Long Beach LGBTQ Community and Allies Hold Transgender Day of Remembrance

24 Nov

About 200 people gathered on Monday, Nov. 20, at Harvey Milk Promenade Park in Long Beach, at 185 E. Third St, to remember those killed in the last year due to anti-transgender hatred, by publicly reading their names aloud.

The LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning) Center of Long Beach, the Human Rights Campaign, the Long Beach Imperial Court and Long Beach 1st District Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez hosted the remembrance, according to the Facebook page that announced the remembrance.

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Long Beach 1st District Councilwoman speaking, Monday, Nov. 20, at the Transgender Day of Remembrance; Photo by Barry Saks

According to the Center’s website, under its mission, “(t)he Center engages, empowers and advocates to achieve a more equitable society and fosters an ever-improving quality of life for the LGBTQ community.”

The HRC represents 1.5 million members and supporters nationwide, it’s the largest national LGBTQ civil rights organization and it “envisions a world where LGBTQ people are ensured of their basic equal rights, and can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community,” according to its website.

According to the About Facebook page of the Long Beach Imperial Court, its mission is “(t)o sponsor, support and promote charitable and educational programs and efforts; to raise funds for organizations within the Long Beach Empire in particular organizations within the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning community; to promote and recognize community leaders and to shine a light on those social service organizations that offer support and overall enrichment to those in need.”

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Porter Gilberg, the Executive Director of the LGBTQ Center of Long Beach, emceeing, on Monday, Nov. 20, at the Transgender Day of Remembrance; Photo by  Barry Saks 

Before the names were read, Porter Gilberg, who’s the executive director of the Center, emceed. Gilberg opened the program by introducing Councilwoman Gonzalez and characterizing her as “one of the LGBTQ community’s strongest allies.”

Gonzalez said, “As we commence, you know, this beautiful night and event, it’s always so very difficult because I’ve been given a paper that show names and how people have past…It always shocks me and it is so difficult to read many of these.”

Gonzalez wasn’t the only elected official to speak.  City of Signal Hill Councilman Larry Forester followed her.  He said, “This is a very, very solemn evening.”  He added he is the president of GLBT caucus for the League of California Cities and that it published to educate people a municipal guide, “Transgender in the Workplace.”  The guide may be accessed by clicking here.

 

After Forester spoke, Gilberg said, “On a night where we are remembering lives lost from one of our most marginalized communities, I think it is incredibly important to acknowledge the leadership that is here tonight.”  Besides acknowledging the presence of Long Beach Councilwoman Gonzalez and Signal Hill Councilman Larry Forester, Gilberg also acknowledged the presence of Tim Patton representing Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, Megan Kerr, the president of the Long Beach Unified School District, Larry Blunden, the Signal Hill City Treasurer, and Maricela Renteria de Rivera, the chair of the Long Beach Transit Board.

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Anna Gerringer speaking on Monday, Nov.20, at the Transgender Day of Remembrance; Pnoto by Barry Saks

Gilberg then introduced Anna Gerringer, as a “local community member” and said that Gerringer was going “to share her story of resiliency.”  She said, “I’ve been female for all of my existence…I knew I wasn’t strong enough to be openly trans (transgender) the first 48 years of my life. To be absolutely honest, I’m still not sure that I am….I’ve been assaulted several times….Violence against trans-women is rampant because they don’t want to call law enforcement, they feel that law enforcement often feels they (trans-women) have no value.”

The names were read solemnly with the audience holding candles.

The same Facebook announcing the event also said the Transgender Day of Remembrance is held yearly in November to honor Rita Hester, who was murdered on Nov. 28, 1998.

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Deadly Exchange to ADL: Stop Police Programs between Israel and the US

15 Nov

 

 

About 50 people protested the police exchange programs that the Anti-Defamation League organizes, between the United States and Israel, on Wednesday, Nov. 8, at 10495 Santa Monica Blvd., outside the Los Angeles office of the ADL.

According to the Facebook page, which announced the protest, Jewish Voice for Peace – Los Angeles, USC (University of Southern California) Students for Justice in Palestine, and Palestinian and Jews Decolonize hosted the protest, which they dubbed “Deadly Exchange,” that JVP organized nationally.

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Protesters, Wednesday, Nov. 8 march toward the LA local ADL office; photo by Barry Saks

The protesters started at corner of Westholme Ave. and Santa Monica Blvd. in Los Angeles and marched about .3 miles to 10495 Santa Monica Blvd., a local ADL office.

