Santa Barbara News-Press Freedom of Speech Rally- and counter-rally- 1-19-15- Part 1

and opposition counter-rally

By George Miller

Multiple groups, organized by We The People Rising, held a rally at The Santa Barbara News-Press headquarters, on Martin Luther King Day (which they emphasized) to defend free speech for the press and others.

Shortly thereafter, Immigrant advocacy group , PODER (People Organized for the Defense & Equal Rights of SB Youth) started a counter demonstration directly across the entrance lane. The two events then ran concurrently. The theme was that the News-Press used a term which is demeaning, that there should be no restrictions on immigration- and more. A Boycott was threatened.

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Free speech rally at Santa Barbara News-Press, 1-19-15. Note yellow barrier to separate factions. (Photo: Citizensjournal.us)

Background

Three weeks ago, the Santa Barbara News-Press headlined an article about long lines at the DMV because of the new law granting drivers’ licenses to illegal immigrants, entitled “Illegals line up for driver’s licenses.”

PODER took offense at the term “illegals” and on January 8 mobilized to demonstrate in front  of the News-Press building, march around the neighborhood, blocked streets and even attemped to block the 101 freeway, according to a Santa Barbara policeman we talked to.  The News Press Building was defaced with red paint graffiti, which cost an estimated $1500+ to remove and restore the building finish.  Some local sidewalks were defaced as well. Police don’t know who committed these crimes or when, but the timing and protest rhetoric led some to believe there was a connection with the protest. Finally, the protesters laid down an ultimatum, which was by 1-19-15,  for the News-Press to retract the use of the term “illegals, ” which PODER finds offensive and “racist,” or they would call for a boycott of the News-Press and its advertisers.

The Free Speech Rally in support of SB News-Press

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Pro-free speech rally in front of Santa Barbara News-Press building 1-19-15 (photo: Citizensjournal.us)

For the rally, there were about 80 people present, from We The People Rising, the Santa Barbara Tea Party, individuals there on their own, multiple local Republican group members (this was not an officially sanctioned event, although it was mentioned in some emails) and patriot organizations from Ventura County, Los Angeles and the San Bernadino Valley. There were additional people who appeared to be curious passers-by, not included in the estimates and with varying sympathies for both sides, weighted toward the illegal (undocumented) immigrant advocacy groups, based on a sampling of brief interviews.

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Ellen contemplates “Obey the Constitution” sign, placed there by a naturalized Citizen from Cuba, before making an impromptu speech on applied First Amendment. (Photo: Citizensjournal.us)

A woman who wanted to be identified as “Ellen” reminded immigration protesters that they were arguing also for their right to even protest. She later told us that the other side seemingly has little appreciation or respect for our laws.

Multiple people there believe that the attempt to ban the “illegals” term is a move to force “political correctness,” and to actually control the thoughts of people,

A news release handed out to Press at the event said as much and more and also included letters supporting its position and news articles. They also point that the term is in general circulation and even appears on the White House website:

News-Press Director of News Operations Don Katich had previously released this statement:

“It has been the practice for nearly 10 years at the Santa Barbara News-Press to describe people living in this Santa Barbara News Press Logocountry illegally as “illegals” regardless of their country of origin. This practice is under fire by some immigration groups who believe that this term is demeaning and does not accurately reflect the status of “undocumented immigrants,” one of several terms other media use to describe people in the Unites States illegally.

You have to look no further than the White House website to see the term “illegal” used when describing the 2 million illegal immigrants President Obama has deported since taking office for being in the U.S. illegally. 

It is an appropriate term in describing someone as “illegal” if they are in this country illegally. 

The colossal mess that describes the U.S. immigration policy is a product of unenforced laws, conflicting legislation, unsecured borders, executive action and political pandering. However the most egregious aspect of the U.S. immigration condition is the appearance of lawlessness that subjects millions of people living in this country illegally as pawns in a never-ending game of political posturing.

The outrage voiced by immigration advocates should be directed at the current immigration system that takes years of bureaucratic red tape to complete. This outrage is shared by those who go through the process legally and stand at the end of the line of those who skirt U.S. law.

