[UPDATED WITH NEW PHOTOS:] Day Laborers Sue Costa Mesa
|Photos by Matt Coker|
|Protesters in front of Costa Mesa City Hall claim day laborers are singled out by the city's anti-solicitation ordinance.|
Informed that day laborers were suing the city, he remarked, "Just round up the fuckers and send 'em back" before storming over in the direction of the police department.
The close talker might be surprised to discover that while nearly all gathered together were brown, they were also students, teachers, lawyers and political activists every bit as American as he is, and they were exercising that most American right to hold their government accountable.
|This protest had a soundtrack.|
The law prohibits any person standing on a sidewalk or in any public area from actively soliciting employment, business or contributions in any manner deemed to be attracting the attention of passing traffic. Violators are subject to $1,000 fines and six-month jail sentences.
|MALDEF's Thomas A. Saenz|
Costa Mesa, he said, is the eighth California city to pass such an ordinance, and following the legal intervention of MALDEF and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the other seven have drastically re-written their laws or repealed them altogether. "Costa Mesa has a large hurdle to get over with those precedents," Saenz told the crowd gathered for this morning's press conference.
Lake Forest is among the cities to repeal ordinances after being slapped with lawsuits, noted Belinda Escobosa Helzer, staff attorney with the ACLU office in Orange.
The lawsuit, which seeks an immediate injunction to stop the Costa Mesa ordinance, was filed by MALDEF, the ACLU of Southern California and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) on behalf of Asociacion de Jornaleros de Costa Mesa and the Colectivo Tonantzin members who have apparently been restricted from peaceably assembling on public land to express their need to seek employment.
|Belinda Escobosa Helzer, staff attorney with the ACLU's Orange County office, draws coverage.|
|Pablo Alvarado, director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network|
People like Gilchrist are not targeting people seeking work, per se, but immigrants, according to Alvarado. "We want to show them we are not fearful of anything," he said to loud cheers.
|Gabriela Trujillo gets emotional.|
"Many see day laborers as a public nuisance or eyesores," said Trujillo. "What I see are men who are trying to feed their families. We need to think of the children left behind and the single mothers."
Tearing up, Trujillo claimed to see the social fallout firsthand as a local junior high school teacher.