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ESCONDIDO — Dozens of protesters from Escondido’s Latino community packed City Hall on Wednesday, angered by the council’s recent support for a proposed ballot initiative that would create a police force to target illegal immigration.
Carrying signs decrying the decision as divisive and racist, some seven dozen protesters gathered in Grape Day Park before marching into the City Hall chambers to voice their opposition to the council’s decision to throw its support behind the California Border Police Act.
Last week, in a symbolic nod of support, the council voted 3-2 to back the initiative, which would establish a state-run police agency that would patrol the U.S border with Mexico and take responsibility for apprehending suspected illegal immigrants in California’s communities. Mayor Lori Pfeiler and Councilman Ron Newman voted against the resolution.
“The responsibility of local elected officials is to represent and hear the voices of your community,” said Christian Ramirez, director of the San Diego chapter of American Friends Service Committee. “It is not to use your seat for your own political agenda.”
Consuelo Martinez, who helped coordinate the demonstration for the Escondido Human Rights Committee, a group that has opposed strict immigration controls, said the resolution went against the council’s stated goal of improving relations with the city’s Latino community.
Many spoke in Spanish and used translators.
“Here in Escondido, we don’t have anybody who represents us,” said Mario Alvarez, an Escondido resident of 23 years. “But thank you very much for those who are attacking us, because you are uniting us.”
(Posted on October 20, 2005)