Ours is a system of laws, a system so valued that people from around the world – including many from lawless nations – flock here to be a part of it. The United States of America affords those seeking it a lawful immigration process; it also affords the politically persecuted a haven from persecution. With this freedom comes responsibility. As history has shown, some choose to wait out the process, while others choose to come here on their own terms. The latter are illegal in the eyes of this valued system and the Santa Barbara News-Press calls them so.

When breaking the law becomes the norm, America is no better than other lawless nations.” 

 

We spoke to several Santa Barbara News Press people including Co-Publisher Arthur Von Wiesenberger and Director of News Operations Don Katich.  They were very appreciative of the support of the free speech ralliers. They told us that they stood by the term “Illegals,” because, well, they were describing illegal immigrants, that this term is contained in the law, is used accurately to describe, but a concerted attempt is being made to erase it from the language.  They expressed derision for other publications which knuckled under and would not stand with them on free speech.

When asked about the threat of a boycott, both agreed that’s exactly what newspapers have to deal with, they’ve done it before and if they and others didn’t, there would be no freedom of the press. When asked if it was right to do this on Martin Luther King Day, they said it was exactly right, as MLK stood for free speech.

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Jamiel Shaw (above) is involved in the “Stolen Lives” campaign which publicizes people killed by illegal immigrants, many of them unrestrained felons. His son, Jamiel, Jr., a promising high school football athlete, was killed within earshot of his home (he heard the shots which killed his son) by illegal alien gang member Pedro Espinoza, who has  a long history of violence, yet was never deported.  Espinosa now resides on death row in San Quentin, compliments of John Q. Taxpayer. The present administration has released many thousands of illegal immigrant felons into society.

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Anita Hynds, naturalized Citizen from Central America, called upon people to do it legally and respect our laws. (Photo: Citizensjournal.us)

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Ly Kou, another naturalized U.S. Citizen from Laos, says do it legally, respect our laws.

 

 

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Raoul Rodriguez, Jr. leads the free speech ralliers at the Santa Barbara News Press. Looks like this isn’t just about “white privilege.” (Photo: Citizensjournal.us)

 

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Tony Dolz, Naturalized Citizen from Cuba supports free speech and immigration laws. (Photo: Citizensjournal.us)

 

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Some people will not be told what to say or think. (Photo: Citizensjournal.,us)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Support shown for SB News-Press. (Photo: Citizensjournal.us)

 

 

 

 

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At least some civil dialogue ensued. (Photo: Citizensjournal.us)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HvidstonBBC

Free speech rally organizer Robin Hvidston (right) is interviewed by BBC reporters 1-19-15 (Photo: We The People Rising)

Quite a few news organizations were present to the events. Free speech rally organizer Robin Hvidston (shown above) told Citizensjournal.us “Our intention was to be in support of Santa Barbara News-Press by sending a message to the public and open borders people on freedom of speech/freedom of the press as well as following immigration laws. Her group is not opposed to immigration, just illegal immigration. You will notice that some of the rally participants are foreign-born legal immigrants.

Ms. Hvindston strongly recommends that people subscribe to the News-Press to not only show their support, but to provide material assistance to a principled or organization under siege and because it is an excellent newspaper  run by courageous people.

SUBSCRIBE TO SANTA BARBARA NEWS-PRESS

 

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Passers-by from State St. were curious and looked on at both rallies. (Photo: Citizensjournal.us)

 

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Freedom of speech meets disrespect for the flag by PODER rally illegal immigration advocates. Free speech rallyers remarked: “it just shows how little respect you have for our country.”

View incident video:

 

The other side- PODER Presence

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Agitator works the crowd at Santa Barbara Free Speech Rally. (Photo: Citizensjournal.us)

It was a very different story on the other side of the “barrier.” There were at least as many people present for the PODER event. Initially, they stood on the other side of the barrier, mainly taunting or just observing the Freedom of Speech rally while it proceeded. Some hecklers yelled slogans at the ralliers, while one repeatedly stepped on an American flag and dragged it on the ground, which angered the free speech people. But, there was no violence, since there is, after all, free speech.

Meanwhile, a  couple of pro-illegal immigrant people were on the free speech protesters’ side. One, a Mr. Casteneda, kept repeatedly making offensive and provocative remarks, attempting to elicit responses from the ralliers, while recording the results on video. We were told that he even blocked people trying to take group photos. Most PODER protesters did no such things, though and were civil.

