Nearly 800 people filled the Sonoma Academy gym Sunday evening in Santa Rosa to rally for progressive community issues, such as immigration overhaul, new efforts to keep kids in school and better access to public transit.
The fatal shooting of 13-year-old Andy Lopez by a Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy has galvanized the Moorland Avenue neighborhood in which the teen lived and played, local residents and community leaders say. It also appears to have strengthened a sense in Sonoma County’s substantial Latino community — at least a quarter of the county’s population — that they have the numbers and power to command the attention of government officials, and even affect policy.
Sonoma County Sheriff Steve Freitas, a strong opponent of a state bill that would limit cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration officials, said this week that he would not oppose the new law if Gov. Jerry Brown signs it.
More than 100 people gathered in front of the Sonoma County Jail in Santa Rosa on Thursday afternoon for a prayer vigil to urge Gov. Jerry Brown to sign a legislation limiting local law enforcement’s ability to cooperate with federal immigration agents.
Sonoma County immigration advocates and Sheriff Steve Freitas have worked cooperatively in the past but now are clashing over legislation before Gov. Jerry Brown.
If signed into law, the measure would prohibit local police agencies from detaining suspected illegal immigrants on federal immigration holds, except in cases where suspects have been charged with a serious or violent felony or convicted of one in the past.
Freitas opposes the measure, saying it would force him to either defy the new state law or ignore federal regulations.
A parade of speakers on Saturday called for district elections in Santa Rosa, saying the concept is more democratic and would bridge the city’s economic and ethnic divide. About 130 people attended the three-hour meeting to consider possible changes to the city charter, including a switch from citywide voting for all seven council members to separate voting in seven districts.
The Santa Rosa High School auditorium Sunday had the feel of part victorious political rally, part community party and part tent revival as Sonoma County’s two largest law enforcement agencies announced they would begin accepting Mexican consular cards as a valid identification. The cards will reduce the number of people booked into jail for lacking identification or for traffic offenses. And that will lead to fewer deportations from the jail.
Local law enforcement officials are expected to announce today a countywide policy of accepting Mexican consular ID cards as a valid form of identification. Such a move would could keep some illegal immigrants from landing in jail, where they most likely would be flagged by federal immigration officials.
The Occupy Wall Street movement is spreading across the United States. Protests against the influence of the superwealthy have taken place in more than 100 cities. On Saturday, organizers expect up to 1,000 demonstrators at a rally in Santa Rosa to call attention to the economic pressures on working Americans.
Sebastopol’s police department is now recognizing Mexican consular ID cards as valid identification, a move that could keep some illegal immigrants from landing in jail, where they would most likely be flagged by federal immigration officials.