Things That Matter

A City Council Member In California Created Controversy For Standing Up For The Immigrant Community

@vcstar/Twitter

When City Council member Ruth Luevanos made a Facebook post on July 13 advising immigrants about their rights, she thought she was acting in good faith for her community. Fast forward a few weeks later, Luevanos has been the target of mass criticism and even a death threat from the traditionally conservative town. Many are calling for the council members resignation but there is also a number of people who are standing by her. 

How did this whole ordeal get started in a conservative town like Simi Valley?

Credit: @grantgoldberg / Twitter

Luevanos posted the video, which was filmed in her office and posted onto her personal City Council Facebook page, the day before what was supposed to be the start of President Trump’s nationwide series of immigrant raids. She says the video was made in part “to inform people of their rights,” noting that other California public officials, including California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, made announcements about Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids.

The City Council member intentions were to also inform and assure constituents that California’s sanctuary state measure, Senate Bill 54, was still the law. The bill, which standardizes non-cooperation standards between California law enforcement agencies and federal immigration authorities, has been a national hot topic issue.

“I’m here to tell you you have rights,” Luevanos says as she sits in front of an American flag resembling a Mexican serape blanket.”You do not have to open your door to ICE officials. ICE cannot legally force their entry into your home.”

But the root of the controversy came from some of the comments that Luevanos made about law enforcement and comments about ICE detention centers. Like many other progressives, Luevanos has advocated for abolishing ICE.

Credit:@vcstar/Twitter

“Right now, the United States is in the business of running concentration camps,” Luevanos says in the three-minute video. “They’re asking (detainees) to drink out of toilets. They’re verbally and physically harassing them. And they’re denying them basic sanitary care.”

As the video features footage of President Trump, Luevanos calls the immigration raids “a political stunt by our current president to ensure his re-election.”

“We have a responsibility as community leaders that our most vulnerable — whether they’re homeless, or veterans, or low-income or our immigrant population — are taken care of and that they feel safe in our community,” Luevanos said.

At an open city council meeting on Monday, Luevanos went face to face with many of those that are calling for her to step down. 

Credit: @mike_harris / Twitter

In a hostile City Council meeting on Monday, Simi Valley residents voiced their opinion on the Facebook video. According to the Ventura County Star, there were dozens of speakers, some there opposing Luevanos and some in attendance to support her message. 

Many of her critics say that the council member is advocating for unlawfulness and is spreading false information about immigration enforcement. Simi Valley resident Jenniffer Jones was at the Monday meeting to voice her frustration with the video.

“She’s advocating lawlessness,” Jones told ABC7. “You can’t be doing this. These people went to court, they had their due process. A judge decided they cannot be in the U.S. any longer.”

Even Simi Valley Mayor Keith Mashburn has had his concerns about the Facebook post and the look it gives the City Council as a whole. Mashburn says he doesn’t have an issue with Luevanos exercising her free speech but said that she shouldn’t have used her city office.

“It gave the appearance that it was endorsed by the city,” Mashburn told CBS2. “It had a city logo, and she announced that she was a city council member. It made it appear that it was the stance of the council.”

Despite the backlash, Luevanos has also seen a rise in support from local residents that support her stance. 

Credit: @edithh_g / Twitter

Renee Fraser was one of those supporters that came out to the meeting in support of the first-term council member.  “Thank you for telling people their rights,” she told the VC Star. “That is America.”

The support has come from different parts of the Simi Valley that say that Luevanos is being targeted for racial reasons, noting that she’s the first Latina elected to the council. One Twitter user said they attended the meeting because of what Luevanos represents in the predominately conservative community.  

“I went to my first city council meeting, to support our first Latina Councilwoman @RuthLuevanos for six hours because she’s in the hot spot for making a know your rights video. May our voices be heard, and thank you for setting an example.”

The controversy doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon as the topic was not on the council’s agenda and thus the no action was taken on it. Many of her critics are now asking for it to be on a future agenda, as well as launching a recall campaign against the council member. But as of now, no action has been taken on the heated issue. 