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Photo: Citizensjournal.us

After a while, the PODER-led protesters moved about 50 yards away and conducted their own well-organized rally/protest, with multiple speakers, signs, literature, with some attendees wearing butterfly wings, to symbolize free migration.

There were several speeches, only a couple of which we attended or understood (some were in Spanish). One in particular, by Ralph Armbruster-Sandoval, a professor of Chicano-Chicana studies at UCSB described the struggle to change the vocabulary used to describe illegal immigrants. He likened the struggle to banish the term “illegals” to that of struggles to call women Ms., negroes and colored renamed to African-Americans, homosexuals renamed “gay,” etc, referring to an article, we learned afterward, by Rinku Sen. He was particularly pleased that Associated Press, a large widely-used foreign wire service catering to newspapers which can’t afford their own wide coverage, had in 2013 banned the term “illegals,” and seeks to expand that to more publications.

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Ralph Armbruster Sandoval speaks on purging objectionable terms from vocabulary. Elliot Gabriel (black shirt and hat) of Todo Poder al Pueblo, looks on. (Photo: Citizensjournal.us)

We also spotted people from Todo Poder Al Pueblo, an Oxnard immigrant rights group, who had this and more to say about the rally later that afternoon (we claim fair use):

Kalpulli Huitzilin Ihuan Xochitl at the protest to defend our community from the racist Santa Barbara News-Press and the minutemen who insults us as “illegals”… “Freedom of the Press” or freedom to oppress?

Kalpulli Huitzilin Ihuan Xochitl at the protest to defend our community from the racist Santa Barbara News-Press and the minutemen who insults us as "illegals"... "Freedom of the Press" or freedom to oppress?
Like · · ·

 

There was a literature table, with dozens of pamphlets and articles either helping to support their case or other related or tangental topics. At that table, I met Jasmine, a UCSB professor who said “white privilege” is behind all this and proceeded to do a teach-in on white privilege, racism, abuse of women and more. Some titles we perused on the table: “Abolish Whiteness” (yes that’s really what it’s about), “Anti-Immigrant Hypocrisy,” “Colonization and Decolonization,” and “We Support Cops Who Kill Corrupt Cops.”

In the ugliest incident of the event, a woman named Patrice from the free speech rally walked over to look at the literature table and took samples to read . A large person came running behind her and forcibly seized them from her, cutting her hand in the process. Police moved in quickly, but took no further action. She was later told that she was only allowed to take one, but had it all taken. She was also told she could have flyers, but only if she paid a $30-40 “donation.”

 

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PODER 1-19-15 protest. Photo: Citizensjournal.us

 

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PODER 1-19-15 protest. (Photo: Citizensjournal.us)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Reading  the signs, past protest graffiti, literature, talking to people and listening to parts of some speeches, we concluded the following about the rally’s main points:

The term “illegals” is considered offensive to many. That and immigration laws in general, some of them say, are illegitimate and are the result of discrimination against “brown people,” perpetrated by white racists, using “white privilege.”  The very concept of a U.S. national border was challenged (graffiti on News-Press building said “Borders are illegal, not people”), even the right of the current occupants, especially white ones, to be here and control the territory. So, an open borders policy is advocated and immigration rules are rejected by the protesters.

More than one person also told us that there was no proof that the people in the News-Press photo were not legally here.

 

 National Context

In the context of all this is Obama’s “executive action” in regard to immigration. He recently proclaimed much of immigration law dead, which would allow millions of illegal immigrants to stay here and gain most privileges of citizenship, including entitlements, in direct contravention of Congress and its laws. So far, Congress has been unable to muster the votes to block this, even though the U.S. Constitution Article 1 Section 8 assigns sole responsibility for federal laws to Congress and makes the President responsible for enforcing them. Article II, which defines the powers of the Presidency, grants no law-making powers to that office. Obama asserts that his discretionary powers allow him to do what he is doing and that there are precedents supporting his position.