On the short march, through the noise of the rush-hour traffic, the protesters chanted: From Palestine to Mexico, all walls have got to go; From LA to Palestine, cop surveillance is a crime.

When a delegation of the protesters attempted to enter the front door, it was locked.  The delegation tried to engage with the person at the reception desk.  The person told the delegation she or he not was authorized to accept whatever the delegation had and that it should be sent to the ADL national office.

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Outside the office, the protesters heard speakers and chanted more.  One speaker was Rawan Tayuoon, the chairwoman of USC SJP, Palestinian and co-founder of PJD.  Tayuoon, who according to the Electronic Intifada is a member of the Young Democratic Socialists, told the protesters ADL views what she and others call “intersectionality” (sic) as threat and blames it for the growth of Palestinian solidarity.

The protesters again chanted: From LA to Palestine, jailing children is a crime; We are unstoppable, another world is possible; ADL, Stop the exchange.

JVP Executive Director Rebecca Vilkomerson, in an email, on Thursday, Nov. 9, said the protests were in 15 cities.  She also reported in New York City seven JVP members were arrested when ADL refused to meet with a delegation and seven of the delegates refused to leave.

While the ADL website says it supports social and racial justice movements, the website also says, “ADL is the nation’s top non-governmental law enforcement training organization” and yearly it “train(s) more than 14,000 law enforcement professionals on extremism, terrorism (and) crimes….Since 1999, more than 130,000 law enforcement professionals have received Law Enforcement and Society training, with programs established in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Seattle, Tampa, St. Louis and Houston.”  The same website added, “ADL takes a small number of law enforcement executives to Israel to study its counter-terrorism approaches. More than 200 high-ranking American officials have participated in ADL’s week-long National Counter-Terrorism Seminar in Israel since it began in 2004.”

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Rawan Tayoon, USC SJP chairwoman, Wednesday, Nov. 8, speaking outside LA ADL office; Photo by Barry Saks

Regarding JVP, the ADL website says, “Jewish Voice for Peace’s hardline (sic) stance is demonstrated by its positions on BDS, willingness to partner with anti-Israel organizations that deny Israel’s right to exist and legitimize terror, and its refusal to support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

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The protesters, on Wednesday, Nov. 8, listening to a speaker, outside the ADL office; photo by Barry Saks

HaMoked: Center for the Defense of the Individual and B’Tselem jointly in October 2017 produced the report, “Unprotected: The Detention of Palestinian Teenagers in East Jerusalem.”  The website of HaMoked characterizes itself as an Israeli human rights organization with the main aim of assisting Palestinians of the occupied territories whose rights are violated due to Israel’s policies.  The website of B’Tselem, characterizes itself as defending human rights in  “the (Israeli) Occupied Territories.”

A summary of the report, said, “Palestinian teenagers from East Jerusalem are pulled out of bed in the middle of the night, unnecessarily handcuffed and then made to spend a long time waiting for their interrogation to begin. Only then, when they are tired and broken, are they taken in for lengthy interrogation sessions, without being given the opportunity to speak to a lawyer or their parents before the questioning begins and without understanding that they have the right to remain silent. They are then held in the detention facility under harsh conditions, for days and weeks, even once the interrogation has, in fact, ended. In some cases, all this is attended by threats, verbal and physical abuse – before or during the interrogation.”

A little later, the summary adds, “These practices leave law enforcement agencies free to use pressure to force them to confess. And indeed, many of the detained minors sign involuntary confessions (sometimes the confessions are false and sometimes written in a language they do not understand), which are then used as the basis for the indictments against them.”

The Los Angeles Police Department and the ADL were unavailable for comment.

Barry Saks is a socialist and a member of JVP.

 

 

Long Beach Rent Control Advocates File to Launch Initiative for November 2018 Ballot

10 Nov

Local rent control advocates—Josh Butler, executive director of Housing Long Beach, and Karen Reside, secretary of the Grey Panthers—on Wednesday, Nov. 8, filed paperwork to launch a November 2018 ballot measure to bring rent control to the city of Long Beach.

Martha Cota, executive director of Latinos in Action, whose name and signature were on the paperwork, was not present when the paperwork was submitted.

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Karen Reside and Josh Butler on Wednesday, Nov. 8, after filing paper work at Long Beach City Hall to launch a rent control initiative for November 2018 ballot, turn around to face supporters; photo by Barry Saks

According to the first page of the paperwork, the rent control measure, if passed, will be based on the consumer price index, rent increases will be allowed to rise no more than 100 percent of the rise in the index, a just cause for eviction will be required and a five-member rent board, appointed by the City Council, would be established.  Short-term rentals would be exempt.  Also a maximum of two board members would be allowed to own or manage rentals or be realtors.  The index measures the changes in the retail prices of a constant basket of goods and services.  It’s computed by comparing the cost of the basket at a fixed time with its cost at subsequent or prior intervals.