READ: ICE Confirms That A Mexican Man Has Died Of Cardiac Arrest While In Their Custody And How Does This Keep Happening

An Oakland Raiders Game Was Raided By ICE And A Community Is Left Wondering Where Is Next

Things That Matter

An Oakland Raiders Game Was Raided By ICE And A Community Is Left Wondering Where Is Next

Outside of a school or courthouse. A place of business such as a meat factory plant. A traffic stop. Outside your home. What do all of these locations have in common? These are all place where U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have shown up to detain, roundup, and arrest undocumented people. They can also show up just about anywhere, even sports games. 

On the first day of the Raiders season —during a game against the Denver Broncos — the real commotion wasn’t on the football but rather outside in the parking lot where ICE showed up. 

Credit: Instagram/@raiders

On Sept. 9, at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, ICE was there to seize unofficial Raiders merchandise. It’s unclear if they were there looking for undocumented people, or whether they believed the vendors of the unofficial Raiders merchandise were undocumented people. Either way, ICE agents took all of the fake swag. 

ICE reports they seized $11,000 worth of counterfeit goods. ICE also claims that last week’s seizure is part of a nationwide trend of illegal merchandise that generates $1.4 billion a year. 

Credit: Instagram/@itstartedinoaklandbaby

“Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) San Francisco is committed to conducting intellectual property theft investigations throughout the year and preventing the sale of counterfeit goods during the home opener of the Oakland Raiders is just one example of HSI working to ensure that the public is purchasing legitimate products” Tatum King, special agent in charge, HSI San Francisco and Northern California, said in a press release statement. King added, “The lost revenue equals lost jobs and counterfeit materials typically contain substandard products and can also be a safety risk to the public.”

Here’s what ICE said you should look for when purchasing your Raiders gear: 

Credit: Instagram/@BzioaFenxn3

  • Shop at authorized retail locations, such as the official team stores rather than buying items from street vendors, flea markets, online auctions or other questionable sources
  • Buy tickets from authorized dealers
  • Look out for ripped tags or irregular markings on apparel
  • If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. While some counterfeiters may attract fans with a low price tag or 2-for-1 deal, just as many try to legitimize their merchandise with a higher price point.

“Oakland Raiders fans attending the first game of the season deserve genuine products and the proceeds of counterfeit merchandise ends up in the hands of transnational criminal organizations engaged in varying types of illegal activities,” King stated. King didn’t elaborate or give evidence as to the type of criminal organizations they have arrested in the past. 

People on social media were not pleased to hear that ICE attended an NFL game during the kick-off of Hispanic Heritage Month.

It is definitely clear that ICE wanted to show their presence at an NFL game especially when an overwhelming amount of Latinx were expected to show up. 

This is not the first time ICE and the NFL have partnered up. ICE has paid for commercials during the Super Bowl games.

It’s not clear whether these campaigns launched by ICE — that included the hashtag #TackleICE — but it’s not so much about whether something works or doesn’t. ICE wants to get their message across that they are everywhere, and there’s no denying that. 

Some on social media some wondered now that Jay Z is an official NFL employee whether he will speak up against ICE and about how they’re targeting Latinos. 

Last month, the NFL announced that they “formally launched the Inspire Change initiative in early 2019, after more than two years of work with NFL players, with the goal of creating positive change in communities across the country.” The NFL added, “Through this initiative, NFL teams and the league office work with the Players Coalition and other NFL players to support programs and initiatives that reduce barriers to opportunity, with a focus on three priority areas: education and economic advancement; police and community relations; and criminal justice reform.”

“With its global reach, the National Football League has the platform and opportunity to inspire change across the country,” Jay Z said in a press release. “Roc Nation has shown that entertainment and enacting change are not mutually exclusive ideas — instead, we unify them. This partnership is an opportunity to strengthen the fabric of communities across America.”

Do these communities include undocumented immigrants? 

We will have to wait and see how Jay’s involvement will help the Latino community, especially as the NFL is clearly targeting them. 