The Senate in 2013 passed an immigration reform bill which was dead on arrival at the House of Representatives. Some have described it as an amnesty bill, one which does not provide ironclad guarantees of border security or law enforcement. No such bill would have a chance under the new Congress installed this month, the biggest change in over a century, although many members are in favor of some legal changes.  Immigration was a major 2014 election issue and played a large role in changes to Congressional makeup.

 

 Republican Party
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Although the party didn’t formally participate in the free speech or immigration rights events, it is both sympathetic to the aims of the free speech rally participants and also desires”comprehensive immigration reform, per Santa Barbara Republican party Chair Greg Gandrud, although his definition is rather different from that of the open borders advocates.
 .
He said the party does not tell its members and followers what events to come to and had no objection at all to them attending/participating, as quite a few did. We saw former officials and well-known members on-site, some of whom were pointed out to us. Asked about SB News-Press using the term “illegals,” he said, well they are “illegal immigrants,” so this is correct. While he believes in immigration law enforcement, he said he would like to see some changes in a legal path to citizenship, admission of family members, ways of meeting labor needs (suggested the old Bracero program) and student visas. He is not a fan of simply opening up the borders. Gandrud believes that Obama’s unilateral immigration “executive action” is blatantly unlawful/unconstitutional, but that reform is needed and only Congress has the power to make or change laws.
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The Santa Barbara Democratic Party hadn’t returned our call by press time.  Added 1-120-15 5:40 PM:
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Democratic Party
 .
Daraka Larimore-Hall, Chair of the Santa Barbara Democratic Party, as well as an Instructor at Santa Barbara City College,  told us the following tonight:
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“I think AP made the right  decision (in banning the word “illegals”), to be more accepting of all people. It’s incredibly important to move away from stigmatizing large portions of the population.” “The News-Press has to modernize and get with the times.”
 .
Our state platform calls for comprehensive immigration reform, including a path to citizenship, bringing people out of the shadows, but they have to take responsibility for mainstreaming themselves. We want to assure an open door for full membership of all to society.
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When asked about entitlements, Mr Larimore-Hall said “people without documents do pay via sales tax, some remit payroll taxes which most never get back….. across the board, people are paying into the system about as much as they get out.”
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He expressed alarm at “the other side,” on hearing about statements made at the rally. He said he was told that some are Minutemen. “People involved  range from those merely mistaken about the economic/social threats, but honestly concern all the way to blatantly racist fearmongers and cultural nationalists.”
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 Heavy police presence

The Santa Barbara Police were seemingly everywhere, to discourage any violence or further destruction of property. SBNP Rally 1-15-15 095It was an overwhelming display of strength, but with a very light touch. They are used to protests and easily took it in stride.  No actual protesters were harmed at this event. They even erected  a flimsy net barrier to help separate the two sides. Some people simply walked around it, unopposed,  to be with the other group. Also present was Chuk Reed, a representative of the Police Dept. Community Relations, who expressed a wish for an open dialogue on the issue and was there to observe and talk.

 

Some relevant articles

Supporters, Detractors Hold Opposing Rallies Over Santa …

Attack of the Open-Borders Mau-Mau-ers | CNS News

Amid outcry, News-Press is adamant on provocative term for immigrants 

http://www.newspress.com/Top/Section/OPINIONS-LETTERS

 

https://newspress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/podersb

https://wethepeoplerising.wordpress.com/ 

 

 

George Miller is Publisher of Citizensjournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant, active in civic affairs, living in Oxnard.

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One Response to Santa Barbara News-Press Freedom of Speech Rally- and counter-rally- 1-19-15- Part 1

  1. Alan January 21, 2015 at 6:26 am

    I applaud the wonderful American citizens for standing up for our Constitution and right to Free Speech! As well as The Santa Barbara new-Press for sticking to their guns and calling foreign scofflaws for what they are ILLEGALS!
    I’m sure American citizens throughout the United States will not appreciate our American flag being stepped on and dishonored!
    The nasty open border people and the foreign scofflaws should go back to the Homeland they so love! They are not wanted here!
    They profess to sneak into the U.S. for a “better life” and then
    turn the U.S. into the cesspool they came from!
    These photos are proof of that! As for Mexican Indian dancers in
    the United States? They should go back to Guadalajara where they originated from! They look totally out of place where Native Americans have always danced!

    Reply

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