When Butler and Reside submitted the paperwork, about 20 supporters accompanied them.

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Mary Sedillo, on Wednesday, Nov. 8, waits in Long Beach Hall lobby with other supporters while initial paperwork is approved; photo by Barry Saks.

Mary Sedillo, 73, who was among the supporters and chair of the Senior Advisory Commission, said, “Our (the city’s) seniors are living just on Social Security and with the rent increases and them having to pay rent, buy medication plus food….The seniors don’t have enough money to cover everything.  Sedillo, who is a 20-year resident of Long Beach and the treasurer of the Long Beach Gray Panthers, added with the rent increases seniors are being pushed out of affordable housing, the fear is many will become homeless.

Meanwhile, statewide rent control advocates—Michael Weinstein, president of AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) Healthcare Foundation; Elena Popp, attorney, founder and executive director of the Eviction Defense Network; and Christina Livingston, executive director of ACCE (Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment—filed, on Oct. 23, the paperwork with the Office of the California Attorney General to launch a November 2018 ballot initiative to allow cities and counties in the state to strengthen local rent control laws by repealing California law regarding rental housing, known as the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which excludes rental housing built after 1995 from local rent control.

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About 20 rent control supporters, on Wednesday, Nov. 8, outside Long Beach Hall, rally before the submission of the paperwork to launch initiative for November 2018 ballot; photo by Barry Saks 

Los Angeles Marches and Rallies Against Trump’s Travel Ban

19 Oct

 

About 250 people, on Sunday, Oct. 15, in downtown Los Angeles, protested against the presidential proclamation of Sept. 24 that would have banned, beginning Wednesday, Oct. 18, citizens from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad and North Korea from entering the United States.

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Marchers  in Los Angeles at the Japanese American National Museum, on Sunday, Oct. 15, gather before protesting Trump’s Ban 3.0; photo by Barry Saks

The Council on American-Islamic Relations of Greater Los Angeles, which its website says its vision is to be a leading advocate for justice and mutual understanding, organized the protest, which CAIR-LA dubbed the “No Muslim Ban Ever.”

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Asmaa Ahmed Speaks to the prtotesters outside the JANM, Oct. 15; photo by Barry Saks

The protest assembled at the Japanese American National Museum, where speakers were heard atop a wooden-gated truck.  Asmaa Ahmed, who’s the Policy and Advocacy Coordinator at CAIR-LA, emceed.  Ahmed said, “Our speakers at this location will be highlighting the similarities between the Muslim Ban and other exclusionary policies we’ve seen throughout history, like the incarceration of the Japanese-American community.”  She added that after the speeches at this location, the protest would head next to the Roybal Court Center, which houses the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Citizenship Immigration Services and the Metropolitan Detention Center, and finish at the Federal Courthouse.

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Rick Noguchi speaks to protesters

Rick Noguchi, the chief operating officer of JANM, said, “It is fitting that we are gathered here to protest the Muslim Ban.  It is fitting that the march today will begin on exactly the spot where 75 years ago L.A.’s Japanese Americans were loaded on to buses that would take them to America’s concentration camps….(B)ecause the Japanese-American community knows all too well what race hysteria and the failure of political leadership can lead to, we will never ignore new calls for prejudicial treatment of any group.”

Former internee Kanji Sahara, who told the crowd he was too arthritic to stand, sat and explained what happened from the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese to when he, his family and the Japanese-American community were registered and then interned during the remainder of World War II.  Sahara ended with “Never again.”

Following the speeches, the protesters marched and chanted to the second protest site, the Roybal Court Center.  The protesters chanted: Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, the Muslim ban has got to go; Say it loud, say it clear, immigrants are welcome here; No ban, no wall, go back to building shopping malls; No Justice, No Peace; Love trumps hate; You build a wall, we tear it down.

At the end of the speeches at the Roybal Court Center, the protesters chanted and marched to their last stop, the Federal Courthouse.

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Hussam Ayloush speaks, on Sunday, Oct.15, against the Travel Ban 3.0; photo by Barry Saks

Hussam Ayloush, who is the Executive Director at CAIR-LA, thanked everyone who organized the protest and marched.  He said, “For me it is personal, as an American Muslim.  My parents are from Syria… How can I tell my relatives they cannot come here to seek education or medical treatment or come and visit, just because they happen to be Muslims from that part of the world?”

