Wednesday, September 19, 2007


This is a follow up story to the article a couple of days ago about the church in Simi Valley which was targeted by dolts associated with the militant anti-immigrant group Save Our State.

Believe it or not the city is billing the church for $40,000 for the police who showed up there in response to the anti-immigrant protesters.

What's wrong with this picture?

Anyway, so that you'll have something sane to read here I'm printing a statement from Rev. Dr. June Goudey of the church released on the day the jerkheads showed up to protest.
"Good Morning, as Pastor of the United Church of Christ in Simi Valley (pictured here), I would like to say a few words about our church and today’s events.

Each Sunday, our community gathers peacefully on this site to celebrate our common life in Jesus and thank God for the blessings we receive. We also recommit ourselves
through song and prayer to show forth God’s love and compassion with courage and
conviction. This morning is no exception.

Our decision to offer prophetic hospitality to Liliana and her baby as part of the New Sanctuary Movement continues to be rooted in faith not fear. Our guiding principles and core values are inspired by the life and teachings of Jesus. In his name we affirm the basic rights of all people and actively seek to support those whose rights are threatened.

Those who choose to condemn our faith actions, and trivialize our call for a just
immigration policy appear to have all the answers and are more than willing to share
them. In choosing disruption over dialogue they seek to divide and conquer rather than unite and heal.

By appealing to the better angels of our nature, we choose to find common ground as
human beings and as citizens. Are we imperfect? Yes. Do we make mistakes, yes. Do we have all the answers, no!

What we have is a faith stronger than fear and a belief that doing justice is a high and holy calling.

We stand firm in our witness that love is stronger than hate and compassion more powerful than judgment. Whether you agree or disagree with our intention to err on the side of compassion is not the point. The point is can we rise above our differences?

Can we reason together no matter what our country of origin is and explore the deeper truths of the immigration impasse that confronts us all?

There is pain and confusion in every aspect of today’s legal illegal divide. Still we must move to higher ground—all who choose love and non-violence must lead the way, and light the path for hope to make a difference. To heal our common anguish will not be easy; even so it must become our shared calling.

There are many stories at work here today; ours is simply this: we gather in peace, we gather in prayer, we gather in the presence of One greater than ourselves whose wisdom we seek and in whose service we rejoice. Our hearts are open to all who would join us as we seek a more excellent way, the way of justice and the well-being of all.

Thank you for letting our story touch yours. May peace bless us all. Deo Gracias."

The following is from the Ventura County Star.

Church to be billed for costs of protest
Simi wants $40,000 for police presence at event
By Anna Bakalis

By the end of the week, a Simi Valley church will be billed almost $40,000 for police presence during a weekend protest against the church's sheltering of an illegal immigrant.

The city of Simi Valley is sending a $39,306 invoice to the United Church of Christ for costs incurred for police services at the protest.

The Sunday protest brought out about 125 anti-illegal immigration activists and counterprotesters. Simi officials said that by publicly announcing the decision to shelter an illegal immigrant, the church essentially provoked the protesters to come and create a possible disturbance — one that police had to monitor.

Mayor Paul Miller told the council Monday night that he's ready to send out the bill right away. He called church members irresponsible for "harboring an illegal immigrant."

"This City Council has the obligation to protect all citizens in the community against any potential violence as a result of these ill-conceived actions," Miller said.

But an immigration lawyer thinks charging the church for being the site of a protest is wrong.

"It just seems a little bit backward to charge the church," said Carl Shusterman, a lawyer based in Los Angeles. "It seems the city is pandering to popular opinion in the community.

"This sounds like something very unprecedented," he added.

Largest bill like this so far

City Manager Mike Sedell said the city rarely bills for police services after the fact. But when it does, it's typically for smaller-ticket items like too many calls to a bar or repeated noise complaints.

"The council believes it's appropriate," Sedell said. "But we've never had anything of this size."

The protest was organized by an anti-illegal immigration group called Save Our State, which came with the hopes of making a citizen's arrest of an illegal immigrant staying at the church.

The church has been sheltering Liliana, an illegal immigrant from Oxnard, and her U.S.-born infant son for several weeks. Wanted for deportation, the woman is living in the church's former parsonage as part of a national New Sanctuary Movement aimed at keeping families of illegal immigrants together.

Church didn't call for police

The church didn't call for the heightened police presence on Sunday. The Rev. June Goudey and her 80-member congregation had hoped the protest would be peaceful, without counterprotesters. Goudey did not return calls for comment on the police bill.

Miller and Councilwoman Michelle Foster met with Goudey in August and advised her against taking in Liliana, who previously was sheltered at a church in Long Beach.

The city wants the church to pay for services provided by the Simi Valley Police Department and mutual aid from the Ventura County Sheriff's Department.

Police Chief Mike Lewis said there were four to 15 officers on site throughout the rally, which ran from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. He said two Sheriff's Department tactical response teams were on standby.

No arrests were made — citizen or otherwise — but Naui Huitzilopochtli of Westminster, an immigration advocate, was writhing in pain after being sprayed in the face with a chemical agent, allegedly by an opposing protester. He was taken by ambulance to Simi Valley Hospital. Police said the incident is being investigated.

Cost breakdown

Lewis said the preliminary cost estimate includes more than 500 police staff hours at $35,744; 47 hours of Public Works staff, at $1,271; 22 hours of transportation, at $647; and about $1,654 for items like food and water for staff.

One local religious official said the city sending an invoice "is absurd."

"What the city is doing is giving legal license to racism, and they are attacking the victim," said Rabbi John Sherwood, chairman of the interfaith ministerial association, based in Ventura and Oxnard.

"If people want to demonstrate, requiring the police to be there, let the demonstrators be the ones who pay."

Save Our State leaders disagreed.

"I think the mayor is right," said Chelene Nightingale, a spokeswoman for Save Our State. "The city has a responsibility to its citizens, and the church made the decision to harbor a criminal, regardless of the crime."

The City Council made it clear it doesn't want Liliana in a Simi Valley church.

"This city is not going to be known as sanctuary city,'" Miller said.

At the council meeting, Miller said he sent a letter to U.S. Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-Simi Valley, requesting immigration officials take custody of Liliana.

No comments: