers instead of chasing down violent criminals" is ridiculous. This isn't about verifying immigration status instead of catching criminals. It is about not having to ignore immigration status while trying to serve and protect the public.

This issue is going to heat up no matter what. But attacking the law by insulting the integrity of law enforcement and the intelligence of the rest of us is only going to make it worse.


  1. umm, you might have missed something here: the arrest of a truck driver, latino, US citizen, for suspicion of being an illegal, is the problem. This is something we should all be concerned about. The Courage campaign message in no way smeared the police officer who was obeying the new law by arresting someone who could not prove he was a citizen at the time he was stopped. This could happen to you; do you have absolute proof you are a citizen? Can you even prove that your birth certificate is not someone else's? What if you're asked to produce a mythical 'long form' birth certificate, if you're from a place that does not have such a thing? Can I prove I'm a citizen? How? The law is too vague, and any arrest that forces the arrested one to prove innocence seems to have gone too far.

  2. I'm trying to find a link to the actual story in question. So far, I'm just finding stories complaining about it. And you know I find in each of those stories? Here, tell me if you see the common thread:

    This story:
    Juan Baca was among those students. Baca, 19, whose parents brought him from Mexico illegally when he was 4 months old, said he has had to drop out of college and work several times already because he can't qualify for financial aid.

    And this story:
    "It's racist," said Donna Sanchez, a 22-year-old U.S. citizen living in Chicago whose parents illegally crossed the Mexican border. "I have papers, but I want to help those who don't."

    Yep, the first two stories I find both have people protesting about the law who are in this country because their parents broke the law and entered this country illegally. They are examples of the problem.

  3. And now, back to the point of my original post, the comments being hateful towards law enforcement. Nothing you wrote explains why "reasonable suspicion" is acceptable as a standard for everything else but is suddenly a code word for institutionalized racism when it is applied here.

  4. Got news for you, patriot:

    "A representative at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) returned 3TV’s calls after researching the incident and she said this was standard operating procedure."

    This was NOT Arizona authorities. This was ICE. They've had the ability for seventy years to detain ANYONE who cannot satisfy them that they are here legally. Unlike the Arizona law, the federal law says that ICE can just go up to anyone on any street and demand proof of citizenship. Nothing new there at all.

  5. Ummm, patriot, I think you may have missed something, too. First of all, the law hasn't even gone into affect yet, so how could AZ police be enforcing it already? Secondly, a truck driver must have a CDL on him while working. In CA, to get a driver's licence, you have to provide a SSN which will be verified with the Social Security Administration and proof of legal presence.

    Obviously, there is more to this story (assuming it even happened at all), and the driver was NOT arrested for suspicion of being legal.