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Mark Masaoka, longtime labor and community activist, and Manusha Kulkami, who is the Executive Director of A3PCON (Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, hold an A3PCON banner, on Sunday, Oct. 15,  before the protest; photo by Barry Saks.

Reuters reports ‘Russia says will target U.S.-backed fighters in Syria if provoked.’ To read story, go to http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-russia/russia-says-will-target-u-s-backed-fighters-in-syria-if-provoked-idUSKCN1BW14U.

21 Sep

Will Long Beach Become a ‘Sanctuary City’?

17 Sep

The Long Beach City Council is to decide or not, on Tuesday, Sept.19, if Long Beach is to become a ‘Sanctuary City.’

Sponsoring the motion in support of SB 54 are 1st District Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez, 2nd District Councilwoman Jeanine Pearce, 7th District Councilman Roberto Uranga and Vice Mayor and 9th District Councilman Rex Richardson.

According to the legislative text, which avoids the word, sanctuary, and which may be read here, would reaffirm the city’s “commitment to the laws adopted in SB 54 (California Senate Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon, Democrat, 24th District) and its “continued support of the California Trust Act” and would direct the City Manager to work with local immigrant rights organizations and local schools to write and present a local policy that expands SB 54 in 60 days.

The same legislative text states the policy considerations should include: “(p)rotecting and advocating for local DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals)  and DREAMER (sic) students,” “(p)reventing future deportations of local residents,” “(e)xamining partnerships with LA County for local legal defense fund,” “(p)rotecting the confidentiality of local immigrant residents and their information, and ensuring no City resources are used to create registries based on religious affiliation, immigration status or any other protected class such as gender, sexual orientation, race, etc.” and “(a)ffirm an aggressive approach to advocating at the federal and state level for pro-immigrant policies.”

According to bill information from the California Legislature, which may be viewed here,  SB 54 passed the California Senate, on Saturday, Sept. 16, with a vote of 27-11 and passed the California Assembly on Friday, Sept. 15, with a vote of 51-26.

According to a Sacramento Bee story on Saturday, Sept. 16, which may be read here, Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign the bill after de Leon and Brown reached a compromise, which “now allows local police to respond to notification requests and transfers immigrants to U.S. Immigrations (sic) and Customs Enforcement if individual  has committed one of more than 800 crimes outlined in The Trust Act.”

The same story pointed out, “(t)he California Police Chiefs Association went neutral on the measure after Brown’s demands were reflected in the last round of amendments,” while “(t)he California Sheriffs’ Association continues to oppose it,” and that a partisan divide between Democrats and Republican exists, where the Democrats argue the bill makes the population safer and the Republicans argue the opposite.

The City Council on Tuesday, Feb. 7, went on record supporting SB 54.

 

Long Beach Dreamers Protest the Rescinding of DACA

10 Sep

 

About 300 people, who were mostly immigrants and their allies, on Wednesday, Sept. 6, at Harvey Milk Promenade Park in Long Beach, at 185 E. Third St., protested, rallied and marched against the federal government’s planned ending of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as the acronym DACA, which was announced the day before.

 

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At the start of the Long Beach protest, on Wednesday, Sept.6, against the federal government’s rescinding of the DACA program, the crowd stood along the north side of Third Street

At the start, about 30 people stood with their signs and chanted on the north side of Third Street as cars drove past.  The protesters chanted in English and Spanish:  Education, not deportation; No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here; No borders, no nations, no deportations; Move ICE (U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement), get out the way, get out the way; (Long Beach) Mayor Garcia: listen, we are in struggle; The people united will never be defeated; If we don’t get no (sic) justice, you don’t get no (sic) peace; No justice, no peace, no racist police.

They also engaged in calls and responses: first asking “What do we want?” and answering with “DACA.”  Continuing they shouted, “When do we want it?” “Now” was the shout back, and “When immigrants are under attack, what do we do?  Stand up fight back.”

Occasionally honking horns in solidarity could be heard.

After standing along Third Street with their signs and chanting, the crowd gathered to hear the speakers in English with Spanish translation.  At the start of the speeches the crowd was about a 100 people and by the end, it was about 300.