ICE also failed to disclose why they were targeting illegal merchandise since that doesn’t seem to all under the umbrella of immigration. Also, if ICE is showing up at games, you know they will definitely be attending the Dodgers games as well. Just for a heads up, here’s the entire Raiders season schedule 

READ: ICE Had A Super Bowl Campaign But Immigrant Advocates Clapped Back With #TackleICE

Colombia Is On Alert After Six Candidates Running For Mayor Have Been Murdered In The Past Six Weeks

Things That Matter

Colombia Is On Alert After Six Candidates Running For Mayor Have Been Murdered In The Past Six Weeks

Stern / Instagram

Yesterday saw police in Colombia arrest two people in connection to the death of Orley García, the mayoral candidate for the municipality of Toledo. But the wildest thing is that García isn’t the first mayoral candidate to have been killed this election cycle in Colombia. In fact, he’s actually the sixth

The most heartbreaking death was that of Karina García.

Pinterest / The Guardian

The 32-year-old was running to be the first female mayor in the rural municipality of Toledo when she was attacked. Following a day of campaigning on September 1, García was returning to her hometown of Suarez when the car she was traveling in was shot at, before being set on fire. Six people died from the attack, including García’s mother, three local activists and a candidate for the municipal council, who were also in the car at the time. According to authorities, a grenade was used in the attack. Somehow, though, García’s bodyguard, who was driving the vehicle, survived.

Before she was killed, Karina reported receiving threats and asked for security.

Twitter / @JZulver

A reward of almost $44,000 has been offered for information leading to the capture of the dissidents who were responsible for the murder of Karina García, who is survived by her husband and three year old son. It seems like a case of too little, too late, though, as García had already reported to authorities that she was on the receiving end of death threats. It was only in August that four armed men confronted members of her campaign, ordering them to take down banners and posters supporting her candidacy. García took to social media, calling on authorities to protect her and her fellow candidates against harm. “Please, for God’s sake, don’t act so irresponsibly,” she said in a video posted to Facebook on August 24. “This can bring fatal consequences for me.”

Authorities are blaming the killings on FARC rebels.

Instagram / @stern

And just who are FARC? The Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, on the most fundamental level, are a guerilla movement that began in 1964. Motivated by Marxist-Leninist leanings, on paper they’re a peasant force that promotes anti-imperialism. However, what this means in practice is that they kidnap, ransom, drug run and extort their way into opposing Colombian authorities and consolidating power. By the time 2016 rolled around though, the group was running out of steam. This led to a ceasefire accord between FARC and the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos. June 2017 saw FARC hand over its weapons to the United Nations.

Yes, FARC legitimized itself legally but several dissidents disagree with that decision.

Instagram / @leperejulot

Obviously, that’s not the end of the story. Despite the peace deal, and despite the fact that FARC had officially announced its transformation into a legal, political party, there are still plenty of dissidents out there who disagree with the change and still operate under the original FARC doctrine. What’s most likely sparked the recent mayoral candidate killings is FARC’s announcement, on Youtube no less, that it’s resorting to violence due to the Colombian government’s failure to comply with the peace agreements from 2016. Of course, Colombian officials heartily disagreed with this statement, and responded with offensive strikes against FARC.

This has basically turned into tic for tac killing.

Twitter / @Citytv

And the repercussions of the violence and killings are far-reaching. Beyond the devastated friends and family left behind, this also spells trouble for the democratic process in Colombia. Because who’s going to risk running for office, if they’re risking not only their own life, but the lives of their friends, family and coworkers? And who’s going to even consider turning up to vote, when the candidates themselves are being murdered, left, right, and center? It’s hard to conceive of cultural and legislative change in a country where part of what needs to be changed is what’s preventing change in the first place.

The other thing to keep in mind is that this is the exact kind of violence that people are fleeing when they arrive at the US border and make an appeal for asylum.

Instagram / @every_day_donald_trump

It’s a legitimate fear: the operation of gangs and cartels negatively impacts on the safety of the citizenry, as well as influencing the way that the entire country can be governed. However, because US legislation under the Trump administration states that asylum seekers cannot be granted refuge against gang violence, it means that these people have no choice but to go back to their country of origin and continue to risk theirs and their family’s lives. Something’s gotta give – otherwise, we’re going to see a lot more deaths at the hands of these gangs.

At this stage, we can only keep our eyes peeled for more news coming out from Colombia, as the elections are to be held October 27, across almost 1,100 municipalities. Unfortunately, with the murder of the sixth mayoral candidate in Colombia, this marks an even more violent election season than that of 2015, which saw the deaths of five mayoral candidates.