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Elizabeth Garcia is a DSA-LB leader and activist.  Garcia emceed the Wednesday, Sept. 6, protest against the federal government’s rescinding the DACA program; photo by Barry Saks

Elizabeth Garcia, who identified herself as a member of the Long Beach Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, spoke before emceeing.  Garcia said, “As socialists, we understand that the ruling class has no real interest in getting rid of undocumented immigrants.  We understand that it is their source of labor and that they are going to exploit it.  What we do know is that they’re using these tactics to keep us afraid, to keep our communities deeper underground to make them afraid to speak out when their landlords are taking advantage of them…living in uninhabitable conditions, when their bosses decide to steal their labor from them.”  She added, “There is value inherent in human life.  We do not defend people because they produce things for this country.  We do not protect because they clean your house or cook your food.  We protect them because they are human beings.”

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The Rev. Nancy Frausto of the St. Luke’s Episcopal Church is a DACA recipient.  Frausto spoke at the protest against the federal government’s rescinding the DACA program; photo by Barry Saks.

The Rev. Nancy Frausto, who is the Associate Rector from St. Lukes Episcopal, told the crowd she is a DACA recipient.  Frausto, who spoke in Spanish and English, said, “I was brought into this country when I was 7-years-old.  I have worked and sacrificed so much to achieve my dreams.  I get to be a pastor to a wonderful congregation.  I get to know people and I get to know their stories and I know many people are suffering….They are trying to separate communities of color.  They are trying to pit us against each other.”  She asked the crowd to be loud for the mayor could hear that Long Beach needs to become a sanctuary city.

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Alicia Morales is a DACA recipient and an activist with the LBIRC.  Morales spoke. Wednesday, Sept. 6, protest against the rescinding of the DACA program; photo by Barry Saks.

Alicia Morales, who is an activist with the Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition, said, “I am undocumented, I’m unafraid and I’m unapologetic….Yesterday’s (Tuesday, Sept. 5) decision was a blow to my humanity.  It was a blow to the humanity of the many families who call California their home, who call Long Beach their home.”  In response to the argument that President Obama’s Executive Order, which brought about DACA, was an example of presidential overreach, she pointed out President Obama tried to work with the Congress of 2012, but it failed to pass any legislation addressing immigration.

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Paula Abad is the chairwoman of Anakbayan Long Beach.  Abad spoke at the protest against the federal government’s rescinding of the DACA program; photo by Barry Saks.

Paula Abad, the chairwoman of Anakbayan Long Beach, which according to its About Facebook page, is a progressive Filipino youth and student organization, said, “We are in solidarity with all of the migrants and all of those affected under this decision.  We condemn the rescinding of DACA against undocumented youth whose parents were forced to migrate here because of the harsh conditions that their families were facing in their homeland.”  She ended with the chant, “Long live international solidarity.”

Michelle Connolly, who represents Indivisible Connected Long Beach, read President Obama’s response to the rescinding of DACA.  To read President Obama’s response on Facebook, go here.

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A view of the protest crowd, before the speeches began on Wednesday, Sept. 6, but after the chanting along Third Street; photo by Barry Saks.

A statement from Congressman Alan Lowenthal was also read.  To read the congressman’s response, go here.

After the speeches, the protesters, carrying their signs and chanting, marched south down the Promenade toward Broadway, turned right on Broadway toward Pine Avenue.  They again turned right on Pine and headed back to the park.  While most of the chants were the same as used earlier in the evening one was not, which was “No ban on stolen land.”

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The front of the protest march down the Promenade, on Wednesday, Sept. 6, in downtown Long Beach, California; photo by Barry Saks

The Sacramento Bee, on Tuesday, Sept 5, paraphrased UC Davis Law School Dean Kevin Johnson, who is a national expert on immigration.  Johnson said federal officials framed the end of DACA as a six-month phase out, with a March 2018 deadline  for Congress to pass a law addressing DACA.  In the same story, Johnson also provided historic context.  He said the Obama-era program, started in 2012, has allowed an estimated 800,000 young people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children – including more than 200,000 in California– to get authorization to work or go to school and have their DACA status renewed every two years.  To read the Sacramento Bee story go to here.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, on Tuesday, Sept. 5, rescinded the DACA program.  In part the Attorney General said, “(T)he executive branch, through DACA, deliberately sought to achieve what the legislative branch, through DACA, deliberately sought to achieve what the legislative branch specifically refused to authorize on multiple occasions.  Such an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the Executive Branch.”

“The effect of this unilateral executive amnesty, among other things, contributed to a surge of unaccompanied minors on the southern border that yielded terrible humanitarian consequences.  It also denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same jobs to go to illegal aliens.”  To read the Attorney General’s full statement, go here.

Barry Saks is a socialist.

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The crowd during the speeches, on Wednesday, Sept. 6 at the Harvey Milk Promenade Park in Long Beach.  The speeches were part of the protest against the federal government’s rescinding of the DACA program the day before; photo by Barry Saks.